Board Books Make Us Happy| Editors' Picks

SLJ review editors select four dozen of the season's most colorful and entertaining board books in this special roundup.

Attiogbe, Magali. Rabbit. illus. by Magali Attiogbe. ISBN 9781682973318.

Cosneau, Olivia. Bird. illus. by Olivia Cosneau. ISBN 9781682973301.

ea vol: 18p. (Tales from Nature). Quarto/QEB. Mar. 2018. Board $8.95.

Toddler-PreS –These two gentle titles give youngsters a window into the natural world. Though the text is spare, a few facts are sprinkled in. Each animal briefly offers an upbeat description of itself before finding a mate and producing offspring. Softly rounded pastel illustrations make lovely use of texture. A bit of sly humor sneaks in—with a page turn, the die-cut holes of the flowers in one image transform into the rabbit’s waste; leaping through a field, the bunny gleefully proclaims, “My droppings are round.” Enticing rudimentary introductions to nonfiction texts.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Boynton, Sandra. Happy Birthday, Little Pookie. ISBN 9781481497701.

––––. Let’s Dance, Little Pookie. ISBN 9781481497725.

––––. Little Pookie. ISBN 9781481497688.

––––. Night-Night, Little Pookie. ISBN 9781481497718.

––––. What’s Wrong, Little Pookie? ISBN 9781481497695.

ea vol: illus. by Sandra Boynton. 18p. (Little Pookie). S. & S./Little Simon. Aug. 2017. Board $5.99.

Baby-Toddler– Boynton’s ode to the parent/child bond is utterly sweet but never saccharine. Whether Little Pookie, an overall-clad anthropomorphic piglet, is fretting, dancing, or getting ready for bed, his mother is right by his side to put things right or share in his joy. Narrated by Mommy, the energetic rhyming text is reassuring, with a dash of whimsy. Marked by lively linework, endearingly expressive characters, and an appealing solidity, the art is sure to entice. Must-have additions to any board book collection.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Campbell, Scott. Hug Machine. illus. by Scott Campbell. 36p. S. & S./Little Simon. Dec. 2017. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781534400269.

PreS-K –Campbell’s enthusiastic hugger makes for a splendid board book adaptation. The young child embraces a number of people, animals, and objects, proudly describing the wonders that his hugs can perform. The rosy palette and watercolor art lend the work a warm, intimate feeling, which is pleasantly offset by some goofier moments. The expression of pure bliss on the protagonist’s face is infectious—it’s not hard to imagine little ones giving their best hugs after reading.–Della Farrell, School Library Journal

Capucilli, Alyssa Satin. Hush a Bye, Baby. illus. by Shahrzad Maydani. 14p. S. & S./Little Simon. Dec. 2017. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781534401396.

Baby-Toddler –“Hush a bye, my baby/Here’s a song just for you.” In this lullaby, fathers ready their little ones for bed. Muted colors and dreamy background images set a soothing tone. All the characters are apple-cheeked (yes, including some sleepily buzzing bees and a slumbering owl), lending the work a childlike flavor.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Charlip, Remy. Fortunately. illus. by Remy Charlip. 44p. S. & S./Little Simon. Sept. 2017. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781534400870.

PreS-Gr 2 –In Charlip’s delightful classic story, each positive note in Ned’s event-filled morning is countered with an unfortunate, nearly disastrous moment. Fortunately for the boy, the day ends on an upbeat event—his birthday party. Colorful spreads depict the surprises, gray tones the avoided mishaps/lucky misses.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

Cocoretto. City. ISBN 9781786280817.

––––. Construction. ISBN 9781786280831.

––––. Emergency. ISBN 9781786280800.

––––. Farm. ISBN 9781786280824.

ea vol: illus. by Cocoretto. 12p. (Wheels at Work). Child’s Play. Dec. 2017. Board $7.99.

Toddler-PreS –Each spread in these cheery series titles, featuring assorted vehicles, begins with let’s followed by a verb: let’s plant, mix, fetch, collect, and so on. Upon opening the page-size foldouts, young listeners will learn just where the trucks are off to—from collecting the recycling to fighting fires.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

Colandro, Lucille. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Chick! illus. by Jared D. Lee. 32p. Scholastic. Dec. 2017. Board $6.99. ISBN 9781338210385.

PreS –“There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Chick! …But she didn’t get sick!” So begins this cumulative rhyme based on the classic children’s song. In this jaunty version, the chick is followed by straw, an egg, candy, a basket, and a bow…and a meeting with the Easter Bunny.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

Cousins, Lucy. Count with Little Fish. ISBN 9781536200249.

––––. Where Is Little Fish? ISBN 9780763694869.

ea vol: illus. by Lucy Cousins. 16p. (A Little Fish Book). Candlewick. Mar. 2018. Board $7.99.

PreS –Schools of friendly fish lead the way in introductions to a host of concepts, adjectives, and the vivid palette of a premier children’s book artist. Children will delight in these titles that vibrate with bold, brilliant colors and a bit of sparkle and ring with wordsmith appreciation of language.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

Holub, Joan. This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer. illus. by Daniel Roode. 26p. S. & S./Little Simon. Sept. 2017. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781534401068.

Toddler-PreS –Ten wide-eyed women trailblazers, from Ada Lovelace to Maria Tallchief, are presented in brightly colored spreads. In larger print, a rhyming couplet gives young readers a general idea of the road each subject paved, and on the opposite page, in smaller print, more information is disclosed. The final spread asks kids how they will change the world someday, while showcasing a dozen more inspirational figures. The bottom right corner of the last page has a circle with a question mark, offering children the opportunity to see themselves as future trailblazers. An empowering collective biography for board book bins and shelves.–Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal

Hutton, John. Fiona’s Feelings. 14p. photos. Blue Manatee. Jan. 2018. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781936669653.

Baby-Toddler –Readers will be hard-pressed to find a hippo as cute as Fiona, the titular star of this joyful, photo-illustrated board book. Fiona, a resident of the Cincinnati zoo, is a social media sensation for a reason: her vivid expressions communicate a range of simple and complex emotions, from happiness to “swimming proud.” An adorable selection for little ones who, like Fiona, are “growing bigger and stronger.”–Della Farrell, School Library Journal

Jaramillo, Susie. The Birthday Book/Las mañanitas. Bk. 4. ISBN 9781945635168.

––––. Little Chickies/Los pollitos. Bk. 1. ISBN 9781945635137.

––––. Little Elephants/Elefantitos. Bk. 2. ISBN 9781945635144.

––––. Little Mice/Ratoncitos. Bk. 3. ISBN 9781945635151.

ea vol: illus. by Susie Jaramillo. 16p. (Canticos). Encantos. Oct. 2017. Board $9.99. BL

Baby-Toddler –The enchanting bilingual nursery rhyme series gets a more circulation-friendly makeover. Each lift-the-flap volume presents a traditional Latin American song with bright images of charming animal characters and plenty of white space. As in the earlier, accordian-style editions, the English translations are accessible and elegantly done. The English text can be found on the verso in a bold black font, and the Spanish text is located on the recto, in gray. Interactive flaps and sing-along apps for each make these ideal for storytimes and one-on-one lapsits. The smaller trim size is just right for little hands. These candy-colored entries are even more inviting than the original versions.–Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal

Kawamura, Yayo. A Day with Pepe & Millie. ISBN 9780807564813.

––––. Play Hide-and-Seek with Pepe & Millie. ISBN 9780807564820.

ea vol: illus. by Yayo Kawamura. 16p. (Pepe & Millie). Albert Whitman. Aug. 2017. Board $9.99.

Toddler-PreS –Tots will delight in reading about the day-to-day happenings of the cat and dog pair. From taking a bath to playing a time-honored game, Pepe (pup) and Millie (kitty) have sweet high jinks. The lift-the-flap and slide elements add an extra surprise for little ones during lapsits. These will encourage the youngest of readers to practice their fine motor skills and will perhaps elicit some chuckles. The vibrant, primary color–based hues set against lots of white space and green grass make the adventures pop.–Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal

Kövecses, Anna. Counting Things. illus. by Anna Kövecses. 16p. Wide Eyed Editions. Aug. 2017. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781786030368.

Baby-Toddler –An attractive primer from the creator of One Thousand Things, which is a great choice for encouraging dialogic reading and the development of fine motor skills in little ones. A small red mouse travels through different habitats, such as a jungle, a farm, and the sea. On the verso page, a question invites readers to count objects that can be found under the flap on the recto page. A sturdy and worthy addition to board book collections.–Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal

LOUCHARD, Anne. This Way–That Way. illus. by Anne Louchard. 10p. Minedition/Michael Neugebauer Bks. Sept. 2017. Board $9.99. ISBN 9789888341412.

Toddler-PreS– An oddball title that charms despite its slightly head-scratching resolution. It starts with a simple question (“How does a giraffe sleep?”) posed playfully on the front cover, along with a lift-the-flap revealing the amazing length of the creature’s neck. On each successive spread, Louchard asks readers to consider a variety of silly possibilities: “Does he curl into a spiral? Certainly NOT! He’d get dizzy.... Why not stretch out between two trees, like a hammock? That would be FUNNY!” The ink and watercolor images are understated, surrounded by crisp white space. No answer is given by the end. Instead, the author encourages young readers to think and imagine. Older kids and adults will want to do a quick Internet search to find the answer, but the toddler set are likely to simply revel in the silliness.–Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

Mrs. Peanuckle’s Fruit Alphabet. ISBN 9781623368722.

––––. Mrs. Peanuckle’s Vegetable Alphabet. ISBN 9781623368708.

ea vol: illus. by Jessie Ford. 28p. (Mrs. Peanuckle’s Alphabet Library). Rodale Kids. Sept. 2017. Board $7.99.

Baby-Toddler –“A is for Avocado. Bet you thought I’d say apple! Both are fruit because they grow on trees.” And so begins the mouth-watering abecedarian that highlights nature’s juicy and delectable Fruits. From asparagus to zucchini, the greens get the ABC treatment in the Vegetable entry. Both offerings feature smiling subjects rendered with paint, runny ink, colored pencil, and digital art. The humor mostly hits the mark, and the vivid illustrations just might convert picky eaters.–Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal

Naberhaus, Sarvinder. Lines. illus. by Melinda Beck. 30p. S. & S./Little Simon. Aug. 2017. Board $9.99. ISBN 9781481490740.

Toddler-PreS –A simple line becomes a square, squares, and a town, while another forms a circle, circles, and wheels. Together they become roads, towns, and a planet, as the view expands ever outward. Subtle and original.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

Ormerod, Jan. The Bike Ride: A Maudie & Bear Story. illus. by Freya Blackwood. 10p. Little Hare. Nov. 2017. Board $9.99. ISBN 9781760128982.

Toddler-PreS– This lovely British import about Maudie and Bear centers on the sweet pair’s afternoon adventure. The friends would like to go outside for some exercise, but first Maudie must find her sunglasses, their hats, her scarf, and the sunscreen and bug spray, as Bear patiently waits. Finally, they are ready. The kidlike logic and Ormerod’s spare text in combination with Blackwood’s painterly soft colors are a perfect match. A charming choice.–Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal

Ray, Mary Lyn. Stars. illus. by Marla Frazee. 36p. S. & S./Little Simon. Dec. 2017. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781534406629.

PreS –“A star is how you know it’s almost night.” So begins this lovely meditation on these entrancing celestial objects and how we mimic and use their shapes to make wishes, feel important, and remind ourselves to feel shiny, even when our spirits are low. Frazee also showcases the places in nature where stars can be found in different seasons of the year and how they have been gazed upon throughout the ages. The lyrical, engaging text and luminous images are perfect for one-on-one sharing at bedtime or in preparation for an evening stroll.–Luann Toth, School Library Journal

Schwartz, Amy. Things That Make Me Happy. illus. by Amy Schwartz. 24p. Abrams Appleseed. Oct. 2017. Board $7.95. ISBN 9781419723674.

Toddler-PreS –What makes toddlers happy? Seeing themselves and those they love engaged in fun activities in the pages of a book. A rhyming text and bright artwork round out the appealing package. Whether it’s “White snow/Cookie dough,” “Grandma’s lap/A gingersnap,” or “Brother and Sis/Good-night kiss,” this feel-good board book captures the high notes of a busy child’s day. Well worth celebrating.–Luann Toth, School Library Journal

Slash, Cinder. Heavy Metal Jam. illus. by Captain Kris. 20p. little bee. Jun. 2017. Board $8.99. ISBN 9781499804478.

PreS-Gr 1 –Bound to be a cult favorite among current and former metalheads, this board book is a unique take on music for young kids. Slash dials the energy to 11, beginning with, “Here’s my band and we’re ready to jam! Join us!” Then a motley crew of wild beasts, decked out in leather and spikes, introduce their instruments and describe what sounds they make. The electric palette, grungy figures, and bold details (flames, etc.) are all icing on the cake.–Della Farrell, School Library Journal

Stead, Philip C. A Sick Day for Amos McGee. illus. by Erin E. Stead. 34p. Roaring Brook. Jan. 2018. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781250171108.

PreS –The Caldecott Medal–winning tale about a gentle zookeeper, whose animal pals show him as much tender love and care during a sick day as he’s always shown them, makes its board book debut in this unabridged edition. Just as endearing and heartfelt as the original, the sturdy new format will introduce Amos and his chess-playing, bus-riding buddies to the littlest of pre-readers.–Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal

Strasser, Susanne. So Far Up. illus. by Susanne Strasser. 22p. Charlesbridge. Jan. 2018. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781580898485.

Toddler-PreS –This German import takes a simple premise and builds to a satisfying denouement. A “yummy” cake is left sitting high above on a windowsill, and along comes a hungry bear—if only Bear could reach. What follow are a gang of kindly determined animals who link together in the hopes of “taking the cake.” Strasser’s use of a single setting and muted colors outlined in black results in a cleanly designed and endearing story of collaboration.–Della Farrell, School Library Journal

Sullivan, Kyle. Hush Now, Banshee!: A Not-So-Quiet Counting Book. illus. by Derek Sullivan. 30p. Hazy Dell. Oct. 2017. Board $13.95. ISBN 9780996578752.

PreS –The subtitle says it all about this hilarious and energetic romp through numbers one to 10. A big-eyed, blue-skinned, and white-haired banshee stirs up trouble by shrieking, wailing, and howling a variety of greetings to her Irish countryside companions, which include dozing hobgoblins, cleaning bog monsters, and meditating druids. The artwork perfectly encapsulates the cartoonish antics and jolly spirit of the work. An inventive take on counting and the concept of quiet time for preschoolers—an easy pick for Halloween, too.–Della Farrell, School Library Journal

Urban, Chiêu Anh. Quiet as a Mouse: And Other Animal Idioms. illus. by Chiêu Anh Urban. 22p. Sterling. Jan. 2018. Board $7.95. ISBN 9781454925057.

Toddler-PreS –Urban explores animal-related idioms through a fun guessing game that pairs bouncy rhymes with close-ups of different faces. A whiskered, sharp-faced creature describes itself as “Quick and cheeky, smart and sneaky. I’m as sly as a….” A page turn reveals the answer: a fox. Vibrant images fill each page, accompanied by large text. Strategically placed die-cut holes and flashy, fun details (a red bandana for the ox, a pair of sunglasses for the bat) add to the charm.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Where’s the Hen? illus. by Ingela P. Arrhenius. 10p. Nosy Crow. Oct. 2017. Board $8.99. ISBN 9780763696405.

Toddler-PreS –Felt flaps conceal a pig, cow, sheep, and a hen in a series of colorful farmyard scenes that have viewers searching for animals. The final spread asks, “And where are you?” and depicts the four creatures facing a flap in the shape of a house behind which lies a mirror.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

Where’s the Owl? illus. by Ingela P. Arrhenius. 10p. Nosy Crow. Oct. 2017. Board $8.99. ISBN 9780763696399.

Baby-Toddler –This interactive offering asks children to find various forest dwellers. Pulling back felt trees, bushes, and mushrooms reveals a deer, a hedgehog, a fox, and an owl. Flat, pleasant artwork depicts brightly colored, cartoonish creatures set against spare landscapes full of geometric shapes. The book brims with cheer (there isn’t even a hint of menace when the fox eyes a smiling gray bunny) and ends with a fun twist: readers who yank back a bush on the final page are presented with a mirror as the text asks, “And where are you? There you are!”–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal

Wilson, Steve. Hedgehugs: Autumn Hide-and-Squeak. illus. by Lucy Tapper. 26p. Holt. Sept. 2017. Board $7.99. ISBN 9781250127907.

PreS –Friends Horace and Hattie, prickly in physical appearance only, are back again in a seasonal adventure. When trying to put falling leaves back on trees, the duo encounter a critter (looking very much like a bat, but purple) who plays hide-and-seek with them across a landscape filled with pumpkins, acorns, and the colors of fall.–Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

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