"Mom, a digger!" "Mom, an excavator!" "Mom, look! A grader!" I have two boys. One is 3, the other is approaching 5. I hear about construction machines all. day. long. It's gotten to the point now where, even if I'm out by myself, I'll point out construction machines I pass on the road. So when I saw that Usborne was releasing a brand new lift-the-flap book about construction sites (Look Inside Construction Sites, by Stefano Tognetti and Rob Lloyd Jones), half of me thought "wow, perfect!" and half of me thought, "oh man, another construction book for our collection?"
But I have to say, I love this book and am so glad we added it to our collection. Like all of Usborne's lift-the-flap books, this one is packed full of information. The illustrations are colorful and detailed, a blend of informational (like workers carrying a pipe to the site) and playful (like workers standing around drinking tea). This book would be worth it just for the surface content, but of course, the flaps add layers of engagement and detail that make it even better.
From here, you get to see elements of building a skyscraper, examples of "super machines," the process of building a bridge, components of building roads and tunnels, and finally a glimpse of the demolition process. And each page has a different, creative layout of flaps to pile on the layers of exploration.
Ok, maaaybe my boys' fascination of construction sites has rubbed off on me. Or maybe I just can't resist a good book. :) My guess, though, is that it's a combination of the two; Construction Sites teaches fascinating nuggets of information on each page and does it in a way that you can't help but read every caption and pore over every flap.
"Mom look, sunflowers just like we have!" My garden isn't quite as abundant as I would like yet, but I love that my boys are excited about "working" in it and tending to our plants. And now that they've seen flowers growing in real life, they are even more curious about how they work.
And behold, now we have a book that explains it all! How Do Flowers Grow? from Usborne (written by Katie Daynes, illustrated by Christine Pym), is a hardy lift-the-flap book that takes you through the many questions that might pop up about flowers. Do plants need food? What does pollen do? What's inside this pod? Why do some plants have tasty berries? ...and, of course, What's making that smell?
Each page is filled with flaps that answer these questions - and of course, like with all Usborne flap books, the flaps aren't formulaic. One flower has four flaps that open outward, another has spikes to mirror the spiky seed it's explaining... a tree flap even has a mini flap of a bird nest to peek through. And besides the flaps, the pages also contain textile elements like finger tracing lines to follow a bee from flower to flower as it collects pollen, cut-outs to highlight changing weather (snowflakes, raindrops), and smell lines to emphasize stinky flowers.
Essentially, each page has lots of detail to keep your kiddos engaged while learning about flowers! The illustrations are fun, too - they are detailed enough to accurately depict what's going on with the growing process, but cartoony enough to not feel like you are reading a science textbook. And the info provides an effective balance of teaching but not overwhelming.
"Skorpiovenator was an egg-eating nest raider. Its cool name means 'scorpion hunter' because there were loads of scorpions living where its fossil was found." This is just one of the many facts hidden within the pages and flaps of this interactive picture book. On the surface, The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth (a Kane Miller book by Ellie Hattie and Karl James Mountford) is about a big brother mammoth looking for his baby brother with the help of a boy named Oscar - but, like so many Usborne books, there are layers to this story!
Oscar, a little boy, wakes one night at midnight and sees a mammoth outside his window. The mammoth, Timothy, is looking for his brother, who has escaped from The Curious Museum during the nightly "magic hour" between midnight and 1:00. Oscar and Timothy catch glimpses of baby brother Teddy as they chase him back to and in through the museum.
What follows is a tour of this fun museum during magic hour, while all the animals and paintings and fossils on display come to life. As you follow little Teddy through the museum, flaps of all shapes and sizes teach you about books, pilots, sea turtles, dinosaurs, and any number of other curious subjects.
And, as an added bonus, If you love the little character of Teddy, you can buy him as a plush! This little guy is really sweet - he's soft, bright-colored, and looks ready to be hidden around the house for your young explorers to discover again and again.
It's that book that combines learning and storytelling into a sweet adventure.
Buy The Curious Case of the Missing Mammoth here! ($16.99, hardcover)
Add a little Teddy plush to your life ($12.99)
"This is the gear. One goes this way, the other goes that way." That was Josh explaining to me how cogs work, a recent revelation thanks to Usborne's See Inside How Things Work (written by Conrad Mason, illustrated by Colin King). This is a flap book with 90+ flaps to lift - some even multi-layered for the same image - that teach about everything from plumbing to trumpets to tower cranes.
One great element of this book is that the pictures and the words are both educational. My boys don't read, but they love looking at the diagrams, which have detailed illustrations with arrows and color coding to explain concepts. But read the captions as well, and you'll learn a new layer of how everything works together.
And parents can learn, too! I never knew how those tall tower cranes were constructed, but I do now. Have you wondered what's really going on inside a lock, or how hair dyers heat up so quickly? Wonder no more! It's all explained in these easy-to-follow diagrams.
It's that book that will help you answer all those questions coming from the backseat.
Buy See Inside How Things Work here! ($14.99, hardcover)
Hi there! I'm Christine - Usborne Books & More independent consultant, kids' book fan, English teacher, mom of two boys.