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ABC, easy as 123

Who says ABC books are just for babies? Why can’t you mix up some colors using just your finger, no paint? The following concept books defy conventions — and expectations.

tullet_mix it upIn Mix It Up!, Hervé Tullet follows the same format as in his hugely entertaining Press Here, but this time the play is focused on colors and what happens when you mix them. Children are directed to press on color splotches or to shake or tilt the book to make the colors “mix” or “run.” Turn the pages to see the results. For example, “If you rub the two colors [red and blue] together really hard…then what happens?” (Page-turn: purple!) Lots of fun, with no messy cleanup. (Chronicle/Handprint, 2–5 years)

carter_b is for boxThat bright, friendly cube from David A. Carter’s The Happy Little Yellow Box: A Pop-Up Book of Opposites is back in B Is for Box: The Happy Little Yellow Box. This time it’s taking a trip through the alphabet, encouraging children to use pull-tabs, lift-the-flaps, and other interactive features every step of the way. The white text and chalklike drawings on black backgrounds introduce multiple upper- and lowercase letters per page. The bold color contrasts and carefully engineered surprises make for a high-energy alphabet book. (Little Simon, 2–5 years)

jeffers_once-upon-an-alphabetEach letter of the alphabet gets its own little four-page story in Oliver Jeffers’s Once Upon an Alphabet. The tales are clever, silly, and thought-provoking; some of them overlap, with characters making their way in and out of one another’s stories. Jeffers’s loose-lined illustrations include lots of visual humor that will appeal to older children who already know their ABCs but can still appreciate a good alphabet book. (Philomel, 5–8 years)

ramstein_before afterThe wordless Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthias Arégui presents before-and-after sequences: night to day, acorn to oak tree, etc. As the book progresses, some of the sequences become longer (sheep to wool to knitting to sweater), as simple transitions make way for more complex or philosophical ones. Clean, subdued-palette digital illustrations help pave the way for thoughtful discussion. (Candlewick, 5–8 years)

From the February 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She is a current member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.

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