Toddler Storytime – Steve Jenkins

Every Friday morning I read stories to toddlers at the local bookstore Cover to Cover. Last week we read some stories about families, but we only had two people to read to and the whole thing disintigrated into a sing-a-long session, so we’ll be reading the same books again this week.

But just so you don’t think I’m taking it easy and sipping margueritas on a beach somewhere, I thought I’d draw your attention to the work of the award winning children’s book artist Steve Jenkins.

Steve Jenkins uses paper collage, although this doesn’t begin to cover the magnificent  lifelike effects that he achieves, laden with  texture and depth. He always illustrates science books and mostly books about animals, although there are a few about space and one about dinosaurs. The animal books are not simply pretty pictures or lists, there is always a lot of factual information and context, asking children to think about what they can see. These are my favourites for younger toddlers.

Actual Size. The pictures in this book illustrate animals at their actual size. So we see a giant squid’s eye, an elephant’s foot and also the dwarf goby (the smallest fish). It’s a fascinating concept and makes it very easy for children to identify with the animals. Especially when we measure up our hands against a gorilla. There’s an index at the back of the book showing all the animals (not to scale) with some facts about them. One of the main reasons I like this book is that it doesn’t shy away from the foodchain. The Golliath Frog eats birds. That’s the kind of thing we all need to know.

What do you do with a Tail like This? This book answers that question, and others like it, for example what would you do with a nose, ears or feet like these? Animals are all different shapes and sizes and so are their body parts, evolved to be best suited to the environment they inhabit. This is a great introduction to the theory of evolution and it’s a book of puzzles.

There are plenty more works by Steve Jenkins, please investigate his website and order some today, from your local bookstore.

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