It’s difficult for me to review board books — which I know many of you are looking for — as my library does not let me request them and they land higgledy-piggledy in branch libraries across the metro area. Sigh. Not a good system for folks looking for specific titles to share with their smallests.
However, I managed to nab a few recently, and thought I’d share with you what I liked best.
First category — books that say “I love you,” and “The world is a beautiful place!”
My Heart Fills With Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith, illustrations by Julie Flett published in 2016 by Orca Book Publishers
This book is one of my favorites on the list today. Featuring Julie Flett’s gorgeous artwork (if you see her name on a book, just grab it!) the text simply narrates the gems in a small child’s world that fill his or her heart with happiness.
The special joy of this is that it’s written and illustrated from a Native American/First Nation’s perspective. It’s a lovely combination of widely-human thoughts — seeing the face of someone I love, singing — and specifically Native elements — bannock in the oven, drumming. Exceptional! Highest recommendation!
Little You, by Richard Van Camp, illustrated by Julie Flett published in 2013 by Orca Book Publishers
Again from Julie Flett, this time accompanying the tender, sweet words of love whispered to a baby by his/her parents. “You are life/and breath adored. You are us/ and so much more.”
Sophisticated design, rich colors and patterns, make this a great choice for those who can’t handle cute animals in pastel pinks and blues in their baby books!
We Belong Together, written and illustrated by Joyce Wan published in 2011 by Cartwheel Books
Joyce Wan’s bold designs with her distinct contemporary-Japanese influences, rocket this book to exuberance as we discover that we belong together “like smitten little mittens” and like “peanut butter and jelly.”
There is so much cheer packed into this small book! I’d say it’s one to buy, fully prepared to wear it completely out with re-readings!
Two Long Ears, written and illustrated by Jacob A. Boehne published in 2016 by Schiffer Publishing Inc.
Here’s one that some of you will roll your eyes at and some will immediately fall for!
Count from 1 to 10 while you introduce your baby to the spectrum of folks they’ll meet in any Western urban center — folks with plugs and studs and tattoos and green hair. Embrace the differences! Apparently if you purchase this book it comes with a wall poster and color-it-yourself poster.
Moving on to concept books. This is what I think board books are mainly for — a way to interact with your child over a book. Flip the pages any which way. Read the same page 10 times. It does not matter. There is no particular story line to follow. Just ideas to talk about together.
Counting,created by Aino-Maija Metsola, published in 2015 Colors, published in 2016 both from Wide Eyed Editions
Let’s hear it for this Finnish illustrator/designer and her Marimekko-style designwork in these two brilliant books.
Besides the riveting illustrations, these books feature flaps to lift revealing tiny puzzles for little ones to solve. One blackbird. Lift the flap to read, “The blackbird flies away to find its dinner. Can you spot 3 acorns?” Now we’ve got to glance around the page to locate those three acorns. In the Colors volume, we have to spot the odd one out.
Great art, clever brainwork, loads of potential here.
Pattern-tastic Treasure Hunt: Spot the Odd One Out with Nature, by Hvass and Hannibal published in 2016 by Wide Eyed Editions
Another spot the odd one out book, this time with patterns to distinguish — spots, spirals, stripes.
Lots of great vocabulary to acquire and clever puzzlers to pore over.
Jane Foster’s Brown Bear Color Book coming soon: October 2016, published by little bee books
Line up for textile-designer Jane Foster’s Color Book, coming out this fall. It’s a darling choice for people too young for the ideas required by the previous few titles.
Yet there’s great space for interaction and learning as we try to name all the red, orange, yellow objects on the page and also spy that beautiful fellow, Brown Bear. Charming.
Rhymoceros and Hippopposites, by Janik Coat published in 2015 and 2012 respectively, by Harry N. Abrams
Concepts of rhyming and opposites are playfully introduced in these two runaway favorites.
Check out the “stinky” and “inky” rhinos or the “clear” and “blurry” hippos, and discover a whole new world of word-fun. Extremely clever images stand strikingly alone on white pages, leaving us to fully engage with these good sports!
Moving On. I am of the mind that if a child is old enough to be working on her alphabet, she is probably ready to not be reading board books! Yet there are so, so many ABC board books! Here are a couple which I find so beautiful artistically, that it really does not matter whether elephant starts with an E or not!
A B See, by Elizabeth Doyle published in 2015 by Little Simon
Intricate, lovely artwork here, with each letter made up of objects that begin with it. There are hundreds of beautiful particulars to name in this book.
Lists in the back will help you search for or identify even more items than you originally spotted. Did you find that anchovy in the A? How about the Kimono in the K? As you can see, the level of sophistication makes this a book that will suit a wide age range. Bring it along on a car ride to while away the hours.
Charley Harper’s Animal Alphabet, text by Zoe Burke, illustrations by Charley Harper published in 2015 by Pomegranate
Charley Harper needs no introduction. If you want your kids to interact with sizzling design, you might let them meet more than 45 animals, introduced alphabetically, in this handsome book.
Zoe Burke provides brief rhyming text if you want something to read. Otherwise, you can just ooh and ah and name and wonder and chat together about these magnificent creatures.
Language acquisition is at its peak right now. Capitalize on that with these books introducing foreign languages. I’ve mentioned this series of books before. Now there are a couple more titles:
How Monkey Says “My Name Is!” and How Iguana Says “I Love You!” by Abigail Samoun, illustrated by Sarah Watts both published in 2016 by Sterling Children’s Books
Find out how monkey says “My name is Monkey” in eight different languages or how Iguana says “I love you!” as they travel around the world.
The same languages are used in each book: French, Russian, Arabic, Hindi, Mandarin, Japanese, Spanish, and English. Pronunciation guides are included. We will still mangle the sounds of these beautiful languages, but hey, it’s fun to hear the 2-year-old tell Grandma “I love you” in Japanese, right?
If vehicles are your toddler’s bread-and-butter, these should do the trick:
Whose Truck? by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by Jim Datz published in 2015 by Harry N. Abrams
Six trucks. Six riddle-icious questions. Which truck is needed for which job? What do they use it for? What are the special parts on it?
Gatefolds open to reveal the answers. Great, bold design with just the right amount of detail for curious kids. Included is a firetruck, snowplow, ambulance, broadcasting truck, utility truck and crane. Exciting stuff!
Trucks, by Roger Priddy published in 2013 by Priddy Books
Roger Priddy’s trademark black-line and riveting, bold illustrations open up the world of trucks to small fry. Lift the flaps and learn about diggers and dump trucks and fire engines and more.
This is just one in the line of Priddy’s lift-the-flap books that will transfix your kids over and over and over again.
Yellow Copter, by Kersten Hamilton, illustrated by Valeria Petrone published in 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers
This is the book with the most storyline today. But trust me — there’s just a few jazzy lines to help you dive into this breathtaking adventure! The yellow rescue copter is on a mission! He’s got to rescue the teacher who is stuck on the ferris wheel! Watch him get the call and zoop into action!
This is the third in a series of suspenseful, vehicle superhero tales! If you like, track down Blue Boat and Red Truck as well. Much imaginative play will result from these storylines I’m guessing!
Cityblock, by Christopher Franceschelli, illustrated by Peskimo coming soon, in September 2016, from Abrams Appleseed
This is the fourth book in this dynamite series which began with Alphablock. These tremendously-hefty books are illustrated with pizzazz, their pages flooded with booming color, and are conceptually brilliant, with enticing die-cuts revealing just a little something, a hint for us as we guess what we’ll find when we…
…flip it and discover the entire picture.
Explore the city from the heights of a skyscraper to the depths of the subway in this volume. Great little item to have in mind for Christmas, perhaps.
Finally, I’m sure you’re all aware of the Scanimation book series but on the off-chance that you aren’t, these are a blast to share with small children. The one I have at home is:
Waddle, by Rufus Butler Seder published in 2009 by Workman Publishing Co.
Unless you see these, they are terrifically difficult to explain. Using a method of overlaying images and striped acetate, Seder has created mesmerizing MOVING pictures in his books. So yes, you can watch a penguin waddle and a frog hop by turning the pages. And then you can try it, too — can you waddle like a penguin? Can you hop like a frog?
Other books in the series include Gallop!, Swing!, and ABC Animals. Great fun for a wide age range.
Hope you find something you love to “read” with your wee ones!