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*A Garden of Opposites* by Nancy Davis
Also illustrated by Nancy Davis:

The First Thanksgiving (A Lift-the-Flap Book)

Older Than the Stars
A Garden of Opposites
by Nancy Davis
Ages 2-5 26 pages Schwartz & Wade March 2009 Hardcover    

Nancy Davisís picture book teaches children about opposites. The setting is a garden full of life and color. A long snake stretches below a short caterpillar, a plain butterfly appears beside a fancy butterfly, and an open flower appears before a closed flower.

After learning about inside/outside, big/little, different/alike, asleep/awake, and dull/sharp, children unfold the last page to search a three-page spread for sixteen additional opposites. If they look at the apple tree and the strawberry patch, they will discover opposites they may be less familiar with, such as many/few and ripe/unripe.

The hopping rabbit and the resting snail or the two different lengths of peapod vines are examples of two easier opposites to spot. Insearching this final garden scene, children also spy many of the opposites from the previous pages - the long snake and short caterpillar, the big bug and the little bug, and the plain butterfly and the fancy butterfly.

Printed on cardstock paper and rendered in graphic style, each page uses contrasting colors, simple images, and big bold text. With one opposite per page (except for the final page that unfolds), children can look at each two-page spread and see the difference between the opposites. For example, on the left page, the dull shovel has rounded edges, while on the right page, the sharp garden shears have pointy ends. On the asleep page, a mother bird is sleeping in a nest with her eyes closed, while on the awake page, baby birds have hatched and their eyes are wide open.

Although a little girl is featured on the cover of the book, she doesn't appear again until the last page, which depicts in/out, and in the unfolded garden scene. The cover shows us she likes to garden, but the last page show us that she likes insects, too - especially the kind she can set free!

A Garden of Opposites is simple enough for babies to enjoy but packed with learning opportunities for toddlers and preschoolers. I highly recommend this book.

Nancy Davisís illustrations have appeared in periodicals and advertisements and on greeting cards. She also creates pretty needlework.

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  Tanya Boudreau/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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