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Dot-dot-dash — Concept Books With a Twist

Three new concept books for preschool and primary ages play with the book form and go out of their way to keep kids involved.

DotNewcomer Patricia Intriago brings a strong graphic sensibility to her deceptively minimalist Dot. This book of opposites uses a brief rhyming text and a playful touch, setting up predictable patterns and then breaking them. The pacing and text are on target for three-year-olds, while older children will better appreciate the graphic gymnastics and some of the more subtle humor. Who knew circles could be so versatile? (3–6 years)

Press HereHervé Tullet also uses dots — hastily painted colored circles — and speaks directly to the reader in his app-like Press Here. Giving the iPad a run for its money, he invites the reader to interact with his book, providing a big payoff to those who suspend their disbelief. “Try shaking the book…just a little bit,” he suggests on one spread showing perfectly aligned red, yellow, and blue dots. Turn the page and voilà! the dots are all mixed up. This tactile, sturdily satisfying book invites repeated readings without wearing down any batteries. (2–5 years) 

Follow the Line to SchoolWhy should dots have all the fun? Laura Lungkvist’s Follow the Line to School (fourth in her Line series) encourages readers to trace a continuous line from spread to spread as it meanders through an elementary school. Sometimes the line forms parts of the picture and sometimes it just creates a path from one item to the next, roaming through class rooms, cafeteria, a playground, and more. The text asks direct questions that can be easily answered with a thorough look at the art (“How many balls do you see? What colors are the jump ropes?”). What better antidote to back-to-school jitters? (4–8 years)

—Lolly Robinson

From Notes from the Horn Book, August 2011

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.

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