Kirkus “Best” Lists, Fall Board Book Round-up Part 3

Red PencilKirkus Announces “Best Children’s Books of 2014”: Kirkus Reviews announced their choices for the best books for children of 2014, organizing the list into 11 categories. These include “Best Informational Picture Books,” “Best Pictures Books to Start a Conversation,” and “Best Middle Grade Books for Readers Who Like Quirky.” For the full lists, see: http://www.kirkusreviews.com/issue/best-of-2014/section/children/lists/?utm_source=Kirkus+Best+Children%27s+Books+Announcement&utm_campaign=KirkusChildren&utm_medium=email.

Fall Board Book Round-up, Part 3

Last September we offered Part 1 of our annual Fall Board Book Round-up, where we talked about new entries in various series. In October, Part 2
discussed individual titles and favorite characters. This month we will review recent board book adaptations of picture books as our final segment of the Fall Board Book Round-up.

Generally speaking, board book adaptations of picture books are not usually successful, although each review was approached with an open mind. If the text of the book was abridged, or illustrations left out due to the smaller board book format, that often makes for a confusing story. Even when the board version preserves all the text and illustrations, if the print is very small and the illustrations have been “shrunk” in size, that can also make for a less than appealing book. These are the type of things to look for when comparing the board version to the original picture book, which was done for each of these reviews.

Picture Book Adaptations

DuckWells, Rosemary. A Visit to Dr. Duck. Candlewick, 2011/2014. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-7229-4.
Originally seen in Wells’ Felix Feels Better (Candlewick, 2000), one could argue that this board book edition is more successful, with more focus on the doctor visit. Felix has a stomach ache which Dr. Duck treats with two spoonfuls of Happy Tummy. This is a great introduction to visiting the doctor that will assure young ones that they should not be frightened. Wells’ customary animal cartoon characters and a witty narrative keeps this from being too much of a “message” book. Recommended for all libraries.

VanLieshout, Maria. Backseat A-B-See. Chronicle Books, 2012/2014. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-3732-2.
This alphabet of traffic signs is very successful in the board format, because nothing is left out or changed. The only difference is the slightly smaller size, but that doesn’t hurt the book because of the clear color graphics of the signs. Buy a copy just to keep in the car. Check out our storytime theme of “Signs and Signage” for good books with which to pair this: http://www.bayviews.org/storytime/stsigns.html .

Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. Duck! Rabbit! Illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. Chronicle Books, 2009/2014. $7.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-3733-9.
Although small in size, the board version of this clever book is still quite effective, especially for one-on-one sharing. As in the original, the same white creature outlined in black is shown in each picture – is it a duck or a rabbit? There were no words or pictures omitted from the board version so it is just as pleasing as the original. The one negative it that this version is too small for storytime sharing, but other than that it is a winner.

Parenteau, Shirley. Bears in Beds. Illus. by David Walker. Candlewick, 2012/2014. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-7098-6.
Soft pastel illustrations and a simple rhyming text describe a large bear and four cubs who sleep in beds. Soon the wind scares them, and the cubs are too afraid to sleep in their own beds. The story and artwork are just right for babies and toddlers, and the board version doesn’t abridge anything (it is just smaller in size), so this works fine for a parent and child reading experience.

Marley, Cedella. One Love. Illus. by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Chronicle Books, One Love2011/2014. ISBN 978-1-4521-3855-8.
Perfect for a baby storytime, this adaptation of the Bob Marley song by his daughter Cedella is successful in both board and picture book formats. The brief rhythmic narrative and repeated phrase will motivate audience participation, and the full color mixed media artwork is joyous, featuring a multi-ethnic community singing together and renovating an urban park.

Dale, Penny. Dinosaur Zoom! Nosy Crow, 2012/2014. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-7394-9.
Dinosaurs drive various vehicles to the park and prepare a birthday party for the littlest dinosaur in this colorful book filled with lots of sound words. The board version is just smaller than the original but no text or illustrations have been omitted, except for the picture book’s endpapers that had the names of the dinosaurs. Sure to be popular and very useful for libraries to offer parents for one-on-one reading.

Kirk, Daniel. Honk Honk! Beep Beep! Disney Hyperion, 2010/2014. $6.99. ISBN 978-142318041-8.
Another rhyming vehicle story filled with onomatopoeia, this time it is toy animals and figures driving a toy jeep. The board version is not abridged so it is useful for parents to read to a child, although the picture book version is preferable for storytime. The full color illustrations have a computer graphics feel, similar to the toys in the animated “Toy Story” films.

Sutton, Sally. Demolition. Illus. by Brian Lovelock. Candlewick, 2012/2014. $ 6.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-6493-0.
A rhyming text and plenty of onomatopoeia are the highlight of this story, paired with fairly realistic illustrations of construction machinery. The board version has all the text and pictures of the original except the chart of vehicles on the very last page, which is not needed to enjoy the story. This will be popular and a good purchase for libraries. There is also a Spanish language board book edition:
Demoliciòn. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-7031-3.

Willems, Mo. Who Sleeps, Cat the Cat? Balzer+Bray, 2010/2014. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-06-230655-5.
Originally published as Time to Sleep, Sheep the Sheep!, this go-to-bed story is perfect for babies and toddlers. Cat helps each animal friend get ready for bed, except for Owl (who is nocturnal). The deeply saturated colors of the clear cartoon illustrations will hold the attention of even very young babies. Older siblings can read this to the younger ones, since Willems’ Cat books are great for emergent readers, with plenty of repetition. A very successful adaptation into the board book format.

Scheffler, Axel. Pip and Posy: The Scary Monster. Nosy Crow, 2011/2014. $6.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-7231-7.
Because the picture book editions of the “Pip and Posy” books are relatively small in size, the board versions are not that different. Here, the pair has fun making cupcakes and scaring each other with a blue fuzzy monster costume. The somewhat quiet story is a nice alternative to many Halloween books that may be too intense for some.

Hest, Amy. Kiss Good Night. Illus. by Anita Jeram. Candlewick, 2001/2013. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-4748-3.
As large as the original picture book, this book is basically the same except for the board pages and cover. Mrs. Bear tries to get her cub Sam to go to sleep, but the autumn wind, rain, and leaves keep him up. The plot is the same as Mother, Mother, I Want Another by Maria Polushkin which came out in 1978, so this is not very original. However, the colorful illustrations, dominated by browns and orange are great for an autumn-themed storytime.

Problematic Adaptations

Black, Birdie. Just Right for Christmas. Illus. by Rosalind Beardshaw. Nosy Crow, 2011/2014.
A king asks his servants to make a red cloak for his daughter, and the scraps are taken by a kitchen maid who makes a jacket for her mother. Several animals take the smaller scraps to make clothes for their family members in a story too long for the board book audience. Paragraphs of text are set onto the small pages, along with colorful cartoon illustrations that are too detailed for their small size. Stick with the larger picture book version, which works well for storytime with the folktale-like plot and some repeated phrases.

Gibbs, Edward. I Spy with My Little Eye. Templar, 2011/2014. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-7636-7163-1.
At first glance, a board version of this guessing game could be beneficial, since the die-cuts are likely to hold up better in cardboard pages. But two out of the seven animals are omitted, leaving the board version with just five animals to guess. Also, the last page of the picture book is also left out, which encourages children to look at their environment. Stick with the picture book rather than this abridged version, so children can benefit from the full package. The picture book is great for storytimes for a wide age range, since many toddlers will be able to guess the animals, and older children will enjoy the puzzle as well.

Rinker, Sherri Duskey. Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site (sound book). Illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. Chronicle Books, 2014. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-2824-5.
Substantially adapted and abridged from the original, this board version also has five sound buttons for the child to push. Each illustration contains pictures of some of the buttons, cuing the child to push those buttons to hear the sound of the pictured truck. The story is very brief but like the picture book, focuses on construction equipment going to sleep. Also, it appears that the original illustrations were used, with certain areas of a picture cropped to focus on one particular machine. The sound effects will annoy library staff quickly and this feature is likely to break after a few uses, so this will not hold up to library circulation. The “snoring” button sounds like Darth Vader.

By Penny Peck, San Jose State Univ.

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