May 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Toddler Season | Board Book Roundup

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Snow (Thompson) ©2015 by Carol Tompson.

Snow (Thompson) ©2015 by Carol Tompson.

BANks, Kate. Close Your Eyes. illus. by Georg Hallensleben. 18p. Farrar/Frances Foster Bks. 2015. Board $7.99. ISBN 9780374301019.

Toddler-PreS–A little tiger’s mama allays his fears of the dark and encourages him to go to sleep. “Dark is just the other side of light. It’s what comes before dreams.” She assures him that his dreams can be bold and adventurous and that she’ll always be right at his side when he awakens. The soothing words and reassuring message and Hallensleben’s splendid, painterly landscapes and dreamscapes create a lovely package to curl up to and revisit, nap after nap, night after night.

BARTON, Byron. My Bus. illus. by Byron Barton. 16p. photos. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. 2015. Board $7.99. ISBN 9780062287380.

Toddler-PreS–Barton sends a buoyant busload of dogs and cats traveling about town, counting the new arrivals as they board. The animals’ rides end when they reach their various destinations—a boat, a train, and a plane—and they sail, ride, or fly away as their journeys continue. Vibrant images of dogs, cats, and transport: What more could a toddler ask for?

Bears. ISBN 9781426318757.
—–. Bugs. ISBN 9781426318764.
ea vol: 24p. (Look & Learn). National Geographic. 2015. Tr $6.99.

PreS-K–Crisp, full-color photographs on brightly colored backgrounds present simple animal nonfiction subjects for the very youngest pre-readers. With short sentences and simple questions designed to promote dialogic reading (“Can you point to the ladybug’s wings?”), these attractive and sturdy titles can be enjoyed one-on-one with budding nature lovers or be integrated into toddler storytimes.

BLACKSTONE, Stella. Baby Talk. 16p. photos. Barefoot Bks. 2015. Board $6.99. ISBN 9781782852223.

Baby-ToddlerBaby Talk is all about how people interact with their babies. Sharp, clear black-and-white images capture wee ones being held, cuddled, sung to, and read to by family members, highlighted by the babies’ supposed refrain: “I talk to you/And you talk to me.” The jazzy, high-contrast design and the appealing array of diverse faces make this board book a must-have for most early childhood collections.

1601_BoardBks-Cvs1BLOOM, Suzanne. A Splendid Friend, Indeed. illus. by Suzanne Bloom. 18p. Boyds Mills. 2015. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781629794082.

Toddler-PreS–The Geisel Honor book is given a sturdier edition for small hands. The gregarious Goose interrupts Bear’s reading and writing. The fowl’s bubbling personality can’t help but win over Bear, despite his intention of having a quiet afternoon. The spare text celebrates friendship, reading, and writing and is perfect for emphasizing early literacy practices. The figures’ body language and facial expressions will induce giggles, and the sumptuous blues and whites will invite repeat reads.

BURKE, Zoe. Charley Harper’s Animal Alphabet. ISBN 9780764972331.
—–. Charley Harper’s Book of Colors. ISBN 9780764972614.
—–. Charley Harper’s Count the Birds. ISBN 9780764972461.
ea vol: illus. by Charley Harper. 24p. Pomegranate. 2015. Board $10.95.

Baby-Toddler–Striking images featuring geometric shapes, bold contrasting colors, and touches of humor introduce basic concepts to children in these beautifully designed books. Simple rhyming texts accompany the stylized pictures of animals from angelfish and grosbeaks to owls and vipers. For arty babies and toddlers everywhere.

BUSBY, Ailie. Fall. 13p. ISBN 9781846437441.
—–. Spring. 12p. ISBN 9781846437410.
—–. Summer. 12p. ISBN 9781846437427.
—–. Winter. 13p. ISBN 9781846437458.

ea vol: illus. by Ailie Busby. (Seasons). Child’s Play. 2015. Board $4.99.

Toddler-PreS –Pastel artwork with touches of vibrant tones illustrate the sounds, sights, and activities that each season brings. There’s lots to see in these cheery, cartoon-style images of diverse groups of children as they collect acorns and leaves, play in the snow, plant seeds, and don sunscreen and sun hats.

BUZZEO, Toni. Whose Truck? illus. by Jim Datz. 24p. Abrams Appleseed. 2015. Board $9.95. ISBN 9781419716126.

Toddler-PreS– This informational board book introduces six common work vehicles that youngsters are apt to see around town—a utility truck, a snowplow, a fire truck, an ambulance, a crane, and a broadcast truck—and the important jobs they perform. For each one, a scenario is suggested and a full-page rendering depicts the vehicle with the special attachments and features labeled. The text reads: “Whose truck is this? Do you know?” and the lift of a flap shows lineworkers, firefighters, highway maintenance workers, EMTs, crane operators, and a broadcast team in action. The bold, graphic cartoon style provides just the right amount of detail. Perfect for preschool community worker units and vehicle-loving kids.

CAMPBELL, Rod. Farm Animals. illus. by Rod Campbell. 12p. S. & S./Little Simon. 2015. Board $6.99. ISBN 9781481449847.

Toddler-PreS– The creator of Dear Zoo (Little Simon, 2005) here introduces wee ones to the animals of the barnyard and the sounds they make. There’s a dog, a cow, a sheep, a pig, a hen, a cat, and some chicks. The simply drawn artwork features appealing colors, and the rounded animals with open mouths really appear to be expressing themselves. A fine choice to read before or after a rousing round of “Old MacDonald.”

CARPENTER, Tad. Arctic Animals. ISBN 9781454912279.
—–. On the Go. ISBN 9781454912255.
—–. When I Grow Up. ISBN 9781454912286.

ea vol: illus. by Tad Carpenter. 21p. (Who’s That?). Sterling. 2015. Board $7.95.

Toddler-PreS– The classic combination of an open-ended question (“Who’s That?”) paired with lift-the-flap revelations yields a fun addition to storytime read-alouds for the very young. Each title in the series focuses on toddler-friendly subjects—­vehicles, jobs, and animals. A limited palette (blues, greens, and white in Arctic Animals; purple, green, and yellow in On the Go; and blue, green, and orange in When I Grow Up) combines with simple shapes to give Carpenter’s art a retro-style appeal. Busy compositions will encourage extended conversation about the settings and characters in these interactive offerings.

Choo! Choo! ISBN 9781846437465.
Tap! Tap! ISBN 9781846437472.
Toot! Toot! ISBN 9781846437496.

ea vol: illus. by Cocoretto. 12p. (What’s That Noise?). Child’s Play. 2015. Board. $7.99.

Baby-Toddler –Vivid colors, charming animal characters, easy-to-lift flaps, and child-friendly onomatopoeia make this series a delightful pick for little ones. In Choo! Choo!, readers are treated to fun-to-say vehicle sounds in bold print. Even the smallest of hands won’t hesitate to lift the flap to reveal favorite vehicles. In Tap! Tap!, young critters are busy at play with fun toys. Each introductory page presents a typical sound with the question “What’s that noise?” Some of the sound-to-toy connections are a bit of a stretch, but kids won’t be disappointed in the characters’ silly antics. Toot! Toot! showcases instruments that young children might already be aware of, but can also be useful in extending vocabularies, especially as a precursor to musical storytimes or programs. A pleasant, fun (and noisy) concept series for most board book collections.

1601_BoardBks-Cvs2CLEMENT, Nathan. Job Site. illus. by Nathan Clement. 12p. Boyds Mills. Board. 2015.$7.99. ISBN 9781629794075.

Toddler-PreS–Y  –Young fans of construction vehicles are sure to appreciate the realistic depictions of a working construction site, with a bulldozer, excavator, loader, dump truck, compactor, mixer, and crane each making an appearance as the site boss orders them to level piles, scoop gravel, and pour cement. Bright digital art keeps the focus on the tasks at hand in this board book edition of a picture book originally published in 2011.

Crozon, Alain. All Shook Up! ISBN 9781452140131.
––––. Who’s There? ISBN 9781452140148.
ea vol: illus. by Alain Crozon. 12p. Chronicle. 2015. Board $10.99.

PreS–A bold Technicolor palette, clever alliteration, fun rhyme, and innovative flaps make these entertaining choices for dextrous preschoolers. In All Shook Up!, children get the chance to practice their directions: up, down, right, left, back, and front. Showcased throughout are rambunctious animals flapping, fluttering, kicking, and swinging. This work is a perfect inspiration for wiggles and giggles. Young readers are invited to explore different iterations of the titular question in Who’s There? Opening with onomatopoeic exclamations, each page features a mystery to be solved by curious little hands. Kids will be pleasantly surprised by what they find after lifting several flaps to discover what’s hidden underneath.

DENEUX, Xavier. Farm. ISBN 9781452145174.
—–. Vehicles. ISBN 9781452145167.
ea vol: tr. from French. illus. by Éditions Milan. 16p. (Touch, Think, Learn). Chronicle. 2015. Board $14.99.

Toddler-PreS–In design and concept, these are sophisticated tactile primers. Thick pages present a bright, labeled illustration in relief on the left of each spread (donkey, fox, bus, airplane, etc.), facing a related recessed image and a discreetly placed list of related nouns and verbs (hoof, grazing, wheels, riding) to identify and discuss. Subtle and stylish.

FERRI, Giuliano. The Snowball. illus. by Giuliano Ferri. 18p. Minedition. 2015. Board $9.99. ISBN 97809888240425.

Toddler-PreS–A little mouse finds a snowball and, with the help of his friends, creates an even bigger surprise in this tale of collaboration, imagination, and problem-solving. In this book set against the backdrop of a lovely winter day, the little mouse pushes the snowball up the hill, and each page turn garners a new critter to aid in his journey. The circle die-cut gets bigger and bigger as they reach the hill’s apex, but a sudden disaster dissolves the large mound of snow. Never fear! Each animal shares a clothing item to produce a new snow creation. The simple text and watercolorlike illustrations will engage little ones and inspire them to have their own wintry fun.

Gillingham, Sara. Friends. ISBN 9781452141886.
––––. Trucks. ISBN 9781452141879.

ea vol: illus. by Sara Gillingham. 10p. (Busy Baby). Chronicle. 2015. Board. $9.99.

Baby-Toddler–Adorable volumes about a busy baby who finds time to make new friends, play, fix sidewalk cracks, and drive a fire truck. In these interactive entries, the gender-neutral main character’s face can be spun to change facial expressions via an ingenious use of die-cuts. In Friends, Busy Baby can be found in a nursery school–like environment playing music, painting, and cleaning up with his new mates—all anthropomorphized young animals. Readers will delight in making Busy Baby’s frown go right side up with a flick of a finger. In Trucks, the series star rushes to put out a fire, loads up recycled garbage, and puts an end to a heat wave with much-needed ice cream. Colorful illustrations on white backgrounds make these titles extra fun.

Grandma’s Nursery Rhymes: Old MacDonald. illus. by Petra Brown. 18p. Sleeping Bear. 2015. Board $6.99. ISBN 9781585366095.

Toddler-PreS –In this super-cute version of the nursery song, Old MacDonald is a rabbit in a sun hat and red wellies. And on her farm, she has some chicks…that are fun to look for and count. There are the requisite “E-I-E-I-Os,” and the bright, colorful pages introduce several barnyard creatures—a duck, a pig, a turkey, a cow, a cat, and a dog—and their sounds, for subsequent verses. This engaging board book is sure to get folks singing.

HENKES, Kevin. Kitten’s First Full Moon. illus. by Kevin Henkes. 34p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. 2015. Board $8.99. ISBN 9780062417107.

Toddler-PreS –A frisky nocturnal creature and a reflection of a lunar body (that resembles a bowl of milk) add up to a satisfying tale for the youngest listeners. Shades of black and gray illustrate Henkes’s Caldecott winner featuring this frolicking feline determined to lap up her due on a nighttime jaunt outdoors.

MARTIN, Emily Winfield. Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey. illus. by Emily Winfield Martin. 16p. Random. 2015. Board $9.99. ISBN 9780553521900.

Toddler-PreS–Children are carried off to Dreamland with the aid of their stuffed animals, light nights, and mobiles. Drifting off to fairy lands, below the ocean, and to constellation-filled skies, the darling toddlers are shown sleeping in their beds, cuddling their toys on one page, and playing with a larger version of their inanimate friend on the opposite page. Lyrical text and lilting rhyme add to the illustrations’ vintage, painterly feel. A sweet bedtime send-off.

NEYER, Andrew. Letters Are for Learning. illus. by Andrew Neyer. 22p. Blue Manatee. 2015. Board $9.99. ISBN 9781936669370.

PreS– This quirky abecedarian offers one alliterative sentence per letter (“A is for adding./B is for bouncing./C is for cooking.”) paired with clever illustrations depicting more letter-themed animals and activities for careful readers to discover. For example, “J is for juggling” features a jellyfish juggling jewels, jig-saw puzzle pieces, jelly beans, and Jell-O. Awash in silliness, this is perfect for preschoolers already familiar with their ABCs.

1601_BoardBks-Cvs3PRESTON-GANNON, Frann. What a Hoot! illus. by Frann Preston-Gannon. 12p. POW! 2015. Board $12.95. ISBN 9781576877586.

Toddler-PreS– This aptly titled book is sure to leave readers smiling. A variety of different owls are presented; most represent the concept of opposites, but a few are thrown in just for fun (“Owl is big. Owl is small. Owl in glasses. Owl in boots.”). Striking, vibrant, collagelike illustrations burst with energy, and children will love looking for the snails interspersed throughout.

RAMADIER, Cédric. Shh! This Book Is Sleeping. tr. from French. illus. by Vincent Bourgeau. 20p. Random. 2016. Board $8.99. ISBN 9780553538755.

Toddler-PreS– Youngsters familiar with the bedtime routine will enjoy turning the tables in this gentle, interactive French import. A pink mouse encourages readers to assume the parental role by getting the book (depicted on the recto as a pair of eyes, a nose, and a mouth on a soothing blue background) ready to go to sleep (“Ask it, ‘Are you warm enough?’ Tell it, ‘Here’s your blankie.’”). The design is simple yet elegant—with plenty of white space on the verso and bold, primary colors throughout—and toddlers and their grown-ups will love seeing the sweetly expressive book fall asleep. A delightful addition to the bevy of bedtime tales.

REICH, Kass. Up Hamster, Down Hamster. illus. by Kass Reich. 24p. Orca. 2015. Tr $9.95. ISBN 9781459810136.

Toddler-PreS– A simple opposite book gets a comedic kick with the addition of a group of charming hamsters. Straightforward concepts like “up and down” are complemented by more complex pairings, such as “lost and found.” Each spread features cartoon-style drawings colored digitally in cheerful pastel hues. The facial expressions of each costume-wearing little rodent add humor.

ROCKWELL, Anne. At the Supermarket. illus. by Anne Rockwell. 30p. Holt/Christy Ottaviano Bks. 2015. Board. $7.99. ISBN 9781627793155.

Toddler-PreS–A trip to the grocery store is a highlight of many young children’s day. Here, a child narrator describes his favorite things, from the automatic doors to the endless aisles of products. This particular excursion is special because in addition to the standard items, the boy and his mom are buying supplies and treats for his birthday party the next day. Rockwell’s cheery paintings and child-focused text make this a delightful selection to share all year round.

ROSENTHAL, Amy Krouse. Plant a Kiss. illus. by Peter H. Reynolds. 36p. HarperCollins. 2015. Tr $7.99. ISBN 9780062416520.

PreS-Gr 2 –When a girl (Little Miss) plants a kiss, it is treated like any other seedling in a gardener’s patch. She patiently tends it, with plenty of TLC, and when at last it sprouts, she decides to share the harvest with the world. The format is ideal for this spare, rhyming picture book text with Reynolds’s sweetly expressive cartoon art. While the storytelling is a bit abstract, children who are old enough to appreciate the fanciful premise (and a bit of glitter) will embrace the loving message.

SCHORIES, Pat. Jack Wants a Snack. illus. by Pat Schories. 32p. Boyds Mills. 2015. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781629794068.

Toddler-PreS –A little girl and her dolls are having a tea party in the backyard, and Jack, the pup, wants desperately to be invited. After all, there are popcorn snacks to be had, and he is intent on tasting some. When the child has had enough of his begging, she shoos him away and the teacups and treats fall prey to a pesky chipmunk. Jack and his girl give chase and attempt to catch the little thief red-handed, with hilarious results. Sweet, old-fashioned watercolors clearly convey the action and add enormous charm to this simple wordless board book. A marvelous example of visual storytelling.

Snuggle Up with Mother Goose. edited by Opie Iona. illus. by Rosemary Wells. 26p. Candlewick. 2015. Board $8.99. ISBN 9780763678678.

Baby-Toddler –A satisfying collection of Mother Goose rhymes, illustrated with Wells’s warm and fuzzy cats, bunnies, and mice. Familiar verses include “Hush-a-bye baby,” “Diddle, diddle, dumpling,” “Wee Willie Winkie,” “Twinkle, twinkle, little star,” along with a few slightly lesser-known selections, such as “Bluebells, cockleshells,” “Wash the dishes, Wipe the dishes,” and “Cross-patch, draw the latch.” Sweet confections for bedtime, naptime, or anytime sharing.

SNYDER , Betsy. I Can Dance. ISBN 9781452129297.
—–. I Can Play. ISBN 9781452129051.

ea vol: illus. by Betsy Snyder. 13p. Chronicle. 2015. Board $8.99.

Baby-Toddler– Get those fingers moving! Little ones can slip their fingers into the die-cut holes at the bottom of these activity-oriented volumes to make a diverse group of boys and girls dribble basketballs, break dance, tumble and flip, and boogie down (a spread featuring a disco suit–clad little boy striking a Saturday Night Fever–esque pose will have adults chuckling, too). Pleasant rhyme and bright, thick-lined, childlike mixed-media illustrations emphasize the fun of being active, no matter what pursuits kids choose.

THOMPSON, Carol. Rain. ISBN 9781846436833.
—–. Snow. ISBN 9781846436819.
—–. Sun. ISBN 9781846436802.
—–. Wind. ISBN 9781846436826.
ea vol: illus. by Carol Thompson. 10p. (Whatever the Weather!). Child’s Play. 2015. Board $4.99.

Baby-Toddler –A diverse group of adorable toddlers steal the show in these beautifully illustrated board books celebrating seasonal weather. Simple, lyrical text narrates the action (“The sun comes up./Hello sun!”) while round-headed tots stretch and toddle, “splish, splosh, sploosh” in a rain puddle, frolic in the breeze, and create “snow monsters.” Mixed-media collage art captures the joy and wonder of each season, as depicted in the facial expressions and body language of each child enjoying the sensations of sight, sound, touch, and smells of the world around them. Must-haves for baby and toddler storytimes and one-on-one sharing.

TRasler, Janee. Mimi and Bear in the Snow. illus. by Janee Trasler. 14p. Farrar. 2015. Board $7.99. ISBN 9780374300937.

Toddler-PreS–Mimi and her stuffed bear are inseparable. They head out on a wintry day, and Bear keeps his girl company as she ice-skates, tries on fancy hats for tea, and builds a scary snow beast. However, when it is time to go inside, Bear is nowhere to be found. After a sad night, she heads back outside to see that the ice has melted, the fancy hats are gone, and so is the beast. All that remains from the previous day’s play is Bear in a puddle. The happy reunion of Mimi and her beloved toy will be a hit with toddlers everywhere.

TUDOR, Tasha. 1 is One. illus. by Tasha Tudor. 44p. S. & S./Little Simon. 2015. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781481425674.

Toddler-PreS –This sweet, old-fashioned counting book introduces the numbers from one to 20 in a lilting, rhyming text and Tudor’s signature naturalistic paintings. They feature birds’ nests, flower chains, apple trees, and barefoot children of another era, all of which perfectly match the verses: “11 is eleven girls/dancing in a ring./12 is twelve baby birds/learning how to sing.” The lovely detailed artwork alternates between black-and-white and full-color spreads.

WALSH, Ellen. Balancing Act. illus. by Ellen Stoll. 32p. S. & S./Little Simon. 2015. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781481420518.

Toddler-PreS –A pair of mice having fun on a makeshift seesaw (sticks balanced on a stone) are joined by several other animals—a salamander, a frog, and more—throwing off their game. The cut-paper collage animals are charmingly childlike, and the acrylic splatter adds texture. Walsh makes adroit use of the gutter, placing the fulcrum of the seesaw in the center of the page and depicting the animals changing positions as the teeter-totter precariously rises and lowers.

WENINGER, Brigitte. Time for Bed, Nori. illus. by Yusuke Yonezu. 12p. Minedition. 2015. Board $9.99. ISBN 9789888240418.

Toddler-PreS –A sweet bedtime tale. This work’s title character charmingly models bedtime rituals so that even the most reluctant of sleepyheads won’t be able to resist following suit. Readers are introduced to a yawning kitten, Nori, in the first spread, which invites kids to pull down a flap to reveal the feline’s smart red pajamas. Cleaning up, brushing teeth, and going to the potty are just some of the activities that must be completed before bedtime. The textured illustrations in bright, candy-colored hues and the warm, sweet ending will help lead little ones on to Dream Land with a smile.

YONEZU, Yusuke. Triangles. illus. by Yusuke Yonezu. 26p. Minedition. 2015. Board $9.99. ISBN 9789888240692.

Toddler-PreS– Yonezu makes artful use of die-cuts in this inspired ode to the triangle. Alternating pages feature a die-cut shape (different sizes and types are included throughout), and readers are asked to speculate, “What could this triangle be?” Youngsters will be happily surprised at the different options: a flag, a mouse’s face, and a crown are among the responses. The design is simple, with copious white space and large, thick-lined triangles: ideal for preschoolers just becoming familiar with shapes.

This roundup, selected and annotated by the SLJ Reviews editors, features a diverse array of 2015 titles published in a board book format. Our previous roundup appeared in the July 2015 issue

This article was published in School Library Journal's January 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.