For young children, what is right in front of them often dictates their preferences: "This is my favorite cloud/ because it's the one I am watching." Throughout a day, a child's favorite friends, colors, foods and books may change based simply on what they can see or hear or touch at that exact moment. Author and illustrator Antoinette Portis (Wait) uses this adorable tendency as the basis for her picture book Now.

The book's narrator, a lively little girl, shares her favorite things with readers: a breeze, a hole, a tooth, a hug. Her delightful bouquet of cherished choices blooms into rich sensations through the child's wonder and awe, as well as Portis's vibrant illustrations (using sumi ink, brush and bamboo stick). Portis's strong, solid brushstrokes elicit the simplicity of childhood--everything stable and certain, with little room for shades in any ideas or colors.

Now is a story that invites discussion between an adult reader and a child audience. It's a conversation that ignites analytical readers: identifying shapes and colors; sharing thoughts on sights, sounds and smells; and, of course, selecting one's own favorites. Sweet, charming and destined to be a favorite. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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