by Leslie Patricelli
Bright colors suck the reader into the world of a little girl and her dad, and carry through into the world of her imagination. As dad pushes the swing, she indeed goes Higher, Higher passing the head of a giraffe, the top of a building, and the summit of a mountain. With a special extraterrestrial high five, she slows down and returns home again without ever leaving the swing. With very few words, it's more like a wordless picture book, where the story is contained in the illustrations. Even then, it's a simple story of bright and lively imagination, making it a great book for younger tots.
by Mem Fox, illustrated by Steve Jenkins
It would be hard to beat the combination of these two powerhouses in writing and illustration. Mem Fox gives us the simple, rhyming story of looking for baby and finding animals. Steve Jenkins lends his amazing artwork to each creature, making the porcupine prickly and the elephant wrinkly all with cut paper. Don't miss the deep and varied greens captured in the crocodile, with a glorious reptilian eye peering out. The word baby in the title should tip you off that this is indeed a book for the baby and toddler set. Older preschoolers would appreciate the artwork more, but they'll be ready for the many, many Steve Jenkins books for their age group. As a baby/toddler book though, it's way above average.
If you're looking for something a little different for your youngster - simple yet interesting - then turn to the French. While the cover shows the bright colors and hints at the simple text inside, it can't prepare you for the first page where the goldfish is holding up the bowl with the text reading, "My goldfish is the strongest goldfish in the world." While keeping the same simple artistic features of the goldfish, we see the little guy in a Halloween costume, coming back from vacation sunburned, and even falling in love. There's even allusion to the day that the goldfish will leave the bowl and "finally swim with the great white fish." It's meaningful and imaginative, silly and strange, and in the world of very safe books for the littlest kids - absolutely exceptional.
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