Board Book Round-up

Fall is upon us, which means it is time for BayViews semi-annual review of new board books. We have not received as many books to review as we have in the past; let’s hope more are submitted as board books are an important area of children’s literature.

New Single Titles

Kenney, Sean. Amazing ABC. Holt, 2012. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-8050-9464-0.

Kenney has previously published books on how to make Lego creations, including one on castles, and another on robots. But this is his first Lego board book. Each page contains three items: the letter of the alphabet, a figure made of Legos, and the word for the figure. For example, L shows a lighthouse made of Legos, with the letter L and the word “lighthouse” on the page. This is effective in both teaching the letter and even as an early reader, especially for Lego fans. A useful book that will reach a specific audience of emergent readers who play with Legos.

Cowen-Fletcher, Jane. Baby Be Kind. Candlewick, 2012. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5647-8.

Two babies and their cute bulldog pup demonstrate various ways to be kind – say hi, share snacks, take turns, and so forth. The book is a little too sweet but does convey the message without being heavy-handed. Parents are likely to seek out this type of book to help their toddlers make friends. The watercolor and pencil illustrations have abundant white space and are a great match for the story.

Powell, Debbie. Trucks. Candlewick, 2012. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5934-9.

“Brrrm, brrrm goes the digger” begins this simple celebration of trucks, with the added feature of onomatopoeia. At the end, we discover the five trucks are all helping to build a house. The digitally created illustrations have a geometric feel, and use a lightly colored palette and considerable white space. The illustrations contain some raised elements and foil-like shiny painted areas, which add a tactile feel. Certainly this will please transportation fans.

New Series Books

Yoon, Salina. In the Ocean. Feiwel, 2012. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-312-66300-1.

Part of a series of three books, this reviewer only saw In the Ocean. Each page has a cartoon illustration of a sea animal, along with the animal’s name. These include jellyfish, sea horse, sea snail, whale, puffer fish, octopus, sea turtle, coral, stingray, and seaweed. There is a die-cut hole in some pages, and colorful foil papers embedded in some of the illustrations, which add interest. If the other two entries, At the Park and At the Beach, are as good as this, libraries will want to purchase the whole series.

Billet, Marion. Noodle Loves to Drive. Nosy Crow/Candlewick, 2012. $8.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-6273.8.

Noodle the panda is the star of this popular board book series, which features “touch and feel” elements such as a foil mirror embedded into the colorful cartoon illustrations. The tactile element adds interest, and Noodle, who plays with various transportation toys in the rhyming story, is very much like the average toddler.

Patricelli, Leslie. Fa La La. Candlewick, 2012. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-3247-2.

The diaper-clad baby with one springy hair growing out of his head is this center of this Christmas-themed story. He helps his parents pick out and decorate a tree, wraps presents, visits Santa, and more, all done in a humorous first person text and deeply colored acrylic illustrations. If you have some of Patricelli’s other board books (Tubby, Potty), you know this will be popular, too, but probably only during the Christmas season.

Yang, Belle. A Nest in Springtime: a Bilingual Book of Numbers. Candlewick, 2012. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5279-1.

Yang, Belle. Summertime Rainbow: a Bilingual Book of Colors. Candlewick, 2012. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-5280-7.

Series Review: I cannot verify the accuracy of the Mandarin, but these board books feature simple stories, illustrated with gouache illustrations. A Nest… features a duck family, with eight chicks and two parents. Summertime…features two rabbits noticing colors in their environment, from green grass to a rainbow. The very brief texts fit nicely on the page, even when done in both English and Mandarin, and will engage babies and toddlers. Bay Area communities will find these popular with everyone, not just Chinese-American families.

Bryant, Megan E. Alphasaurus. Illus. by Luciana Navarro Powell. Chronicle, 2012. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-0748-6.

Bryant, Megan E. Colorasaurus. Illus. by Luciana Navarro Powell. Chronicle, 2012. $9.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-0814-8.

Series Review: These oversized board books are irregularly shaped – they seemed to have been cut to represent the shape of the dinosaur on the cover. The alphabet book features a dinosaur for each letter, beginning with “A is for Allosaurus and its absolutely amazing appetite.” The alliteration is perfect to read to a preschooler, to help with phonological awareness. The book describing colors also features dinosaurs – of course, we do not know what colors the dinosaurs were, so the text describes yellow sand, an orange sun, green leaves, etc. Both books focus on real dinosaurs, not fictional ones. The full color artwork is also very pleasing, and appears to be done with collage or computer generated artwork. Overall, these will be popular with preschoolers; they are a little too long for babies or toddlers.

Board Books Adapted from Picture Books

Kohara, Kazuno. Ghosts In the House. Roaring Brook, 2012. $7.99. ISBN 978-19-59643-725-8.

First published as a picture book in 2008, this reproduces the orange and black illustrations from the original, just in a smaller size. The ghosts are done in a translucent white paint, which adds interest. Overall, the larger version has a much bigger impact, so I would stick with the original picture book version.

Murray, Alison. Apple Pie ABC. Disney/Hyperion, 2012. $6.99, ISBN 978-142316629-0.

The picture book (2010) and board version of this effective alphabet book are the same, except the board is smaller in size. But the story, illustrations, and overall theme work just as well in this smaller size, so this is a solid library purchase. The combination of the alphabet, and the story of the dog trying to steal the pie, is joyful. Be on the lookout for the board version of the companion book, One Two That’s My Shoe (2012), as soon as it is released.

Dale, Penny. Dinosaur Dig! Nosy Crow/Candlewick, 2012. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-6270-7.

Dinosaurs are seen driving various large tractors and vehicles, all the build a new swimming pool! The text describes the dinos from one to ten, but only the word for the number is included, not the numeral, so this does not work as a counting book. The watercolor and pencil illustrations are quite detailed, so the larger picture book version (originally published in 2011) is much preferred.

McBratney, Sam. Let’s Play in the Snow. Illus. by Anita Jeram. Candlewick, 2012. $4.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-6121-2.

The father and son hares from McBratney’s Guess How Much I Love You (1994) are featured in this small board book, adapted from either a picture book or an oversized board book first published in 2007. I searched local libraries for the older version and none had it in their catalogs. Jeram’s light pastel colors are pleasant, but they give the illustrations a “greeting card” like appearance. The story has the father asking his son “I spy something that belongs to a…” and the son makes a correct guess. The text is very long for a board book – a paragraph on each spread, so this is not really aimed at babies or toddlers.

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