Black? White! Day? Night! – easy to complex opposites

th-4A series of progressively more complex opposites and surprising die-cut reveals.


Bibliographic Info:  Vaccaro Seeger, Laura  Black? White! Day? Night!  Roaring Brook Press (2006) 32pp.  Formats: Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-59643-185-0 $16.95  Interest Level: preK-3  Reading Level: 2.0  Genre: English Language, Nonfiction, Toy/Game/Movable Books  Themes:  Opposites, Vocabulary

StorytimeWow_FinalLogo-1This material was given the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal on March 9th, 2015. The picture book meets the StorytimeWOW Standards and has been selected for the PictureBookWOW collection.  Read the Storytime section below for details on why this book was selected.

th-5Summary:  A toy book and nonfiction guessing game of opposites featuring die-cut reveals.


Review:   This book is another cleverly crafted non-fiction game book by Laura Vacarro Seeger.  A 2006 ALA “Notable Children’s Book”, this deceptively simple work presents progressively more complex opposites.  The book does an excellent job engaging children via its straightforward question and answer format.  The effective die-cut artwork reveals hidden surprises, such as the illustration of “tiny?” ( a flea) becomes “huge!” (an elephant’s eye).


Storytime:  Black? White! Day? Night! received the StorytimeWOW Marquee Seal because it meets these StorytimeWOW Standards:

  1. Dynamic writing and universal appeal. This nonfiction toy book can quickly be turned into a fun participation game in all read aloud scenarios.
  2. A strong writing/illustrating relationship is evident.  This is a highly conceptual book in which all the components work together to create a fun and educational experience.
  3. This book has the “WOW” factor (children find it enjoyable).
  4. It is well-suited for repetition.
  5. The illustrations work for groups.
  6. The takeaway is a fun and educational experience.
  7. Opposites are an appropriate child-centered theme.
  8. This nonfiction toy/game/movable book keeps children’s attention with surprises and is free of squirmy moments.
  9. The interest level of this story is noted as preK-3 (the Q&A format and die cut reveals will help to keep younger children’s attention).
  10. A high concept with built-in participation involves readers on every page.

Storytime Tips:  A natural rhythm will emerge between teller and listeners in the unfolding of this story.  All you need to do is read the first word at each turn of page.  Allow listeners to guess the opposite, then reveal the opposite surprise behind each die-cut/fold out.  To prompt listeners, you may ask “what is the opposite?” in the beginning.


Early Childhood Education and Development:  The following lists this book’s stand-out benefits across various early childhood education (ECE) and child development checklists.

1.  This book cultivates the following Pre-Reading Skills (see full list of pre-reading skills here):

  • Knowing the names of things (vocabulary)
  • Teaches how to handle a book (print awareness)
  • Cultivates interest and enjoyment in books (print motivation)
  • Being able to describe things (narrative skills)

2.  This book provides opportunities to utilize the Early Literacy-building Parent Practices (see full list of parent practices here):

  • Talking with kids and telling them stories helps them learn to express themselves and conversations.
  • Reading together is “the single most effective way to help children become proficient readers” (Every Child Ready to Read).
  • Playing is a primary way in which children learn language (and this book is a game).

3. This book builds children’s Kindergarten Readiness (see full checklist here).  Children well-prepared for kindergarten are able to:

  • Listen to stories without interrupting
  • Pay attention for short periods of time to adult-directed tasks
  • Show understanding of general times of day
  • Speak understandably
  • Look at pictures and then talk in complete sentences of 5 to 6 words
  • Sort objects by color and shape

4. This book follows Common Core Guidelines (see list here):

  • Maintain a 50/50 balance between fiction and nonfiction (information-focused content).
  • Increase focus on children’s comprehension through dialogic reading.  Ask questions, before, during and after telling stories.
  • Create a more participatory culture in group programs and classroom settings. Use materials that invite participation and keep learners engaged.

5. This book supports young children’s “emerging mental abilities” by providing opportunities for “key experiences” that strengthen and broaden these abilities (see full list here):

  • Using Language (describing objects verbally, listening to others describe objects, listening to stories being read)
  • Representing (relating pictures to real things)
  • Classification (identifying and labeling attributes – color/shape, noticing and describing how things are the same and how they are different, describing something in several ways, describing what characteristics something does not possess or what class it does not belong to, holding more than one attribute in mind at a time)
  • Temporal Relations (starting and stopping on signal)
  • Spatial Relations (distinguishing and describing shapes)

Significance:  Black? White! Day? Night! is highly recommended Laura Vacarro Seeger title by professional review sources, librarians, teachers and parents.  If you are looking for quality nonfiction books for young children’s programs, check out her titles.

Read-alikes:  First the Egg by Laura Vacarro Seeger, Green by Laura Vacarro Seeger, One Boy by Laura Vacarro Seeger, Lemons are Not Red by Laura Vacarro Seeger

Links:  Author’s Website  Amazon  

Awards:  2006 ALA Notable Children’s Book winner

Other Reviews:  Goodreads   Kirkus

I chose to review this material because I want to promote the use of nonfiction in storytime.  Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s beguiling die-cut children’s books function as nonfiction games and invite participation during programs.

3Make Reading More Fun


Written by Tom Schween, founder of storytimeWOW!