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Creative concepts

Crafting a fresh concept book is no easy task, but the creators of these new picture books introduce fundamental topics in imaginative ways.

“Look! Elephants! / One, two, three, four, five…” Five elephants, each rendered in a different pastel color with a thick brown outline, march across the pages of A Parade of Elephants. Counting gives way to prepositions while the creatures march over, under, up, down, and around, always proud and purposeful until “day is done.” Kevin Henkes‘s combination of concept book, pourquoi tale, and bedtime story is simply perfect for its preschooler audience. (Greenwillow, 2–5 years)

“Blow out the candle and turn the page,” opens Who Was That? by Olivier Tallec, a companion book to Who Done It? and Who What Where? Readers’ observational skills are challenged on the next (all-in-darkness) spread when asked to identify the character who was wearing a yellow scarf. Questions compel each page-turn as Tallec presents viewers with unexpected queries and entertaining distractions. Bright color choices and a playful tone keep things fresh, funny, and engaging. (Chronicle, 4–7 years)

The energetic dog from Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run!: An Alphabet Caper is back to create more mayhem in Stop, Go, Yes, No!: A Story of Opposites, a concept book demonstrating opposites. A cat peacefully curled up on a chair (“Asleep”) is disrupted as the dog bursts through a window (“Awake”). A steady rhythm of straightforward opposites pairings follows, with the cat trying to shake off the persistent dog. Mike Twohy’s cartoony ink, felt-tipped pen, and watercolor illustrations directly reinforce his zippy text. (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, 4–7 years)

In Vivid: Poems & Notes About Color, Julie Paschkis pairs fourteen color-themed poems with vibrant gouache illustrations; each spread also includes background information about the color. The last poem is, naturally, about a rainbow, depicted as a sequence of images of different-colored foods (“a rainbow picnic”) set on squares of their matching colors. An author’s note does a good job of explaining basic color theory. (Holt/Godwin, 4–7 years)

From the September 2018 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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