Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Board Books

My number one question at a baby shower is: "Do you have a bookcase in the baby's room yet?" An emphatic, "yes" is heartening. Alas, more often, I get a puzzeled look as they try to figure out if this is a trick question. Personally, I cannot imagine a child's room without a bookcase. It can be something very simple, a shelf or a cubby but there has to be something and it has to be a part of a child's life from the very start

Board books, with their strengthened bindings and tear resistant pages are usually well sized for small hands. Board books should be on every young child's bookcase. I am old enough to remember cloth books for babies. Their sizing infused, starched pages, though impervious to tearing were utter failures as a substitute for traditional books. They flopped, they folded and rolled and were usually found waded or rolled up in the bottom of the toy box/basket.

Goodnight MoonI dislike some translations of classic children's books to the board book format. Goodnight Moon was shortened to fit the story to the smaller board book page count. Pages from the original are dropped which ruins the book for me and denies the glorious, quiet pacing of Margaret Wise Brown's masterpiece.

When a book is designed as a board book from the beginning though, the design and the format can work together nicely.

These are some titles that publishers have shared with me.

Have You Ever Tickled a Tiger? by Betsy Snyder, Random House, 2009
This descendant of Pat the Bunny invites little finger to touch a penguins's spft tummy, fluff the feathers on an ostrich and wiggle the whiskers on a walrus. Visually, Snyder's collages of smling animals with tactile surfaces are full of brilliant color on very easy to turn pages.

Betsy Snyder's website

Mommy Calls Me Monkeypants by J. D. Lester, illustrations by Hiroe Nakata, Random House, 2009

Lester celebrates the nicknames that mothers use for their children in traditional rhyming stanzas . Ladybug mothers, mama horses even rhino mommies use endearments like Polka Dot, Giddyup, and Funny Face for their babies. Hiroe Nakata paints reassuring smiles on the mothers' and babies' faces.

How do Lions Say I Love You? by Diane Muldrow, illustrated by David Walker, Golden Books, 2009

Another book to reassure the little tykes that they are loved. Birds, lions, bears and elephants are some of the softly drawn creatures that are depicted affectionately playing and singing and nuzzling. Nice rhyming text and colorful illustrations succeed as a book for little ones.

ABC U Later
by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim, Random House, 2009
1 2 3 4 U by David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim, Random House, 2009

I have not experienced the Uglydolls toy franchise personally so I am unable to testify to the extent of its popularity.

These two Uglydoll board books require a higher level of language development than is usually found in the target audience for board books. Still if the little guys are already inculcated into the Uglydoll universe they might have an appreciation for familiar characters. I can imagine an older brother or sister sharing this book with the younger sibling and enjoying the the homonyms and humor. The counting book is the most accessible for the very young. Very countable characters and items on each two page spread reflect the featured number.

Duck & Goose Board books by Tad Hills, Schwartz & Wade, 2008-

Duck & Goose and board books are a perfect match. These two friends have an endearing, childlike outlook as they count, look for a pumpkin, and learn about life. Their expressive and winsome faces draw the reader in and Tad Hills has a humorous touch whicch is perfect for youngsters and the adults who will enjoy reading these books to them.


Girl Detective said...

I agree with your advice about board books as board books, not adapted, though Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury's We're Going on a Bear Hunt is a good exception, I think. The board book of Owl Babies removes my favorite illustration!

Here were some of our very favorites: almost anything by Sandra Boynton, Clap Hands, All Fall Down and 2 more by Helen Oxenbury, Peekaboo and Each Peach Pear Plum by the Ahlbergs, Quiet Loud, Big Little, Binkie and Blankie by Leslie Patricelli.

I found a great many good board books at a used bookstore, all in great shape. This is also a good source, as many go out of print--I got all four Top and Pippo board books by Helen Oxenbury this way. I had a very experienced childcare giver once tell me that we had the best library of board books she'd ever seen. What a great compliment that was!

tanita✿davis said...

I know from ZERO about board books, and all the books I want to get the 7 mo. old and 2 yr. old nephews are beautiful... with those lovely thin pages that rip. Honey Bear EATS books at this stage, and Elf drags them around behind him, steps on them, drives his trains over them, and occasionally opens them...

They need steel reinforced covers.

LaurieA-B said...

Board books are my favorite gift for new babies, and my favorite board book to give is Peek a Who by Nina Laden (universally loved by the recipients).

When my daughter was born, one of the best gifts we received was the favorite board books of a family with an older child: Owl Babies (much read at my house), Little Mouse/Red Ripe Strawberry, and Peek a Boo by the Ahlbergs.

I was so pleased to find the beautiful Lola at the Library (Charlesbridge, 2009) by Anna McQuinn, while shopping for my one-year-old niece's Christmas gift.

Zoe said...

Hello! I found you via Jen Robinson's blog and am glad I did :-)
I think board books are wonderful - with my young kids they've been indispensible because they can put up with being knocked about at the bottom of the pushchair, stuffed in nappy bags, sucked, chewed, and generally enjoyed in every sense! I agree it is frustrating and disappointing when great books are adapted poorly, but I still am amazed at how many fabulous books for the youngest of children are not released in board book format.

Camille said...

Wow, this makes a FANTASTIC list of books for every child's bookcase.
These comments are outstanding!

Camille said...

Wow, this makes a FANTASTIC list of books for every child's bookcase.
These comments are outstanding!

Richard Hanks said...

Brilliant, I had not heard of most of these, although I have just read about Goodnight Moon in the highly recommended 1001 Children's Books: You Must Read Before You Grow Up

Susan T. said...

Camille, these are fun. The board book version of Donald Crews' Freight Train was one we read over and over.

I recently gave My Big Rig, by Jonathan London, to the public library; it's very cute, too. J