June 01, 2006


Can You See What I See? Dinosaurs. By Walter Wick. Cartwheel Books/Scholastic. $4.99.

Busy Bath. Illustrated by Brenda Sexton.  Cartwheel Books/Scholastic. $8.99.

The Fuchsia Is Now. By J. Otto Seibold. Orchard Books/Scholastic. $16.99.

Elephants in the Bathtub and Other Silly Riddles. Illustrated by Brenda Sexton. Cartwheel Books/Scholastic. $5.99.

     Starting before they are a year old, kids can have fun with bright, bold pictures and play-with-me books – then move on to more sophisticated fare as they get older.  One cute offering for the youngest children is the Can You See What I See? series, whose latest board book for kids up to age three is all about dinosaurs.  This is a simple point-and-find book by Walter Wick, best known for the I Spy series, to which this book is a cousin.  Left-hand pages show dinosaurs, and right-hand pages show those dinos in a not-too-complex setting from which kids can pick them out.  The final two pages give some actual dinosaur names – far too big a mouthful for really young children, but fun for them to learn over time if parents read the big words repeatedly.

     Busy Bath is also for kids up to age three, and this book will be fine for any child old enough to hold it – or simply watch it float.  Yes, it floats: it is made of waterproof vinyl.  There are four simple activities inside: push a ladybug up and down, make a bee squeak, spin a spider, and flip open a flap to see a baby hummingbird coming out of its nest.  This is a nice alternative to fast-food or TV-themed toys at bath time.

     The Fuchsia Is Now is for older kids, as is obvious from the punning title.  Intended for ages 3-6, it is the story of a little girl who receives, as a birthday gift, a pretty hat with a magic fairy inside.  By saying the words of the book’s title, Fuchsia gets the little fairy to come out of the hat and grant wishes.  What Fuchsia really wants are more friends, so the fairy obliges with a wave of her wand that produces a talking pig, frog and mouse.  The new friends play all afternoon – the pig, who wears a hat just like Fuchsia’s, is the bravest, doing tricycle stunts – and then the fairy makes the talking animals disappear until Fuchsia is ready to wish for them the next day.  That’s all there is to the story – but it’s plenty for young children, and the amusing drawings of Fuchsia and her friends are especially enjoyable.

     Slightly older kids, ages 4-8 – this is the “laugh hysterically at really bad jokes” stage – should enjoy Elephants in the Bathtub, a flap book (three flaps to a page) featuring bad jokes on the left and equally bad answers under the flaps on the right.  “What do elephants do for fun? They watch elevision.”  “What should you do with a blue elephant? Cheer it up.”  And so on.  You’ll know if your kids are ready for this book by their reactions if you try a couple of the jokes on them.  Groans, giggles and grasping of the book to read it or see the silly illustrations mean your children are right in the target market.  If so, prepare to hear the same jokes repeatedly endlessly.

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