Sensory Overload for the Toddler Set: Rachel Isadora’s I HEAR A PICKLE

BookendsLynn: I have been hanging out with a three-year-old lately (the youngest member of our focus group), and he has reminded what an interesting age three is. He and his cohort are observant, experimental, energetic, and capable of surprising focus when something interests them. They’ve moved beyond board books and love picture books with well-demarcated illustrations, sound effects, refrains they can join in on, and stories connected to their ongoing exploration of the world. As for body humor—hilarious!

i Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch and Taste It Too by Rachel IsadoraRachel Isadora totally gets three-year-olds, and I can’t wait to share her I Hear a Pickle (2016) with our little guy. Divided into five sections for each of the senses, its large pages have lots of clean white space and simple, declarative sentences: “I smell the soap.” “I smell my brother’s stinky sneakers.” Reinforcing each statement are charming ink and watercolor illustrations of a diverse cast of preschoolers, as well as plenty of humor. The text is great to read aloud and should generate some great discussion with little ones eager to share their ideas.

Cindy: The examples Isadora chooses are truly perfect for her target demographic. “I smell the baby’s poop,” for instance, is accompanied by a young girl holding her nose in front of her baby sibling on a changing table with a stained cloth diaper. Ewws and giggles will ensue. She also carefully uses negatives to reinforce sensory learning. “I don’t smell. I have cold.” Because so many young children lose their mittens, “I see the snow. I don’t see my mitten,” is perfect to demonstrate sight. Some reinforce cautionary advice, like “I don’t touch the stove. It’s hot.” Others document causality with something like kitchen help: “I touch the egg. Oops.”

The final page, which features a poem about a pickle, incorporates all five senses and is a natural classroom activity for early elementary students. You can almost see and hear the fun and learning!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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