Hol(e)y Picture Books, Batman!

by Jonathan H. Liu

There are different benefits to physical books and digital books, allowing for different types of interaction. I’m delighted with paper books that play up their physicality–with flaps, pop-ups, and holes that you can see through. Today’s Stack Overflow is all about picture books with fun, interactive elements. (Sorry, there’s not actually Batman here.)

Polar Bear’s Underwear by tupera tupera

This bizarre little book has Polar Bear looking for his underwear with the help of his friend Mouse. They come across various pairs of underwear (as seen through a cut-out) and wonder whose it is, and then the next page reveals the animal wearing it. It’s pretty funny, and has a surprise twist at the end. It even comes with a little underwear sleeve that fits on the bottom of the book.

There’s No Such Thing as Little by LeUyen Pham

Sometimes little things get overlooked or dismissed as unimportant, but little things can be brave, or welcoming, or unique. Each page of this book starts with something little seen through a small round hole–and then the next page shows something new. It’s a fun message for little kids, and the illustrations are really adorable, with sort of a retro Golden Book feel to them.

Outstanding in the Rain by Frank Viva

In this story about a little boy at the carnival with his mom, each page has a half of a rhyming phrase, with some words peeking through a hole in the page. Turn the page, and the words are transformed into a similar-sounding phrase with a different meaning by adding, removing, or changing a few letters. What’s also fun, is seeing the illustration change through the hole on the facing page.

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

Lizi Boyd followed up her previous wordless, holey book Inside Outside with this nighttime walk. A child wanders through the woods, shining a flashlight around at various things, which show up in color against the black and grey images. The images are striking and there are lots of fun details scattered throughout the book for you and your kids to find, like a little raccoon that appears on every page. The pages have little die-cut holes with critters and plants inside, although the holes aren’t tied to the flashlight beam.

Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle

And now for some flaps to flip! We’ve previously met Flora as she danced ballet with a flamingo, but this time she’s ice-skating with a penguin. (Yeah, I know, it’s spring already–the book was actually published in October and I’ve been remiss in writing it up.) Like Flora and the Flamingo, this book is wordless, and many of the pages have flaps to show Flora or the penguin in multiple poses as they meet, skate together, and overcome a little misunderstanding. Molly Idle’s illustrations are expressive and make you feel the sweeping, swooping motions.

Herman’s Letter by Tom Percival

Herman the bear and Henry the raccoon are best friends, but then Henry moves away to the big city. He writes letters to Herman, who just gets a little sad and lonely, but then eventually writes back–with some funny results. There are a couple of letters in the book that can be flipped open to read the letters they wrote to each other.

Welcome to the Neighborwood by Shawn Sheehy

If you like pop-up books, here’s one with some pretty big pop-ups. Welcome to the Neighborwood is all about various animals that build things: a snail, a hummingbird, a spider, a beaver, a wasp, a honeybee, and a stickleback. Each two-page spread opens up with a surprisingly large model of the creature with its building, accompanied by a paragraph or so about how it’s built.

Mix It Up! by Hervé Tullet

And, finally, a different sort of interactive book. Tullet previously had fun with Press Here, a book that encouraged the reader to “play” with the paint on the pages, and then turn the page to see the results. Mix It Up! is all about seeing how colors combine to form new colors–you’ll mix paints with your fingers, smash the book closed to mix colors, and more. Kids may be used to iPads responding to touch controls, but books? It’s a funny way to play with a book, and for young readers there’s a sort of magic to it.

All photos by Jonathan H. Liu

Disclosure: I received review copies of these books.

About Jonathan H. Liu

Jonathan H. Liu is a stay-at-home dad in Portland, Oregon, who loves to read, is always up for a board game, and has a bit of a Kickstarter habit.

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