Text by Lee Littlewood
Young children love the unexpected treat of discovering what’s behind flaps in interactive books. These reads offer hide-and-seek fun.
“Mon Petit Busy Day” by Annette Tamarkin; Little Simon/Simon & Schuster; 10 pages.
This oversized board book stars a friendly rounded frog inviting tots to trace lines with their fingers and slide balls around to learn directions. Mostly, kids lift flaps to see what vehicle Frog travels fastest in and how to draw lines and curves, and learn the names of colors underneath vivid shapes. Super fun is a big red backpack their little fingers can open to reveal matching pairs. On another sturdy page spread, kids lift flaps to find and count ladybugs.
Best of all, “Mon Petit Busy Day” is large enough that it seems like a game and picture book rolled into one, making it an educational, interactive lap activity.
“Open the Suitcase” by Ruth Wielockx; Clavis Publishing; 26 pages.
Friendly faced animals in clothes each have a “suitcase,” which the author asks readers to open. First up when tots open a flap is a magician’s case with cards and a scarf and other items that Horse uses to do tricks. A case with a big red cross turns out to be doctor Dog’s medical bag, which she uses to take care of Piggy and Horse at the hospital. And the other bags revealed under flaps? A car mechanic’s tool bag, a cello player’s instrument bag and a flowery bag owned by teacher Cat. The sweet tale ends when little Piggy opens her suitcase and heads to sleep over at her grandparents’ house.
With the bonus of a flowing story and questions asked of readers, such as “What would you put in your suitcase?” Ruth Wielockx’s colorful book is fun for curious preschoolers.
“Flip Flap Ocean” by Axel Scheffler; Nosy Crow; 24 pages.
Axel Scheffler’s fun, action-packed series combines top halves of animals with bottom halves guaranteed to cause giggles. In the latest summery addition, kids learn through rhyming text that a sea lion’s “flippers are so strong that I can move around on land. I hop along the rocky shores and lie upon the sand.” The animal looks perfectly together at first, and readers can flip either the bottom or top of the cut-in-half board pages to change its look entirely.
Other sea creatures introduced range from a shark to an octopus, a jellyfish to a whale. Hilarious combinations produced when readers turn the bottom or top pages include a crab shark, a jellyfish squid and, weirdest of all, a whale top with a jellyfish bottom! The back of the book says there are 121 possible combinations. Others in this outrageously fun series are “Flip Flap Farm” and “Flip Flap Safari.”
“Whose Boat?” by Toni Buzzeo and Tom Froese; Abrams Appleseed; 21 pages.
With refreshing aquamarines and cool blues, this foldout board book is a pretty detailed introduction to boats of all kinds. First readers read, “On rivers, lakes, and ocean bays, boat commanders spend their days. Harbor traffic comes and goes. Whose boat is that? Do you know?” with a labeled illustration of a harbor patrol boat. When kids open up the flap and look behind, they find a vivid action scene of the harbormaster patrolling what looks like San Francisco Bay. Other boats, all with labels that point out hydraulic ramps and passenger seats and hulls, include a car ferry captain’s boat, a tugboat pilot’s boat and a lobsterman’s boat.
The cool ending depicts a pair of kids in a blow-up pool playing with toy boats. A super modern new series that combines bold, hip graphics with lots of information, zesty rhyming text and fold-out pages, the “Whose” books are downright fun. Others are “Whose Tools?” and “Whose Truck?”
“Sammy in the Spring” and “My Bed” by Anita Bijsterbosch; Clavis Publishing.
These are two bright books with half-pages that hide and reveal. In “Sammy in the Spring,” cat Sammy and his little horse pet enjoy springtime. They play with hedgehogs, ride a tractor, plant seedlings and ride their bicycle. Preschoolers turn half-pages to reveal more of the story with vividly colored, shiny pages.
In “My Bed,” Bear, Rabbit, Reindeer and the other friendly, rounded animals are tired. Reindeer tries every bed but hilariously doesn’t fit. He finds his and kicks Owl out to finally get a good night’s sleep. Again, flaps help add anticipation, surprise and hand-eye coordination in this fun series about children’s daily lives.