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scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source

The world of preschool literature is replete with books about counting, shapes, and the alphabet, but that doesn't mean there aren't still unique perspectives on these staple topics. A B See is a fresh look at the letters of the alphabet as composed by smaller pictures of things that all begin with the letter they collectively portray.

It sounds simple, and it is, but the intricate details and positioning of each thing or animal makes the book fun and absorbing to look at. Each picture is raised slightly to give the pages some texture, and the use of complementary colors and varying hues gives the pictures some "pop." Each letter page also contains a brief alliterative sentence about objects in the pictures, but it's the illustrations that really capture my attention.

At the end there's an index that lists the name of each item pictured in each letter in case it isn't apparant what's being depicted. 

Scrounged From: Rainbow Resource

Format: Board Book
Author/Illustrator: Elizabeth Doyle
Pages: 32
Content Advisory: None

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Anna Hibiscus is a short, four-chapter book about a girl who lives in Africa... "Amazing Africa." She is part of a large, busy extended family who live in a large white house and are always there for each other -- which can sometimes get to be too much, as the first chapter begins with Anna going on a vacation with her parents and siblings. But before long, they realize just how important it is to have all the various members of their family around -- from the cousins to the uncles, aunties, and grandmother and grandfather. 

My children (7 and 4) both enjoyed this as a read-aloud, and I loved getting this little glimpse of a family living in Africa, though there are still some connections to North America, as Anna's mother is Canadian and she also has an (African-born) aunt who lives in America. I remember watching a TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talking about the danger of believing a "single story" about a person or place, but specifically Africa and the way the continent and its people are often portrayed in American media. Like Adichie, the author of this book, Atinuke, is Nigerian-born, and while we're not told which country Anna Hibiscus lives in, the characters and setting are portrayed in a familiar, loving way -- in a way that adeptly highlights both differences and similarities between the lives of Anna and the hypothetical American reader. 

While Anna's family appears financially secure, poverty is touched on in a couple chapters, and I thought it was handled especially well in chapter 3 when Anna wants to sell oranges like the girls she sees out on her street. It could be a good lead-in to discussing things like poverty, responsibility, and privilege. We're looking forward to reading more in this series!

Scrounged From: Amazon

Format: Paperback
Author: Atinuke
Illustrator: Lauren Tobia
Pages: 109
Content Advisory: None

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Paper Peek Colors is a large and sturdy board book that introduces colors with large cut-out shapes over a background of cut-paper art of various shades of the featured color. When you turn the page, the area behind the cut-out shape gives 5 different objects (of ascending amounts) to find among the cut-paper art on the opposite side. 

When I saw the search-and-find portion, I thought it was a bit advanced for the 0-3 age range, but it's actually clever because it makes this book appeal to a larger range of ages. My 1-year-old enjoys reading the simple parts of the book, while my 4-year-old and 7-year-old have both enjoyed searching for the hidden objects. So I'd say it was a hit in our house.

My only major complaint is that my favorite color is missing! Purple! I know space is limited, but you'd think that at least all the secondary colors should be included, especially when pink, brown, white, and black are also included. Also, the white page is really mostly gray. But regardless, this is a fun book, and the art is beautiful the way the various shades of each color are arranged together.

(In compliance with FTC guidelines, I disclose that I received this book for free through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. I was not required to write a positive review.)

Scrounged From: LibraryThing

Format: Board book
Author/Illustrator: Chihiro Takeuchi
Pages: 38
Content Advisory: None

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An Egg Is Quiet is the latest book we've read from this stellar author/illustrator team, and we found it just as informative and packed with details and lovely pictures as the last two (A Seed Is Sleepy -- review; and A Rock Is Lively -- review).

So many eggs have such interesting patterns and beautiful combinations of earth tones with the occaional bright color, and the illustrations here capture it all so beautifully. My children and I enjoyed just looking at the double-page spread before the title page that features pictures of different eggs, seeing how they compared to each other and reading which animals each would hatch into.

I tend to think of eggs as belonging to the domain of birds, and the majority here do, but we also see the ways that insect eggs, amphibian eggs, and reptile eggs compare to these. A nice chart at one point shows gestation times for a few different kinds of animals, with a few pictures of the insides of the eggs at different stages. 

I like the page that contrasts the shapes of eggs, and how each shape works best for the type of environment the egg is in -- for example, the oblong seabird egg that's wider at one end than the other, which helps prevent it from rolling off the edge of the cliff if it's bumped.

I love how the poetic language feels simple and gentle, yet communicates so much! Definitely a keeper.

Scrounged From: Amazon

Format: Paperback
Author: Dianna Hutts Aston
Illustrator: Sylvia Long
Pages: 36
Content Advisory: None

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Winter Sleep uses a story of a boy who visits his grandmother as a framework to describe some of the ways that many woodland animals hibernate during the winter. The book begins with a brief look at some animals in their wide-awake forms during summer, before contrasting this with the colder and quieter winter scene. 

I enjoyed the illustrations that use plenty of earthy colors to show pond life, smaller animals like mice and insects, as well as larger animals like bears as they take their winter rest. The "story" itself is a bit sparse, but serves well enough as a more conversational way to present the information.

This reminded me a bit of Over and Under the Snow (see my review here). It's less poetic, but contains more informational pages at the end. It also refers to bugs as "minibeasts" which I thought was an amusing term -- I assume it's a British convention.

Scrounged From: NetGalley

Format: Kindle
Authors: Sean Taylor and Alex Morss
Illustrator: Cinyee Chiu
Pages: 32
Content Advisory: None

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