Zoe and Beans are two characters from Chloe and Mick Inkpen who appear in a small collection of books, aimed at young babies and toddlers, all telling of the adventures of Zoe and her scruffy dog, Beans. In this book, Zoe has found a ladybird, and put it in a jar. But as soon as she comes to show it to us, it disappears. Zoe and Beans then hunt everywhere for the ladybird and find a lot of other lost things in the process.
Look closely at the picture above. Can you spot it? Yes, there is is; a tiny ladybird on Zoe’s head. And that is the premise of the book – the ladybird appears in a slightly different place on every page and can be found with a little bit of hunting. Although the ladybird is tiny it is actually reasonably easy to spot, even for quite a young child. This was extremely popular with the fifteen month old who chose it for a bedtime story most nights it was on loan from the library.
It’s a very simple book but lifted out of the ordinary by a few important details. First, the drawings are delightful, and the characters of Zoe and Beans are instantly appealing to young children. Secondly, instead of just being a ‘spot the ladybird’ book, there is a narrative thread that runs through it as Zoe finds other things to put in the empty jar. And thirdly, the language is not neglected (as it often is in books driven by illustrations) but well-crafted and fluent – note the alliteration when Zoe finds “an old penny, a purple pencil, and a soggy pink party popper”.
This is a simple but well-made book, ideal for toddlers just beginning to cope with stories with sentences rather than single words per page.
You can find out about Zoe and Beans on their website, here.