April 18, 2012

Toddler Two-Step

Toddler Two-Step
By Kathi Appelt
Illustrated by Ward Schumaker
1-2 Preschool Harper 24 pp.
978-0694012442 Hardcover $9.95

Toddler Two-Step is a counting book designed for 1-2 year olds in every possible way. Appelt's jaunty poem guides young counters from 1-10 and then back down from 10-1 as Schumaker's round, balloon-shaped toddlers (and one very unsure cat) dance and move to the poem's predictable rhythm. The text is simple and straightforward ("Three, four, clippity-clop. Cross the floor, hippity-hop"), providing instructions for a literal toddler two-step, while the illustrations fill in the movements that the text leaves out. The rhythm and action ramp up energetically all the way to 10, which arrives with a conga line and a huge JUMP. But from there, Appelt gradually slows things back down for 10-1, organically bringing the reader back to a (relatively) calm, cool stop. Schumaker mirrors the rise and fall in energy as his toddlers spin, circle, bounce and sway until they return to the same positions they were in when the book began, a clever way to bring the reader full-circle along with the numbers at the center of the action. The reader is left with a kinetic sense of 1-10 and 10-1, both numerically and as a pair of related number series that mirror the rise and fall of dance's energy. It's a clever conceit and one that is very well executed. Great for toddler storytimes as either a story or as an interstitial activity, Toddler Two-Step packs an unexpected punch for a counting book, (and parents will no doubt appreciate the exhaustion that will no doubt follow a really good reading).

No comments: