One, Two, Three, I Believe in Me

There are tons of Big Ideas in contemporary board books for the pre-reader crowd--quantum physics, thermodynamics, even pizza recipes.... With that in mind, it seems like a good time to bring it back to basics: counting, kindness and self-compassion.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt: My First 1 2 3 (based on the film of the same name, Walker Productions, $8.99) is a gentle counting-based introduction to nature. Each number--one to 10--is debossed, so young children can participate tactilely in "reading" the book, such as by drawing a finger along the downward-pointing dotted line of "1/ One dog sniffing the floor." Every number--"Four ducklings in the water./ Five mice curled up all together"--delineates where the child should start and finish drawing the number and is depicted on a page populated with gentle watercolor illustrations of animals, bugs and plants.

Michael Joosten and Wednesday Holmes's Pride 1 2 3 (Little Simon, $7.99), like Bear Hunt, brings children on a trip from one to 10. Where Bear focuses on the "natural" world, though, Pride 1 2 3 features the "queer" world. Starting with "1 parade in the month of June" and ending with "10 waving flags fly brightly with pride," boldly colored pages with a thick black line depict illustrations of diverse groups making merry.

The second in Scholastic's Wonderful Me board book series ($9.99), written by Lorie Ann Grover and illustrated by Carolina Búzio, is as joyful and colorful as Pride. Like the first book, I Love All of Me, I Believe in Me shows children joyously taking part in everyday actions: standing, clapping hands, dancing, dressing, singing and sliding. Simply, it's an exuberant reminder to young children to love and trust in themselves.

--Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness
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