With expressions of wonder and delight, little toddlers explore nature in its tiniest forms, seeing critters and flowers with the curiosity of new eyes.
McPike and Barton have created a companion book to their comforting bedtime read-aloud, Little Sleepyhead (2015). This outing repeats the same rhythmic couplets, bringing together the simplest of flora and fauna with a racially diverse group of toddlers. Barton uses digitized pencil sketches to capture the wide-eyed, breath-holding feeling of seeing a caterpillar for the first time. The children’s delight in the snails, bluebirds, and bunnies is a gentle introduction to quietly observing nature. "Little bitty chipmunks, chattering all the day / Little bitty ladybug always comes to play." (Here a ladybug crawls across a giggling toddler’s forehead.) The illustrations are open and breezy with white space, and the spare text printed in different colors keeps the focus simple. While the repeated phrase of "little bitty" provides a consistent thread from beginning to end, the uniqueness of every child is clear. Yet even the wide range of skin tones and hairstyles is secondary to the universal feeling of wonder.
Is this a nature book? Not really. But with beautiful young faces respecting living creatures, it is a great choice for toddler libraries. (Picture book. 1-3)