By Helen Foster James, Ed.D., Kathleen Krull, and Peter Neumeyer, Ph.D.Good times lie ahead for family read-alouds or cozy-corner reading by oneself. This year's best bets round up irresistible "touch" or "listen" board books, silly rhymes and storylines, clever pop-ups that beckon exploration, and fact books that both satisfy and pique curiosity. Peruse your favorite bookstore for the following titles and read for yourself why each is a winner!
Note: For your convenience, when available, these award winning book may be purchased online at Amazon.com. Click on the title or image of a book to launch the appropriate Amazon link.
Preschoolers & Kindergarteners Gold Award Winners
Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack: An Alphabetical Adventure, by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Levin, Atheneum, 2005, $12.95. This jolly bedtime alphabet book begins with high-spirited action as all the barnyard animals "flippity-flip" and "jumpity-jump" and "tippity-toe" from the moment they wake up until bedtime, when they all yawn and then go "zzzzzzzz."
Moony Luna, by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Elizabeth Gomez, Children's Book Press, 2005, $16.95. A tender story, in Spanish and English, of a small child and her fear of the first day at school, where no one will know her nickname, "Moony Luna."
One Red Dot, by David A. Carter, Simon & Schuster, 2005, $19.95. A counting book with paper sculptures à la Alexander Calder. Truly unique, and truly "for all ages."
Over in the Ocean: In a Coral Reef, by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by Jeanette Canyon, Dawn Publications, 2004, $8.95. The pattern of the familiar rhyme "Over in the Meadow" is used to present information about sea life. Full-page tips from both the illustrator and the author will satisfy young writers and artists.
Puppies! Puppies! Puppies!, by Susan Meyers, illustrated by David Walker, Abrams, 2005, $15.95. Puppy lovers won't be able to resist this rhyming text celebrating a newborn dog's various mischievous adventures. Each page features favorite breeds and mixes.
Snappy Sounds Woof!, by Derek Matthews, Silver Dolphin Books, 2004, $12.95. Woofing, meowing, barking and little-bird-cheeping sounds escape as this bright battery-powered, pop-up book is opened. The story ends in a crescendo of all the animal sounds intermingled.
Toot & Puddle: Wish You Were Here, by Holly Hobbie, Little, Brown & Company, 2005, $16.99. Here are our piggy-shaped friends again! Once Toot has returned from Borneo, he feels a bit under the weather until Puddle and Opal find him a purple slimecap stinkhorn mushroom - a perfect cure. And now there are green jungles to explore, closer to home.
Traction Man Is Here!, by Mini Grey, Knopf, 2005, $15.95. Already a major award-winner, this book recounts the adventures of the green Spandex-clad action toy from his arrival in a toy box - with warnings not to swallow or to microwave - till, after a day of heroism, he relaxes on a blue expanse of carpet with his buddy, the Scrubbing Brush. One of our favorite books of the year!
Eye Guess, by Phyllis Limbacher Tildes; Charlesbridge, 2005; $9.95. Guess whose big eyes are staring out at you. Then, fold out the page, and there you have a close-up of the whole animal to whom those eyes belong.
Happy Bees!, by Arthur Yorinks, illustrated by Carey Armstrong-Ellis; Abrams, 2005; $15.95. Daffy rhymes accompany black-and-yellow striped bees as they swarm, buzz, sneeze and tumble about on every page, with silly pastimes, jolly faces and lots of jokes.
Max Makes Millions, by William Boniface, illustrated by Daniel Vasconcellos; Accord Publishing, 2005; $15.99. A clever tale with amusing verses, plus rolling eyeballs built right into the book.
Ready, Set, Preschool, by Anna Jane Hays, illustrated by True Kelley; Knopf, 2005; $16.95. This brightly colored picture book introduces concepts such as color, shape, and first social and behavioral skills in agreeably crowded pages that contain useful explanations and helpful ideas for parents.
Reptiles: A Touch and Feel Adventure, by Maurice Pledger; Silver Dolphin, 2005; $12.95. Pages fold out to display information with spots to touch and feel in this book that the entire family can enjoy reading together.
Seymour Slug Starts School, by Carey Armstrong-Ellis; Abrams, 2005; $14.95. Laugh-out-loud slugs and amusing jokes enliven this wacky first-day-of-school story.
Snappy Little Fairy Tales, by Beth Harwood, illustrated by Derek Matthews; Silver Dolphin, 2005; $12.95. Favorite fairy tales are simply presented with pop-up fun in lively colors in this engaging book.
Tangerines and Tea, My Grandparents and Me, by Ona Gritz, illustrated by Yumi Heo; Abrams, 2005; $15.95. Alliterative language in an ABC rhyming text depicts the joy of two siblings visiting their grandparents’ farm.
Tickle the Duck, by Ethan Long; Little, Brown and Co., 2005; $10.99. Thick pages have holes through which youngsters can tickle (simulated) duck down or duck feet, even as, presumably, somebody very nice is tickling them.
26 Big Things Small Hands Do, by Coleen Paratore, illustrated by Mike Reed; Free Spirit Publishing, 2005; $16.95. Applauding, building, counting ... and other positive, age-appropriate things kids can do – all in alphabetical order.
Zen Shorts, by John J. Muth; Scholastic, 2005; $16.95. Stillwater, an eloquent bear speaking “with a slight panda accent,” tells neighborhood children three classic Zen parables. Good food for thought.