Aptly named, The Everything Book is a hodgepodge of early learner words, numbers, poems, and concepts. But, without a doubt, the gorgeous illustrations are the real star of the show, created by Denise Fleming by pouring colored cotton fiber through hand-cut stencils. Readers and art appreciators of all ages will want to surround themselves with the delicious, ripe colors. Whether she's writing about traffic lights ("We all must obey them / Even the Queen"), a robin's nest, or the colors of fruit, Fleming imbues her subjects with vivid hues and exquisite shapes. Children will pore over the loosely organized book; the sparse structure allows readers to create their own stories, lingering over Summer, for example (with "summer" as its only text), to count the flies, spy the squirrel, and admire the pair of sunflowers.
Readers can practice the alphabet, count crocodile eggs and ladybugs, make faces, learn about shapes, and play with kitchen "toys": cups, pans, spoons, bags. Towards the end of the book, the theme becomes nighttime-sleepytime, with verses about winking blinking fireflies and bunnies and chicks getting ready for bed. Children will love the big, color-drenched pictures and simple words. Grownups will want to frame the art and hang it all over their house. Fleming's In the Small, Small Pond was a Caldecott Honor Book. (Ages 3 to 6) --Emilie Coulter [via]