Get On Board: SLJ Selects A Bevy of Board Books

In light of increased attention on early childhood development, SLJ presents a selection of fun and engaging board books.

The production of board books has taken off in recent years with increased attention to early childhood development and multiple literacies. They come in all shapes and sizes and are perfect for one-on-one and small group sharing and dialogic reading. Some embrace a plethora of novelties, including flashing lights, sounds, and tactile elements while children learn to listen, point, swipe, and turn pages. Bells and whistles aside, durable, portable versions of picture-book classics are available, and many titles support and reinforce the introduction of concepts in the lives of busy babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Libraries can never have enough of these colorful little offerings. They might not have long shelf lives, but they are well-loved and well used. It’s doubtful that anyone has ever had to weed one for a lack of circulation. The selections below have been culled from the myriad board books that have arrived in our office over the recent months. They have been grouped into two main sections: concepts and stories. Sure to freshen up existing collections, these titles will add a bit of pizazz to your shelves.


AJMERA, Maya. Global Baby Boys. photos. (Global Fund for Children Bk.) Charlesbridge. Sept. 2014. Board $6.95. ISBN 9781580894401.

Babies love nothing more than looking at the faces of their peers. These cuties from around the world are not modeling clothing. They are supporting a sweet, empowering text that states these universal truths: “Boys are kind, curious, smart, and fun. Baby boys can grow up to do anything!”

Can You Say It Too?: Growl! Growl! ISBN 9780763673963. ––––.Can You Say It Too?: Roar! Roar! ISBN 9780763673970. ea vol: illus by. Sebastian Braun. (Can You Say It Too?). Nosy Crow. Aug. 2014. Board $8.99. Repeating wild animal sounds is just part of the fun in these big, bold selections. Children have to find them first. Each spread asks a leading question, “Who’s that behind the rock? the treetops? ...hanging on the branches?” A large fold-down flap reveals the creature and what it has to say. “It’s a hungry bear! Growl Growl! It’s a tall giraffe! Munch! Munch! It’s a playful monkey! Ohhh! Ohhh!” It goes without saying that despite the “growls” and “roars,” all of the animals are happy and friendly.

GEORGE, Bobby & June George. Map Work. illus. by Alyssa Nassner. (Montessori). Abrams Appleseed. Jul. 2014. Board $9.95. ISBN 9781419709340.

This ingeniously designed book follows the “Montessori way” of teaching children concrete concepts in an accessible way. With simple, repetitive sentence structures, children learn that our world is made of land and water. The land masses feature a slightly raised and fuzzy texture, differentiating them from the smooth texture of the surrounding water. Every continent is explored simply, with three animals chosen from each. A work that will inform the mind and engage the senses.

HOLUB, Joan. Be Patient, Pandora! ISBN 9781419709517. LC 2013041498. ––––.Play Nice, Hercules! ISBN 9781419709548. LC 2013042631. ea vol: illus by. Leslie Patricelli. (Mini Myths). Abrams Appleseed. Sept. 2014. Board $6.95. These adorable volumes feature the title characters learning important life lessons with slight allusions to their Greek mythology counterparts. Pandora’s curiosity gets the best of her as she struggles to not open a green gift box. Hercules can’t resist crashing the tower of blocks his little sister has constructed. Both titles end on a sweet note. A brief summary of the original stories conclude these pint-size tales.

HORÁCEK, Petr. Honk, Honk! Baa, Baa! Candlewick. Board $7.99. ISBN 9780763667801.

Bold, appealing collage artwork, animal sounds, and graduated board pages for easy turning make this a fun farmyard romp. A cow, cat, dog, pig, and donkey join the goose and the sheep for a raucous exploration of sights and sounds.

LIGHT, Steve. Planes Go. Chronicle. Aug. 2014. Board $9.99. ISBN 9781452128993.

A delightfully unusual trim size emphasizes the horizontal flight paths of various winged crafts including a seaplane, a helicopter, a jumbo jet, and a blimp. Light’s loose watercolors and energetic line emphasize the power of the machines, while onomatopoeic words will encourage young listeners to “pittatattata,” “wwwwwwwhhhiiiiirr,” and “ssssssssssssssssswwooooooossshhhhh” with gusto.

MACDONALD, Suse. Dino Shapes. illus. by Suse MacDonald. S. & S./Little Simon. Jul. 2014. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781481400930.

This clever graphic concept book was previously published as Shape by Shape. MacDonald begins with two round eyes (die-cut holes on a white page), and adds triangular teeth, a crescent mouth, oval head, and diamond-shaped scales, all of which come together to form a stunning trifold Brachiosaurus. Vibrant colors, solid concepts, and kid-friendly art are hallmarks of this award-winning artist’s craft.

My Book of Counting. ISBN 9781589255852. My Book of Opposites. ISBN 9781589255869. ea vol: illus by. Britta Teckentrup. (Explore. Discover. Learn.). Tiger Tales. Board $8.99.

Both books features adorable animals, ever-popular vehicles, and visual representations to reinforce the repeated numbers (“how many cheetahs can they see?) or opposites. Big/small, loud/quiet, tall/short, fast/slow, in/out, and more are depicted in words and fun-filled images. Fanciful typefaces and clearly delineated art are hallmarks of these appealing titles to help children explore, discover, and learn.

RIGGS, Kate. A Seed Needs Sun. illus. by Fiammetta Dogi. Creative Editions. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781568462547.

A simple, straightforward text is paired with lifesize naturalistic drawings to introduce young children to the life cycle of a plant, from seed to flowers. A single sentence per spread and cut-away view show how a plant develops above and below the ground’s surface.

ROCKWELL, Anne. Apples and Pumpkins. illus. by Lizzy Rockwell. (Classic Board Books). ebook available. S. & S./Little Simon. Jul. 2014. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781442499775.

This charming autumnal offering has long been a storytime staple in picture book form. The transition to board book is ideal: simple sentences, a clean typeface, and Rockwell’s appealing illustrations depict a family outing to pick apples and pumpkins, surrounded by the beauty of changing leaves and friendly farm animals.

SAYRE, April Pulley. Rah, Rah, Radishes!: A Vegetable Chant. (Classic Board Books ). ebook available. S. & S./Little Simon. Jul. 2014. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781442499270.

Veggies take center stage in this rollicking cheer for healthy food. Originally published as a picture book, this new edition is made for little hands. Bold, white font; crisp photos; and vibrant background colors make this work a fun entrée to learning about colors, shapes, textures, and food names.

SCARRY, Richard. Richard Scarry’s School Bus Box Set. illus. by Richard Scarry. Barron’s. Board $10.99. ISBN 9781438074832.

When it comes to preschool favorites, Richard Scarry needs no introduction. His trademark humor and kid-friendly cartoon illustrations have delighted generations of readers. Miss Honey is the bus driver of this set of four board books. The individual titles include All About Us, Huckle’s Good Manners, Huckle’s Opposites, and Let’s Count to Ten. This is one school bus you don’t want to miss!

YONEZU, Yusuke. Guess What? Food. ISBN 9789888240623.

––––. Guess What? Fruit. ISBN 9789888240616.

illus. by Yusuke Yonezu. (Yonezu Board Books Series). Minedition. 2014. Board $9.99.

Featuring simple illustrations with bold, saturated colors outlined in thick black lines, these winsome volumes invite toddlers to lift the flap to reveal that the attractive-looking foods on display are in fact animals. Surprise! A banana turns out to be a duck’s bill, while a piece of cheese transforms into a giraffe. Fun and creative.


BEATON, Clare. Clare Beaton’s Garden Rhymes. illus. by Clare Beaton. Barefoot Bks. Board $6.99. ISBN 9781782850816.

Beaton’s fabric illustrations offer a cozy, child-friendly complement to the clever nursery-style rhymes. Rich vocabulary (“Deep in the savannah/Where the warm winds blow”) and singsong text (“Three little monkeys/Sitting in a tree,/Eating a banana/Just like me!") make this a good choice for storytime or one-on-one sharing.

CUYLER, Margery. The Little Dump Truck. illus. by Bob Kolar. Holt. Board $7.99. ISBN 9780805099904.

Transportation aficionados will delight in this brightly colored tale of Hard Hat Pete and his little dump truck. It hauls stones, dumps loads, and carts trash all around the town. The lyrical text begs to be read aloud and the construction vehicles’ expressions will invite laughter and cheer.

HUNECK, Stephen. Sally in the Forest. ISBN 9781419712265.

––––. Sally in the Snow. ISBN 9781419712272. ea vol: illus by. Stephen Huneck. (Sally). Abrams Appleseed. Oct. 2014. Board $7.95.

In Forest, Sally uses her nose to sniff out new friends and explore her surroundings. The dog and her canine friends head to the ski lodge in Snow to ski and slide. The pup always finds a way to put a unique spin on the activities. Adapted from the author’s picture books, Sally’s adventures are captured with the same whimsy and humor for the board book set.

MCPHAIL, David. Peter Loves Penguin. illus. by David McPhail. (David McPhail’s Love Series). Abrams Appleseed. Oct. 2014. Board $8.95. ISBN 9781419713378.

From the author of Ben Loves Bear and Bella Loves Bunny comes another adorable child-animal pairing. Peter and his companion, Penguin, enjoy a snowy winter’s day playing outside, followed by an evening curled up on the sofa together. Gentle, soft-hued watercolor illustrations and sparse but sweet text contribute to this tender tale of friendship.

OPAL, Paola. Emma. illus. by Paola Opal. (Simply Small Series). Simply Read Bks. Board $7.95. ISBN 9781897476932.

Emma the hedgehog and her sisters face a challenge that young children—and their parents—will appreciate: a long and tiring walk home that threatens to discourage. Simple, thick-lined illustrations featuring muted greens, browns, and pinks depict the young hedgehog as she picks flowers to lift her siblings’ flagging spirits. A charming tale that also packs bite-size lessons on counting and perseverance.

PAUL, Ann Whitford. If Animals Kissed Good Night. illus. by David Walker. Farrar. Board $7.99. ISBN 9780374300210.

A board-book version of a popular picture book. Paul takes a whimiscal look at the animal kingdom and imagines how the creatures kiss their babies. Starting with a sloth and her cub, the pairings include a peacock and chick, a walrus and his calf, a bear and her cub, and a wolf and his pup. Walker’s soft-focus pastels set just the right tone for this warm and fuzzy bedtime favorite.

SLEGERS, Liesbet. Summer Beach Day. tr. from Dutch. illus. by Liesbet Slegers. (Day to Day Board Books). Clavis. Board $5.95. ISBN 9781605371665.

With thick acrylics and bold black lines, reminiscent of Leslie Patricelli’s artwork, readers meet a young boy who tells them about his day at the beach. Each left-hand page features key objects or items and one or two simple sentences (“This is my sun hat and these are my swimming trunks.”), while each right-hand page shows the boy engaged in beach activities with those items.

THOMAS, Jan. A Birthday for Cow! illus. by Jan Thomas. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Board $7.99. ISBN 9780544174245.

The silly and exuberant tale of friendship, dessert, and root vegetables is adapted for tiny readers in this new edition. Pig and Mouse are celebrating their friend’s birthday by baking a cake; however, Duck believes that they’re missing a key ingredient: a turnip! Will Cow enjoy the final result? Prepare for incessant giggles at the tale’s final twist.

WHEELER, Lisa. Farmer Dale’s Red Pickup Truck. illus. by Ivan Bates. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Board $7.99. ISBN 9780544247659.

Farmer Dale is on the way to the town talent show when first Bossy Cow, then Wooly Sheep, and a whole crew of farm animals join him in his sputtering red pickup truck. When the vehicle begins to stall, the group hustle as a team to make it to the final destination. Bright hues, a hilarious refrain, and the rhythmic text make this a title to instantly pick up.

ZABINI, Eleni. The Best Daddy in the World. tr. from German. illus. by Susanne Lütje. NorthSouth Books. 2014. Board $7.95. ISBN 9780735841628.

Sweet scenes featuring baby animals and their respective fathers are depicted in vivid detail in each spread of this charming board book. Bear cooks a scrumptious meal for his son; Lion throws his cub in the air and catches him; and Penguin reads a board book to his child. Every heartwarming page proves that each daddy is the best to his little one.

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