Looking for vibrant, interactive books with all the bells and whistles for preschools? These new innovative pop-up books make amazing gifts; one even plays the “happy birthday” tune.

Ten Horse Farm

By Robert Sabuda; Candlewick Press; 20 pages; $29.99

Robert Sabuda is the undisputed king of paper engineering. His newest book, Ten Horse Farm, displays stunning scenes of realistic active horses that nearly trot off the sturdy pages.

On one page spread, a white horse drinks out of a stream in front of a gorgeous full-size pop-up forest. In another, a majestic Clydesdale pulls a rickety wagon full of small farm animals with a real rope.

Each scene features a simple descriptive word; in one scene, a horse munches on golden hay in front of a red barn and windmill, and the word is “grazing.”

Based on Sabuda’s real farm and art studio in New York, this exquisite ode to horses is indeed super cool.

Happy Birthday to You!

By Nicola Slater; Nosy Crow/Candlewick; 10 pages; $16.99

With the push of a button on a music note, each page of the colorful board book, Happy Birthday to You!, plays, a lovely musical instrument recording of the birthday song.

The rhyming story features funny animals singing and playing on their way to Little Otter’s party. One scene stars a guitar-strumming badger running behind a wolf in a red truck with his bass in the back. The musical sound is a twangy guitar riff.

On other pages, there’s a cat with a violin, a flute-playing bear and a moose at the piano, resulting in all the friends arriving at Little Otter’s party with a full instrument rendition.

This book is a lovely birthday gift for any young child. There’s even a gift tag area on the back.


By Claire Zucchelli-Romer; Chronicle; 26 pages; $14.99

Wiggles is the perfect tactile book to encourage a sense of rhythm, repetitive motion and early sequencing skills. It introduces all the skills needed for pre-reading.

Meant also to be fun and bonding, Wiggles encourages little fingers to twist, twirl, zig, zag and dance all around the plain blue pages with colorful dots and paths. Instructions tell kids to let their “left little finger slide around the track,” and “Whoosh! Swoosh! Ride the waves!”

Wiggles reminds me of a book version of the game Twister, without the risk of falling down in a pretzel shape.

Rhyme Flies

By Antonia Pesenti; Phaidon Press; 33 pages; $14.95

Rhyme Flies, a sleek black board book, features sturdy foldout pages with hip, mod graphics and a similar rhyming phrase.

Tots will enjoy seeing fresh orange juice turn into fresh orange goose when they turn a page, with a cool illustration of a tangerine goose inside a glass of juice on top of a contrasting black background. The appealingly large black font on every page pops on an uncluttered white background, so the rhymes and simple graphics are the star.

My favorite page spread shows how a spoon of marmalade turns into “Moon and Starmalade,” and a spoon scooping out of a jar with a moon, tree and starry night inside.

Word play rules!

The World-Famous Book of Counting

By Sarah Goodreau; Big Picture Books/Candlewick; 16 pages; $18.99

The World-Famous Book of Counting, a larger, lift-the-flap, popup, pull-down book about numbers, is set upon a super fun magic and sorcery show with gorgeous muted colors and retro illustrations.

Four fluttering doves fly out of a special orange box on one page, while a lady’s hand displays how she links nine rings when a flap is lifted on another. Though the pages count magic scenes, the end features an elaborate popup scene with “Many magical things” and then none at the end, while the magician says, “We hope you enjoyed the show!”

Birds of a Color and Contrary Dogs

By Élo; Candlewick Studio; 20 pages and $12 each

From French designer and textile artist Élo, the popup board books Birds of a Color and Contrary Dogs feature very hip, artsy birds and dogs, and simple flaps to lift and reveal opposites colors and prepositions.

The birds and dogs in each book are not your everyday animals, with red polka-dotted dogs, a long, skinny pink weiner dog and unique black-and-white birds of every shape and size.

— Lee Littlewood writes the Kids’ Home Library column for Creators. The San Diego wife and mom’s pure love of children’s literature helps her stay interested in words and pictures meant for tots to teens. Click here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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