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Bear About Town / Secret Seahorse / I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur Review by Susan K. Marlow

By Stella Blackstone and Claire Beaton; Bear illustrated by Debbie Harter
Barefoot Books
2067 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge, MA 02140

These three board books, Bear About Town, Secret Seahorse, and I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur, are delightful offerings from Barefoot Books. Each brightly colored book is a dozen sturdy pages in length. As a grandma, I loved the smooth pages and eye-catching artwork probably as much as the toddlers and preschoolers for whom the books are intended. The best way to see if a book is a "hit" is to try it out on the babies. My granddaughters (ages 1 and 3) and my grandson (age 18 months) loved exploring these 7 x 7 inch books. Opening and closing the pages, poking the pictures, and even trying to eat them. These books will hold up for a long time--through more than one child.

Bear About Town has large type and easy-to-remember rhyming text as bear makes his way around town--a different place each day. A fun way to introduce the days of the week, Bear About Town also includes a town map at the end of the story. Who says you can't start your geography curriculum at age two?

The watery world of the coral reef is explored in the hide-and-seek adventure Secret Seahorse. Your toddler follows an elusive seahorse as he swims through different underwater environments and meets all kinds of sea creatures like crabs, starfish, eels, and octopuses. Fabric artist Clare Beaton recreates the underwater world using a colorful array of felt, sequins, beads, and buttons. Little ones aren't the only folks who will enjoy the beauty of her work. I loved it!

If you could be a dinosaur, which would you be? A ferocious T-Rex? How about a Camarasaurus munching on plants? (Yes, that was a new one on me.) Perhaps you'd soar like a pterodactyl. In I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur, toddlers and preschoolers romp through dinosaur land, safely "landing" in bed when they discover it's really just a dream. No evolution here--just a delightful journey through another of Clare Beaton's fabric creations. The volcano with the sequins for lava is especially creative.

Who goes around recommending and reviewing board books? I, for one. Seahorse and Dinosaur, especially, are worth the price just to see the artwork. I recommend getting these books not only for the little ones to enjoy but also to use as ideas for creative art projects for the older kids.

Product review by Susan K. Marlow, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2008