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Bookends: Kids’ books used to teach lessons February 17, 2017

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends, Klondike Sun, Whitehorse Star.
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Bookends: Kids’ books used to teach lessons

By Dan Davidson123

November 2, 2016

– 620 words –


A,B.C Animals

1,2,3 Sea Creatures

illustrated by Yoko Hosoya

Flowerpot Press

36 pages


Alphabet and number books are popular items for the very young. It’s no too often that two such books by the same creator are published in a matched set at the same time, but the work of this artist – a combination of drawing and collage – is quite appealing.

The A,B,C book is the simplest of the two, with a selection of animals to go with the letters of the alphabet. The creatures are drawn, while the letters and backgrounds appear to be clipped from various fabrics or printed papers. The animals are simply named. There are some story possibilities, like, why is that raccoon holding a trumpet?, or why is the turtle carrying a pocket watch? but it’s basically straightforward.

The 1,2,3 book is more complicated. The art uses the same eye catching approach, but there’s a more extended caption for each of the sea creatures, and the actual number is connected to something they are wearing or holding. The swordfish has three donuts speared on its sword, for instance.

The book gets considerably more complex after the number 10, jumping to counting by tens up to 100, having several pages where the reader is challenged to find a up to five creatures they have seen earlier, counting 1 to 30 and naming all the creatures that have been used in the book.

Each of the two books comes with a colourful poster which could either stay in the pocket at the back of the book, or be taken out to become a wall decoration.


Do Not Open the Box

By Timothy Young

Schiffer Publishing

32 pages



It’s kind of unusual for books for really young readers to be written in the first person singular, or to switch viewpoints, but that is the case with this book.

Benny finds a big cardboard box in the middle of what we assume is a room. We have to assume it, because all the pages of this book have the same “paper bag brown” textured background colour. This sort of matches the box, while only cartoon style Benny is at all colourful.

The box has a label taped to it that says “DO NOT OPEN” in capital letters. For adult readers this is the classic Pandora set-up, and we all know how that turned out.

For Benny, it’s an opportunity to ponder what might in the box, and what he should do about it.

Is it full of his father’s paperwork, cookies that his mother has baked, a big robot for his coming birthday, a bunch of puppies that he really ought to let out of there, or snakes, or dangerous wild animals, or a slimy monster?

Maybe it’s the portal to another world that might suck him in if he were to take off the lid.

Whatever it might be, it would probably be very hard to get it all back into the box if he let it out –and then everyone would know he’d ignored the sign.

So, after all that wild imagining, he decides not to open it, much to the disappointment of his sister, who was waiting inside to scare him when he lifted the lid.

This is a clever little book. The artistic choice not to use backgrounds works very well in this case, encouraging a reader to imagine the rest and focus on Benny and the fantastic contents of the box. In the end, Benny probably has more fun not breaking the rules than he would have had if he’d opened the box.





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