Friday, April 13, 2012

The Great Gimmick Game

If there's one thing (and I know there isn't just one) that Eric Carle has completely mastered it's the use of really cool gimmicks in his really cool books.  Tell me, if your pre-schooler has the choice between a regular book and a book with a gimmick which book does he choose?  You know it's the one with the di-cut pages or sound bite or flaps or flashing lights or... you get the drift.  Books like this are EVERYWHERE nowadays, the problem is many of them are annoying (have you noticed) and often the stories just aren't very well written... but you can ALWAYS turn to Eric Carle for a great book with a great gimmick sure to please parent and child alike!  Here are a few we love, (some we just discovered)... perhaps one or two will be new to you too.  

The Very Hungry Caterpillar must be included on this list because it was Eric Carle's first and continues to be his most famous gimmick book.  Above you see a cool big book version we have that came with a little caterpillar who can "crawl' through each of the holes in the pages. This book will forever be a favorite in everyone's house I'm sure - Whitney 

Based on Goethe's Color Wheel Hello, Red Fox is a really cool book of optical illusions.  First you stare at the  dot in the center of animal/object then you stare at the dot on the blank page... magic happens!  I promise.  (Though it was too tricky for my 6 & 4 year old... I don't think it will be long before they can see the magic too.) -robyn

My Very First Library is a set of very cool books that are also a matching game.  The pages are split and the child attempts to find the page on the top half that corresponds with the picture on the bottom or vice versa.  Not to sound lame, but they are cool and educational, seriously-- I'm not just trying to sound like an ad for 'teach your baby to read' or something.  (By the way, I have never seen those videos, they might be great, but I've seen these books, and I know they're great!)  -Whitney

The Grouchy Ladybug really is one of my favorites, which is kinda funny because Whit told me she isn't too fond of this one.  Maybe I just relate because I have a couple of little boys who are always wanting to fight.  Not only is the book about learning to share and get along... you get a lesson on telling time as well.  That whale fin swatting the ladybug back to the original leaf is a favorite page around here. -Robyn
(Whit-talics here-- its exactly the relate-ability that gets to me actually, but I do like the end, and the whale, and the time but we can provide our own fighting here, sadly.)

Colors/Colores (The World of Eric Carle) was an awesome yard sale find for me! It has a very simple gimmick.  The picture slides back and forth covering either the English word, or the Spanish one.  I love the super bold illustrations in this book.  It's so bright and bold even though each page really only has one color. -Whitney
The Mixed-Up Chameleon has layered pages and fanciful imaginative illustrations.  I don't think my boys will ever get tired of seeing the silly chameleon change as it wishes to be something it isn't- a forever favorite around here with the wonderful message of embracing who you are. -Robyn
The Very Clumsy Click Beetle is a cute story with an underlying theme of encouragement and determination.   It's about a young click beetle who just can't flip over.  Luckily he figures it out just in time!  And of course the fun gimmick of the clicking each time you turn the page, love that!

Let's Paint a Rainbow sadly is not currently in print.  Published 1982 as a part of a series (along with Catch the Ball and What's for Lunch?).  I picked this one up second hand and it's a really cool sturdy board book with cut-out pages (now I want the rest of the set). -Robyn

Here we have Carle using a sound bite at the last page of The Very Quiet Cricket.  All throughout the story the poor little cricket can't figure out how to chirp... until he finds someone at the end worth chirping to.  I have the board book copy and the cricket's beginning to loose some of it's chirp... but look, it's easy to replace the batteries (I just have to go buy the right size). -Robyn

The Very Lonely Firefly follows Carle's same wonderful pattern of repition with a great little twist of resolution at the end.  In this one, a little firefly searches for someone like him, but he just keeps striking out--- until brilliance at the end of the book when he finds where he belongs and lights right up, literally!  Have you ever met a little kid who wasn't obsessed with light up stuff? (Of course you haven't.) I told you, brilliance! -Whitney

There you have it!  A whole load of books that will entertain your child- LOVE that!  One of the best things about books by Eric Carle is that they are (for the most part) available everywhere, not only that... most of his books are available in several different formats (hardback, paperback, board book, big book, multi-book sets) you name it, they've made it!  What's your favorite gimmick book by Mister Carle?

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PS We compiled this list aware that it IS NOT a complete compilation of his gimmick books, for instance The Very Busy Spider (which we both LOVE) and Mister Seahorse (such an awesome book)... both previously mentioned on this blog.  There are lots- we just wanted to feature a sampling today.

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