Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer Reading 2016 At the Beach and Shapes Are Fun!


Katja Spitzer's First Words series has more installments coming out this fall. At the Beach is perfect for families planning a trip to the shore. Everything from shells to palm trees is shown in bright beachy colors. The page for sunglasses shows a woman in her shades, but also has a friendly Dalmatian wearing doggles. Snorkeling is shown with cool blue water that makes us want to join the girl in the illustration as she watches the fish, jellyfish, and seahorse swim by. It's remarkable how vibrant the pictures are with only 6 colors being used. The page on flip flops has such an array of stripes, polka dots, color combinations, bows or flowers, that it seems like a shoe store display. Whether it is smiling seals and crabs, a dog tugging playfully on the end of a beach towel, or a triple-scoop ice cream cone, all the fun of a day at the beach is captured on these pages. I enjoy how everything that has been shown is included in a final scene, with the sailboat and the surfer in the background, the dog carrying a flipflop in his mouth standing at the water's edge, and everything else somewhere on the page.

Katja's illustrations are fun and upbeat, but simple enough for very young readers. The books in this series are perfect for reading one-on-one with toddlers and preschoolers, or for emergent readers to try on their own. I read an e-book provided by the publisher through edelweiss.


I love the pattern of colored shapes on the end papers - it looks like very funky wallpaper. Each shape is introduced individually. The left-hand page is a solid block of color with the name of the shape in white letters, then the right-hand page is the reverse with the colored shape on a white background. Once the six shapes have been shown and named, they are all shown with the question, "Can you name the shapes?" Then there are double-page spreads with simple sentences to name objects of each shape. Balls, pyramids (flanked by camels), a Rubik's cube, eggs, buildings, and stars all show 3-dimensional shapes that relate to the simple geometric shapes already presented. Once those examples are given, then another spread asks if you can spot the shapes and offers different objects to choose from.

From introducing basic 2-D and 3-D versions of the shapes, the book progresses to scenes where the readers can look for the different shapes. An ice cream stand has triangles (cones) and the circles (scoops of ice cream) are tasty. There are a bicycle, wagon, car, and other everyday things you might see on a neighborhood street that can be pointed at and the different shapes named. Another scene shows the father and daughter from the ice cream stand now in their front yard. The shapes can be seen in the plants, house, and rest of the environment. Then the view shifts to the girl inside on the rug in her room with building blocks, balls, and other belongings scattered around her.

Just as in the rest of the books in the series, I am amazed at how the simple colors and shapes can combine to make such lively illustrations. The progression from single labels to simple sentences mirrors the change from simple plane shapes to the 3-dimensional shapes and the more complex scenes. It all works together very well. What concepts will Katja add to the collection next?

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through edelweiss.

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