Apr 28, 2015

The Right Tool for the Job: Specialty Titles, including GO, PEA, GO!

The false alarm issued by the New York Times in 2012 that picture books were fading into oblivion launched me into the blogosphere to protest that misguided view. The widespread and overwhelming rejection of that claim has been supported by sales numbers and publishing patterns during the ensuing years. 

Picture books are often marketed as having a target age, a concept that I believe is often ill-conceived. In fact, the gist of the original NYTimes article was that picture books would, in the future, be limited to those aimed at babies and toddlers, rapidly replaced by "big-kid-books" and/or media in digital format. There are, certainly, picture book titles that are outgrown in content and subject matter, just as there are picture books whose content, language, or frame of reference require more age and life experience. My posts generally focus on the ocean of titles that fall somewhere between those shores, offering value and appeal across many ages, purposes, settings, and populations. 

With so many other blogs advocating picture books, I've enjoyed the freedom to narrow my focus to suit my own purposes. My posts tend toward picture books that are or could become timeless classics, offer valuable life lessons, explore important topics, or otherwise represent valuable additions to home, library, and classroom collections. 

In this post I'm stepping away from that pattern to look at the specialized market that addresses the use of picture books for very specific purposes such as developing table manners, safety habits, bathing, and toilet training. The list could go on and on, and it does. 

These titles, often in series, serve an explicit purpose but also underscore the bigger picture: books are part of our lives on every level, can do more than entertain, and don't necessarily appeal to everyone equally. An example of that is the FRED ROGERS (of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood) series of titles. 

Another focused series is BEST BEHAVIOR, by Free Spirit Press. Each title is narrowly focused and many include the  title pattern:
  ___________ is not for _____________. 
It's an approach I suspect appeals more to the adults than to the kids involved in the reading of these books. I'd have preferred something like "Hands are for _____________" or "Noses are for _____________", but adults buy the books.

Both of these series showcase images of children in the target age, either through photographs or simple drawings. Both, admirably, picture diverse populations.

Both are also what could be termed early-childhood nonfiction or informational text, and they stay in print because they are well-suited to their purposes and to the ever-renewing market in the target demographic.

Then there's this new release from Running Press Kids (RPKids) , GO, PEA, GO! by Joe Moshier and Chris Sonnenburg. 
This book's exuberant and energetic word play, rhyme, repetition, and a wacky premise combine in a story that succeeds on multiple levels. 
For the intended age (potty training, whatever that age may be) it's entertaining and appealing. It stands up to repetition and the humor will "seep" through to the kids, although I see caregiver adults noting and enjoying the word play more than the kids will.
Those trying to develop sensory awareness (the feeling of needing to "GO") are easily distracted by other activities, so the single-minded effort (and mantra) to "GO, PEA, GO!" will ring true.
It's not timeless lyrical text, but it's accurate enough in meter and rhyme to work. A bonus that adults will  appreciate is the chart (arranged like a race track) and stickers to record success and help establish habits. The stickers limit the usefulness of this book in libraries or group settings, but creating personal charts for each individual is a simple enough process. 

So, take a look at these books and others with specialty purposes. They may well be ones that are fondly recalled FAR into adulthood, right alongside Pat the Bunny. If you find yourself caring for someone at this critical learning stage, give this one a look. 

Running Press Kids is featuring GO, PEA, GO in a blog tour that includes giveaways. To read what others have had to say about this recent release, click the active links below.

By Joe Moshier and Chris Sonnenburg
Blog Tour Schedule 

 Click here to link to the RAFFLECOPTER giveaway.

This contest will run from 4/22 to 5/4 @ 12 AM EST. 
Running Press Kids  will give away ONE prize pack that includes a pea plush, pea beach ball, pea tote bag, pea hair clips, stickers, and a copy of the book. 
THREE people will win a pack including a pea beach ball, pea postcards, stickers, and a copy of the book. 
FIVE runners up will receive a copy of the book and stickers. Winners will be contacted by email and must notify us within 48 hours of the notification email with address and acceptance. 
Please note that winners can be from the US only. 

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Picture books are as versatile and diverse as the readers who enjoy them. Join me to explore the wacky, wonderful, challenging and changing world of picture books.