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OH! AH! WAAHOO! Concept books!

Learning about colors, numbers, sounds, and the ABCs can be a blast (“WAAHOO!”) with these concept books for preschoolers-and-up.

Say Zoop!, the latest old-school interactive picture book by Hervé Tullet (author of Press Here), plays with sounds, primary colors, and creativity. The book begins: touch a small blue dot “and say a little oh!” Press a large blue dot “and say A HUGE OH!” The friendly narrator gently encourages listeners to play along in increasingly imaginative scenes; eventually a red dot joins (“say AH”), followed later by yellow (“say WAAHOO”). The concept becomes more complex, raucous, and eye-catching, and the joyous finale erupts in a glorious mix of sounds. (Chronicle, 2–5 years)

The titular character of Marthe Jocelyn’s Sam Sorts: (One Hundred Favorite Things) is a kid with an orderly mind. He is therefore unfazed by tidy-up time: “First he finds Obo the robot, one of a kind. Then two snarling dinosaurs, three little boxes, and four fake foods.” As he goes about straightening up, he enjoys discovering the various ways that toys can be sorted — by texture, smell, color, and more. This entertaining higher-order concept book is propelled by omniscient narration (“How many things is that?”) and soars because of Jocelyn’s invitingly detailed hand-cut paper collages. (Tundra, 3–6 years)

A little red cat’s encounter with an alligator sets this wordless (save for the upper-and-lower-case letterforms) alphabet book into Action. The alligator only briefly seems a threat, which also holds true for the dragon that shows up a few letters later; a bear and chicken have joined the cast in the meantime. While the little red cat is having a fine time with his new friends, he is lost and needs help getting home. (Thank heaven for unicorns.) Touches of wit and plenty of zip recommend Patrick McDonnell’s The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way) for lap-sit sharing. (Little, 3–6 years)

Duck the magician kicks off David Melling’s entertaining alphabet book — D Is for Duck! — by pointing a wand (“Abracadabra”). Duck then starts pulling animals out of a hat (“Bunny,” “Chicken”). By letter d, he’s finished with the magic show — but the illustrations show that mischievous Bunny and Chicken now have the wand and are messing with the hat. This wild, fast-paced magic show offers a visual treat for those who already know the alphabet as well as for those who are just getting started. (Kane Miller, 3–6 years)

From the August 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.


Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

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