June 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Board Book Bonanza | Preschool to Grade 4 Roundup

Get the latest SLJ reviews every month, subscribe today and save up to 35%.


In our special July issue devoted to Early Learning, the review editors put together an article, “Get On Board,” featuring 28 new and noteworthy board boards for people to consider adding to their collections. We thought the time was right to offer another roundup, this time with board books published in the second half of 2014. We have divided up our list to include new books, titles new to the board book format, and a selection of titles in Spanish. We think you’ll agree that even adding a few of these colorful and winning titles will enhance and enrich library collections and reinforce the work of parents, caregivers, and teachers in helping promote early learning and pre-reading skills.

New Titles

Dogs. ISBN 9781426317057.

Things That Go . ISBN 9781426317064.

ea. vol. 24p. (Look & Learn). National Geographic for Kids. 2014. Board $6.99.

PreS-K- This series features titles about dogs and transportation, perennially popular subjects that will have no trouble attracting pre-readers. With bright backgrounds and crisp photos, the small volumes pack in a good deal of information. Both titles offer simple definitions followed by specific examples in context and question prompts to spark dialogic reading. Things That Go features helpful labeling, such as the parts of a car (taillight, wheel, window, headlight), while Dogs includes miniature “Guess What?” sidebars with fun factoids (“Dogs with light-colored coats can get sunburned, just like people!”). Fun and informative.

Hill, Emma. My First Book of Animals. ISBN 9781770853133.

––––. My First Book of Colors. ISBN 9781770853140.

––––. My First Book of Numbers. ISBN 9781770853126.

ea vol: 12p. (My First Book). Firefly. 2014. Tr $6.99.

PreS –Colorful concept books with accordion pages, these titles introduce common farm animals and pets, numbers from one to 12, and an assortment of flora and fauna to match the colors of the rainbow. Dazzling photos, one per page, are set against bold complementary backdrops, making the objects easy to identify and count. Solid additions.

Hood, Susan. Tickly Toes. illus. by Barroux. 24p. Kids Can. 2014. Board $9.95. ISBN 9781894786522.

PreS –This playful rhyming text with simply drawn acrylic and pencil images celebrates the day-to-day interactions between babies and their parents. “Those ten little piggies!/Watch how they wiggle./We count them and kiss them/and, oh, how you giggle!” Hood encourages movement and stretches in addition to belly laughs and squeals of delight.

Krensky, Stephen. I Am So Brave! illus. by Sara Gillingham. 12p. Abrams Appleseed. 2014. Board $6.95. ISBN 9781419709371. LC 2013041482.

PreS –In this appealing selection, a sweet, engaging narrator shares some of his experiences overcoming his initial trepidation and trying new things. Gillingham’s bold, graphic-style art is expressive and exuberant and perfectly complements the empowering text to help toddlers as they begin to grow and explore their worlds.

Litton, Jonathan. Roar: A Big-Mouthed Book of Sounds! ISBN 9781589255937.

––––. Zoom: A Fast-Paced Book of Colors! ISBN 9781589255944.

ea vol: illus. by Fhiona Galloway. 16p. (My Little World). Tiger Tales. 2014. Board. $7.99.

PreS –These zany concept books use bright, simple illustrations and enthusiastic text written in verse to convey basic information on colors and animal sounds. The array of vehicles in Zoom (including everything from a bulldozer to an ice-cream truck) and the variety of animals, both wild and domestic, in Sounds gives these titles tons of kid appeal. Die-cut holes add a tactile element, making these perfect for the youngest readers.

Litton, Jonathan. Snap!: A Peek-through Book of Shapes. ISBN 9781589255661.

––––. Tall and Short : A Peek-through Book of Opposites. ISBN 9781589255654.

ea vol: illus. by Fhiona Galloway. 16p. (My Little World). Tiger Tales. 2014. Board. $7.99.

PreS This exuberant pair of concept books relies upon bright, eye-catching illustration paired with simple text. Tall and Short places endearing, smiling cartoon animals in whimsical situations to convey opposites, while Snap engages readers in a matching game to shed light on shapes. Die-cut holes throughout both books only add to the fun.


Porter, Matthew. Fox on the Loose! illus. by Matthew Porter. 20p. Sasquatch. 2014. Board $9.99. ISBN 9781570619281.

PreS –A hungry fox creeps into a barnyard and wakes up some young chicks, whose cheeps of alarm set off a chain reaction that ultimately stirs the dog, who frightens the interloper away. Porter’s vibrant artwork painted on pinewood have a folk-art feel and a classic folktale vibe. A lively rhyming romp for those ready for a real story.

Siminovich, Lorena. You Are My Baby: Pets. ISBN 9781452134307.

––––. You Are My Baby: Woodland. ISBN 9781452134314.

ea vol: illus. by Lorena Siminovich. 10p. Chronicle. 2014. Board. $8.99.

PreS –These engaging intros to pet and woodland animals are perfectly in tune with toddlers’ sense and sensibilities. There are two books in one (mama size and baby size), a matching activity, counting exercises, and a peek at animal sounds and behavior. Throughout the books, the bonds between a mother and child and the words “You are my baby” are reinforced on every page. The simple graphic images are lively and appealing. Sure to be cuddle-time favorites.

Trochatos, Litsa. Don’t. illus. by Virginia Johnson. 24p. Groundwood. 2014. Board $9.95. ISBN 9781554983551.

PreS-Gr 1 –A collection of quirky admonishments for budding contrarians. Trochatos offers children rules for successful living by telling them what not to do. Examples include “Don’t start a food fight with an octopus,” “Don’t let a cheetah drive your car,” and “Don’t invite a bear to a sleepover in winter.” The results of not taking this advice are made quite clear in the splashy and super silly watercolors. The humor and situations require a bit more sophistication than is typical in most board books, but readers will still enjoy it.


New to this Format

Baker, Keith. No Two Alike. illus. by Keith Baker. 36p. S. & S./Little Simon. 2014. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781481415026.

PreS –Two seemingly identical red birds flit through the snow, conveying a simple yet significant message: everything—and everyone—is unique. The combination of Baker’s soothing, rhythmic cadence and his gentle, soft-hued illustrations result in a surprisingly warm winter wonderland.

Freedman, Claire. Silly Dilly Duckling. illus. by Jane Chapman. 22p. Tiger Tales. 2014. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781589255784.

PreS –The loss of one of her downy yellow feathers sends Dilly Duck into a tailspin as she and several of her animal friends set off on a wild duck chase to catch it. Disheartened, she returns to her mama, who assures her that the yellow feathers are meant to fly and that in time they will be replaced by white grown-up ones. The bright, sun-drenched artwork is enormously appealing, as is the endearing duckling protagonist.

Gaiman, Neil. Chu’s Day. illus. by Adam Rex. 36p. HarperFestival. 2014. Board $7.99. ISBN 9780062347466. LC 2012942557.

PreS –The orderly routine of Chu’s daily life, which include a trip to the library and lunch at a diner, is upended when the adorable little panda sneezes. Rex’s gorgeous, rich illustrations depict an enchantingly old-fashioned world of hilariously anthropomorphized beasts. The satisfying chaos that ensues when an “Achoo!” turns everything upside down will have readers giggling again and again.

Johnson, Angela. Lottie Paris Lives Here. illus. by Scott M. Fischer. 34p. S. & S./Little Simon. 2014. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781481409667.

PreS-Gr 1 –Lottie is a little girl with lots of personality and an overabundant imagination. She lives in a house directly across from a park and has plenty of adventures both indoors and out. She also seems to spend a fair share of her days in timeout in the quiet chair, but nothing keeps her down. Charming watercolor artwork and a playful text introduce readers to this vivacious child and her endlessly entertaining world.

Luebs, Robin. Pick Me Up, Mama! 34p. S. & S./Little Simon. Dec. 2014. Board $5.99. ISBN 9781481416337; ebk. $5.99. ISBN 9781481436397.

PreS –This sweetly illustrated story follows a raccoon toddler who implores her mother to pick her up or put her down as she goes about her busy day. The rhyming text describes how the youngster bravely navigates her world—getting dressed, going out, eating meals and snacks—knowing that her mama is right there when she needs her. The soft-focus art is colorful and appealing. A perfect choice to pick up before putting a child to bed.

McKee, David. Elmer. illus. by David McKee. 32p. HarperFestival. 2014. Board $7.99. ISBN 9780062324054.

PreS –The story of the patchworked pachyderm, who just celebrated his 25th birthday, is now available in board book form. A new generation of children can traipse through the jungle with Elmer as he meets friends and learns to embrace his unique style. Though the text might be a tad long for toddler storytimes, the bright colors and comic facial expressions will charm young listeners.

MARLEY , Cedella , adapt. One Love . illus by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. 24p. Chronicle. 2014. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781452138558.

PreS –The mixed-media artwork in this board book is so joyous and energetic that it can barely be contained on its vibrant pages. They tell the story of how a single small person’s inspiration can spark a community into action. The rhythmic verse and rousing refrain beg to be read (or sung) over and over again.

Martin, Bill, Jr. Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See? ISBN 9780805099492. LC 2006037769.

––––. Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? ISBN 9780805099508. LC 2002010855.

ea vol: illus. by Eric Carle. 28p. (Brown Bear and Friends). Holt. 2014. Board. $12.99.

PreS-Gr 1 –Lap book editions (8.5” x 11”) of two of this creative team’s classic titles. The simple, repetitive texts encourage toddler interaction, and the bold iconic images are perfect for one-on-one and small group sharing. The first title features 10 North American animals, while the second spotlights 10 endangered or threatened species. Carle’s gorgeous painted and cut-paper collages are enormously appealing and engaging.

Pfister, Marcus. Questions, Questions. adapted by Marcus Pfister & Susan Pearson. illus. by Marcus Pfister. 32p. NorthSouth Books. 2014. Board $8.95. ISBN 9780735841703.

PreS –This contemplative title will inspire children to ponder some of the mysteries of nature (how do birds learn to sing? How do the leaves change color?). Featuring vivid, textual acrylic illustrations that almost beg to be touched and quietly lyrical text in verse, this one is a treat for budding young philosophers.


Rosenthal, Amy Krouse. Duck! Rabbit! illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. 40p. Chronicle. 2014. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781452137339.

PreS –In this clever board book told in two voices, viewers are asked to identify a single central figure in different ways. Is it a duck? Is it a rabbit? It all depends on where you sit and the few subtle details that are offered. The heavy black outlined artwork is deceptively simple and brilliantly executed. Duck? Rabbit? Let the debate rage on!

Thiele, Bob & George David Weiss. What a Wonderful World. illus. by Tim Hopgood. 28p. Holt. Dec. 2014. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781627792561. LC 2014017148.

PreS –This musical affirmation of the wonders of the human and natural worlds, famously recorded by Louis Armstrong, is accompanied by whimsical child-focused artwork. Whether read, sung, or listened to, the words resonate with hope and sweetness and the lively digital images perfectly complement the uplifting tone.

van Lieshout, Maria. Backseat A-B-See. 26p. Chronicle. 2014. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781452137322.

PreS –A perfect book for families on the go. It opens with a child in a car and the words “Vroom! Vroom!/From the backseat,/what do you see?” and proceeds to move through the alphabet via road signs—A is for “Airport,” B is for “Bike Route,” and C is for “Children at Play.” The bold graphic images pop on the blacktop backgrounds, with the capital letters and the broken line in the center on the pages appearing in white. Great for encouraging observation skills and visual literacy. This board book belongs in every car seat.

Verdick, Elizabeth. Diapers Are Not Forever/Los pañales no son para siempre. tr. from English by Ingrid Paredes. Bilingual ed. ISBN 9781575424293. LC 2014001014.

––––. Noses Are Not for Picking. ISBN 9781575424712. LC 2014011460.

ea vol: illus. by Marieka Heinlen. 32p. (Best Behavior). Free Spirit. 2014. Tr. $7.95.

PreS-K –These simple, straightforward guides are a boon to parents, daycare providers, and nursery school teachers, gently reinforcing best practices and reassuring toddlers and preschoolers that they are in control of their bodies and their health. The rhyming texts and appealing art contribute to the positive and affirming messages. The first title, now available in English and in Spanish, explains how and why to use the potty and encourages kids with practical advice to try and to succeed. The second title explains what noses do and why it’s important to use tissues: “Blow. Toss./Wash and dry./Tell those germs good-bye.” Both books offer tips for parents and caregivers at the end. An excellent series.

Wells, Rosemary. A Visit to Dr. Duck. illus. by Rosemary Wells. 30p. Candlewick. 2014. Board $7.99. ISBN 9780763672294.

PreS –Following a late night filled with chocolate, Felix wakes up under the weather. Mama attempts some home remedies: chamomile tea, sugared prunes, and fresh air. When Felix shows no improvement, Mama calls Dr. Duck. At the doctor’s office, Felix is initially frightened and hides behind Mama but is quickly soothed by his mother’s presence. Dr. Duck checks Felix’s heart, ears, and temperature. A dose of “Happy Tummy” is administered and Felix is sent on his way. The next morning he is ready for fun, proving that Dr. Duck is no quack. The lovely illustrations are rendered in watercolor, ink, and other media. This soothing book will resonate with its young audience who will inevitably be in Felix’s position one day. Wells’s fans will be pleased with this tender and reassuring addition.

Willems, Mo. Who Says That, Cat the Cat? ISBN 9780062306548.

––––. Who Sleeps, Cat the Cat? ISBN 9780062306555.

ea vol: illus. by Mo Willems. 22p. (Cat the Cat). HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray. 2014. Board. $6.99.

PreS–Two mini adventures of Cat the Cat by the cartoon master Willems. In the first book, Cat asks various animal about the sounds they make, and toddlers will love to chime in on the woofs, peeps, and moos. But when Bunny the Bunny tries to add his voice to the chorus, the animal friends have to read his body language to identify what he needs. In the second offering, Cat announces that it’s time to sleep, and all of the animals are on board and well into their bedtime routines, until she comes to the Owl the Owl, who is wide awake. Fun, engaging artwork and clever surprise endings are the hallmarks of these little gems.

WILLIAMS, Sam . Bunny and Bee Favorite Colors. illus. by Sam Williams. 24p. Boxer Bks. 2014. Board $6.95. ISBN 9781907967900.

PreS–In this wisp of surrealistic fun, two children—one of whom wears a bee costume, the other of whom is outfitted in a bunny suit—awaken from their tree house home to spend an autumn day together. Soft, muted illustrations depict the adorably cherubic pair, emphasizing the quiet joys of nature and friendship. Another sweet outing.

WOLFF, Ashley. Baby Bear Sees Blue. illus. by Ashley Wolff. 42p. S. & S./Little Simon. 2014. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781481415033.

PreS–Under the guidance of his watchful mother, an inquisitive baby bear romps through a rainbow of shades, encountering everything from the golden yellows of the sun to the juicy reds of some berries, in this gentle concept book. Enchanting watercolors convey an idyllic natural world and a strong parent-child bond that will keep readers young and old turning pages.


En Español


Campbell, Rod. Querido zoo: ¡Un libro con solapas! illus. by Rod Campbell. 18p. Bruño. 2014. Board ISBN 9788469600474.

PreS–The Spanish translation of Campbell’s classic “lift-the-flap” book about the search for the perfect pet should soon be a favorite with the youngest of readers. The predictive, repetitive text and easy-to-manage flaps will strengthen babies’ memory skills and fine motor skills.

Crozon, Alain. ¡1, 2, 3, Arriba!: ¡Un Libro Con Movimento! Spanish ed. 10p. Kókinos. 2014. Board ISBN 9788416126019.

PreS–Each page in this vibrant Spanish-language board book depicts an animal acting out basic movements, such as “Up/Down” and “Right/Left.” Toddlers will delight in the creatures’ silly antics and Crozon’s large, electric images.

Dieterlé, Nathalie. Iyoké y el gran pastel koki. 14p. Edelvives. 2014. Board ISBN 9788426394484.

PreS –The title character really wants to eat his giant piece of cake. However, all of the animals would also like a nibble, and the treat is getting smaller and smaller. The illustrations feature chuckle-inducing facial expressions and child-friendly high jinks.

Molina, Silvia. Todo por una Codorniz. illus. by Quetzal León. 22p. Cidcli. 2014. Board ISBN 9786078351091.

PreS–Red Fox wakes up with a craving for quail soup, but not being able to find the bird, he’s content to eat a gray mouse. The wily mouse convinces the fox to search for the quail instead. And so the tale continues as each animal convinces the hungry hunter to delay his meal more and more. The repetitive and rhyming text will engage young readers and the characters’ silly antics will elicit giggles.

These titles were provided by The Bilingual Publications Co., 270 Lafayette Street – Suite 705, New York, NY 10012

This article was published in School Library Journal's December 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.