Three new concept books with an Asian flair are sure to delight your toddlers for hours. These easy books come with a catch, though. You and your mini-me(s) must be willing to read aloud about a Panda waxing and waning over seasonal changes, or be able to perform a proper search for a downtown dragon, or dress in all black and slink around the house as you pretend you are a ninja.
Hi, Koo! is another great book from Caldecott honor recipient, Jon J. Muth. The book features a panda named Koo who looks to be the most limber creature in the world. In the warm watercolors on glossy paper, he can be seen mid somersault on one page and being lifted off his feet by wind on another.
The book has three different elements all working together to tell the story. First, each page contains a Haiku. Haiku is a type of Japanese poetry. The simplest form in use is the 5-7-5 format as in 5 syllables for the first line, then 7 syllables for the second, and 5 for the ending. It makes for an interesting beat when read aloud.
Second, each Haiku contains a capitalized letter. The first page begins with, “Autumn, are you dreaming of new clothes?” Next page begins, “these leaves fall forever my Broom awaits”. As you can guess the next letter will be “C” until the alphabet is complete. It is a subtle A-to-Z list that can be overlooked until they are ready to learn.
Third, the book introduces children to the concept of seasons. The words Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer are to the side of the action on the first page of the season. Hovering out of the scene, these words look to be an afterthought added after the book was produced. The effect allows for additional subtlety for teaching.
“Have You Seen My Dragon?” by Steve Light brings the city to any country child. Our tiny hero begins his day by asking the doorman, Have you seen my Dragon? On the right side of the page is a white “1 Dragon” in a bold black banner. Everything in the two-page scene is pen and ink, but the dragon is painted a deep green.
The second page states, “Maybe he got hungry and stopped for a hot dog.” The pen and ink represents a hot dog cart with pedestrians eating. On the upper right corner is “2 Hot dogs” encased in black like the first page. The only color comes from the two hot dogs. The book continues on until we reach “20 Lanterns” in Chinatown. A map is included.The last book in the Asian trilogy is Ninja! by Arree Chung. Our 5-year-old hero displays the attributes of a Ninja by being courageous, strong, and silent. Gather the equipment needed and put on the dark clothes and see how many family members you can sneak up on. Chung designs video games during the day and writes and illustrates children’s books at night. Sayonara!