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Recommended Preschool Books: ABCs and 123s

abc_browne_one-gorillaBrowne, Anthony One Gorilla: A Counting Book
32 pp. Candlewick 2013. ISBN 978-0-7636-6352-0

For Anthony Browne, a gorilla is never just a gorilla. In this seemingly simple counting book from one to ten (plus a final coda), generous white space and classic type treatment balance expertly with large head-and-shoulders portraits of primates: “1 gorilla / 2 orangutans / 3 chimpanzees” up to “10 lemurs.” Browne’s watercolor technique is just about perfect, combining realism and exaggeration, mass and focus.
Subjects: Preschool; Concept books—Counting books; Animals—Primates

carter_b is for boxCarter, David A. B Is for Box: The Happy Little Yellow Box
16 pp. Little Simon 2014. ISBN 978-1-4814-0295-8

That friendly cube (The Happy Little Yellow Box) is back in this concept pop-up book introducing upper- and lowercase letters. The box demonstrates an action for one letter on every spread, usually in conjunction with that page’s interactive feature. Bold color contrasts and carefully engineered surprises make for a high-energy alphabet book; the tabs require manual dexterity (and may easily incur damage).
Subjects: Preschool; Toy and movable books; Concept books—Alphabet books

cousins_count with maisy cheep cheep cheepCousins, Lucy Count with Maisy, Cheep, Cheep, Cheep!
32 pp. Candlewick 2015. ISBN 978-0-7636-7643-8

Maisy helps Mommy Hen track down her ten chicks in time for bed. They make their way around the farm (“Are there any chicks in the trailer?”), picking up the little ones as they go. By book’s end, everyone is accounted for. Large pages, friendly illustrations, plentiful white space, engaging flaps, clearly labeled numerals, and a very simple story line all play nicely together.
Subjects: Preschool; Farms and farm life; Animal babies; Animals—Mice; Concept books—Counting books; Animals—Chickens; Toy and movable books

abc_fisher_i-can-do-it-myselfFisher, Valorie I Can Do It Myself
40 pp. Random/Schwartz & Wade 2014. ISBN 978-0-449-81593-9

Fisher includes the basics: left and right; counting; shapes, colors, and patterns; etc. Little plastic dolls and toys are photographed against bright, solid-color backgrounds, cleverly demonstrating each idea. Most spreads stand alone, and the book has an extremely loose structure. This sunny volume will help children build independence and also remind adults of just how capable very young ones can be.
Subjects: Preschool; Concept books; Self-reliance; Life skills

abc_gehl_one-big-pair-of-underwearGehl, Laura One Big Pair of Underwear
40 pp. Simon/Beach Lane 2014. ISBN 978-1-4424-5336-4
Ebook ISBN 978-1-4424-5338-8

Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. Two bears “who hate to share” fight over a pair of tighty-whities, leaving one bear bare. A pattern is established: desirable items are presented to animals, but there are always more animals than there are items, leaving one animal upset. The rhymes follow familiar spelling patterns (e.g., -ack, -eal, -uck) and the goofy situations are made even goofier through Lichtenheld’s digitally colored pencil illustrations.
Subjects: Preschool; Animals—Bears; Stories in rhyme; Behavior—Sharing; Concept books—Counting books; Animals

lobel_playful pigsLobel, Anita Playful Pigs from A to Z
40 pp. Knopf 2015. ISBN 978-0-553-50832-1
Library binding ISBN 978-0-553-50833-8
Ebook ISBN 978-0-553-50834-5

Twenty-six pigs find a field of brightly colored, freestanding letters. Each pig interacts happily with a single tall, thin letterform in a name-verb-letter structure (“Amanda Pig admired an A”). Repeat readers will spot an extra object beginning with the featured letter tucked into a lower corner. This playful treatment creates a humorous, easygoing book that should relieve any anxiety about learning the alphabet.
Subjects: Preschool; Concept books—Alphabet books; Animals—Pigs; Play

abc_martin_ten-little-caterpillarsMartin, Bill, Jr Ten Little Caterpillars
40 pp. Simon/Beach Lane 2011. ISBN 978-1-4424-3385-4

Illustrated by Lois Ehlert. This counting book showcases ten members of the Lepidoptera order, mostly in lush settings that incorporate and label the flora and fauna of their habitats. The tenth caterpillar (a tiger swallowtail) becomes a chrysalis before maturing into a beautiful butterfly. Martin’s gentle rhyme provides quiet background for Ehlert’s vibrant illustrations. Back matter lists each species of caterpillar shown.
Subjects: Preschool; Concept books—Counting books; Animals—Caterpillars; Stories in rhyme; Animals—Butterflies; Metamorphosis

long long lineOhmura, Tomoko The Long, Long Line
40 pp. Owlkids 2013. ISBN 978-1-926973-92-0

In this Japanese import, fifty animals stand in a line, roughly in size order, waiting for…what? Readers wait alongside and guess at what lies ahead as small dramas unfold. The illustrations are simple and bright, rendered in saturated colors and outlined with thick black brushstrokes against ample white space. The wealth of storytelling detail on each double-page spread rewards repeat viewing.
Subjects: Preschool; Concept books—Counting books; Animals

From the December 2015 issue of What Makes a Good…?: “What Makes a Good Preschool Book?”

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