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It’s a toy, it’s an activity, it’s a book!

Looking for some interactive but non-electronic books for young children? Here are four entertaining toy and concept books to occupy preschoolers’ attention and stimulate their minds.

Night LightGuess the source of illumination poking through die-cut black pages in Nicholas Blechman’s counting book/bedtime story Night Light. The guessing game (“1 light, shining bright?”) starts with a single, lunar-like circle that a page turn reveals to be a headlight on a train. Every question leads to a different vehicle as the answer, all pleasingly rendered in geometric digital illustrations. After number ten, it’s back down to one, then bedtime in the boy’s vehicle-filled room. (Orchard/Scholastic, 2–5 years)

I Am Blop!Press Here author Hervé Tullet’s latest creative effort is centered on one blobby shape similar to a four-leaf clover. I Am Blop! progresses from simple (black and white blops; different sizes and numbers of blops) to more complex (blops in a book within the book merging and mixing their colors; personified blops in a classroom). Tullet invites his audience to extend their play with blop-shaped die cuts to punch out and fifteen open-ended questions to answer about blops. (Phaidon, 2–5 years)

A Funny Little BirdA Funny Little Bird by Jennifer Yerkes plays with two-dimensional and three-dimensional area by showing a small white bird only as negative space in relation to its colorful background. The bird adorns itself in bright objects (vine tendrils, feathers) to impress the other animals, but eventually learns that it’s best to stay natural. Yerkes’s precise illustrations utilize large shapes, flowing lines, and subtle patterns to configure white space so readers can always find the barely-there bird. (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2–5 years)

Flora and the FlamingoIn Molly Idle’s wordless picture book Flora and the Flamingo, a little girl mimics the graceful, balletic poses of a pink flamingo. At first irritated, the bird eventually relents and teaches Flora how to dance. The book has a cinematic feel with remarkable dynamic pacing facilitated by ingenious lift-the-flaps that advance each scene and highlight the duo’s movements when flipped down. Spare illustrations in a limited palette allow the characters’ physical and emotional chemistry — and the book’s physical comedy — to take center stage. (Chronicle, 2–5 years)

From the July 2013 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Cynthia K. Ritter About Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is associate editor of The Horn Book Guide. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons College.

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