The real world is of endless interest to small children, who have so much to learn about it and relatively limited opportunities to actually explore it directly. Thank goodness for informational picture books.

Author/photographer Victoria Allenby takes two preschool picture-book standards, the shape book and the big-machine book, and combines them in Shape Up, Construction Trucks! (Pajama Press, Sept. 15). Dazzlingly crisp photos and rhyming text ask readers to find shapes in the various construction equipment depicted, clean graphic overlays ensuring that tots will have no trouble identifying them.

There’s a Skeleton Inside You! (Roaring Brook, Sept. 8): Two extraterrestrials who do not have skeletons discover this amazing fact when they crash-land on Earth and ask readers for help with repairs to their ship. Author Idan Ben-Barak and illustrator Julian Frost use these two characters, a blob and a cloud, to explore the human skeletal and muscular systems, imparting an impressive amount of information with a maximum of playfulness.

Jason Chin packs the cosmos into 40 mind-blowing pages as he helps readers understandYour Place in the Universe (Neal Porter/Holiday House, Sept. 1). Starting with four kids, he challenges them to cast their vision outward, from an ostrich that is twice as tall as them in ever expanding steps all the way to the edge of the universe and back, gorgeous paintings illustrating each part of the journey.

Even if they read April Pulley Sayre’s newest photo-essay in a desert, readers will Feel the Fog (Beach Lane/Simon and Schuster, Sept. 15) as they turn its pages. Her spare text engages the senses as her stunning photos capture her subject, droplets visible and almost tangible, and even as she moves into the science of the weather phenomenon she never loses her sense of poetry.

Vicky Smith is a young readers’ editor.