The SLJ Reviews team took a look at this season’s crop of board books and decided which ones to highlight. They run the gamut in terms of content, themes, and style so we’ve arranged them topically to aid in your collection development decisions.
Edible Colors by Jennifer Vogel Bass, photos by author
Roaring Brook. $7.99. ISBN 9781626722842
My World, My Words by Marie Fordacq, illus. by Peggy Nille
Twirl Bks. $12.99. ISBN 9791027601387
The Hueys in It Wasn’t Me ISBN 9780399173929
The Hueys in None the Number: A Counting Adventure ISBN 9780399174162
The Hueys in What’s the Opposite? ISBN 9780399175619
Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, Philomel. $6.99.
Toddler-PreS–A veritable farmer’s market of fruits and vegetables highlight the brilliant shades and splendid array of produce available today. Stunning color photos against white backgrounds provide a look at both the familiar and the exotic, from green apples and red raspberries to blue potatoes and purple corn. A decidedly delectable concept book.
My World, My Words
Baby-Toddler–Incorporating the vocabulary of everyday objects, foods, and familiar actions and emotions, this title follows a small mouse named Bobby through his daily routines and activities. Affectionate parents and playful friends inhabit the little one’s life as they feed him, bathe him, soothe his tears, and join in on some indoor and outdoor fun. Colorful cloth page tabs add a tactile experience.
The Hueys (series)
PreS–The Hueys, simple in design but full of expressions and movement, use dry humor to explain abstract concepts to preschoolers. None the Number: A Counting Adventure is an offbeat way to address numbers one through 10 by way of explaining the concept of “zero” to budding learners. What’s the Opposite? explores common opposites such as high/low, big/small, as well as more complex concepts like heavy/light and forward/back. It Wasn’t Me offers a new approach to solving disputes. When the Hueys get into an arguments, a bystander aims to dissolve the angry discussion with a simple question and a smart diversion. Three quirky and contemporary additions to introduce new ideas to the preschool set.
My Animals by Xavier Deneux, illus. by author
Chronicle. $10.99. ISBN 9791027601370
RRRalph by Lois Ehlert, illus. by author
Little Simon. $7.99. ISBN 9781442435216
Chu’s Day at the Beach by Neil Gaiman, illus. by Adam Rex
HarperFestival. $7.99. ISBN 9780062381248
I Am Otter by Sam Garton, illus. by author
HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. $7.99. ISBN 9780062409089
Elephants Spray ISBN 9781681520681
Giraffes Stretch ISBN 9781681520698
Lions Roar ISBN 9781681520711
Written and illustrated by Rebecca Glaser
En el bosque ISBN 9786077835523
En el mar ISBN 9786077835530
En el zoo ISBN 9786077835554
En mi cuarto ISBN 9786077835547
by Anabel Jurado, illus. by Laura Arias
Wild Backyard by Kate Riggs, illus. by Fiammetta Dogi
Creative Editions. $7.99. ISBN 9781568462875
Baby-Toddler–Black-and-white artwork featuring splashes of color and bold line drawings present babies and toddlers with a first look at domestic and wild animals. The book’s chunky size is perfect for small hands, and its peek-a-book element (a dog’s spot becomes a penguin’s wing, a dot on a sheep becomes a panda’s belly button) offers a satisfying tactile experience.
PreS–A narrator asks Ralph, a talking dog, a series of questions about his environment (“How’s the path feel on your paws, Ralph?”), with clever results (“ROUGH ROUGH”). Large, simple text set against a solid color background will keep readers focused while the collage-style illustrations help support the energy of the dog-related onomatopoeia. This bright and animated selection begs to be read aloud.
Chu’s Day at the Beach
Toddler-PreS–Those familiar with Gaiman and Rex’s adorable little panda will be eager to see what happens this time when Chu sneezes. Chu, on a trip to the beach, manages to mess up the entire ocean with his latest sneeze. Saturated with color, the rich paintings of anthropomorphic dogs, monkeys, octopuses, pigs, and elephants sunning, splashing, and enjoying their day have a wry, almost ironic feel, while the spare text is perfect for the intended audience.
I Am Otter
Toddler-PreS–In this board book edition of Otter’s first outing, the mischievous creature attempts to amuse herself while her owner is away at work by opening up a restaurant that sells only toast. Things go predictably—and hilariously—awry in short order. Though the soft, rounded illustrations have a soothing, old-fashioned feel, they’re brimming with quirky details, and Garton perfectly captures a child-centric perspective with his witty text. A charmer.
Baby-Toddler–Crisp and winsome nature photography takes center stage in these cleanly designed nonfiction titles for the littlest animal fans. Paired with one or two very short sentences (“Up, up, up! Giraffes are tall.”), each spread offers plenty of opportunities for young children to enjoy the photographs and ask questions. Action verbs and onomatopoeic words encourage participation and make these ideal for a baby or toddler storytime.
En el bosque
En el mar
En el zoo
En mi cuarto
Toddler-PreS–Sweet animals with fuzzy tummies populate this series, just asking to be touched and felt. En el bosque features forest animals, En el mar is filled with sea creatures, En el zoo treats kids to zoo denizens, and En mi cuarto presents animals that children can have as pets. The simple rhymes are inviting and can easily be sung as part of a lapsit or one-on-one reading.
Toddler-PreS–Each spread in this eye-catching title introduces a common backyard animal in its natural environment. Young children can spot and observe the behavior of a robin, a bee, a toad, a rabbit, a squirrel, and a mole. The boldly colored scenes are close focus and larger than life. This vivid little field guide will encourage viewers to take a walk on the wild side, no matter where they live.
Everyone Is Yawning by Anita Bijsterbosch, illus. by author
Clavis. $14.95. ISBN 9781605372273
Sleepyheads by Sandra Howatt, illus. by Joyce Wan
Little Simon. $7.99. ISBN 9781481461429
Tickle My Ears by Jörg Mühle, illus. by author
Gecko. $9.99. ISBN 9781776570768
Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illus. by Jen Corace
Chronicle. $7.99. ISBN 9781452152073
Night Owl by Toni Yuly, illus. by author
Feiwel & Friends. $7.99. ISBN 9781250072917
Everyone Is Yawning
Toddler-PreS–This book may elicit some big, small, and even quiet yawns. Nine animals’ yawns are revealed by flipping card stock paper flaps to expose their teeth. At the end, a child yawns and shortly all of the characters are fast asleep. The art is colorful and engaging, and the simple text has a defined focus. A quick story and exercise, perfect for nap or bedtime reading.
Baby-Toddler–The arrival of the moon begins this tender and lovingly illustrated journey toward bedtime. Readers follow along as all the animals in the land nestle, curl up, and settle down to sleep. An empty child’s bed prompts the question, “Where’s the sleepyhead?” The answer is, in Mama’s arms. The soft, rounded creatures and the muted palette are sure to lull wide-awake children right to bed.
Tickle My Ears
Toddler-PreS–It’s time for Little Rabbit to go to bed, and readers can help him get ready. Children are encouraged to tap on Little Rabbit’s shoulder, fluff his pillow, and tickle his ears. With each page turn, their actions are rewarded. This short book has a slow and sleepy pace, aided by the softly muted colors and the instructions to gently stroke Little Rabbit’s back and tuck him in tightly. Many parents are likely to get requests from drowsy listeners to do the same.
Toddler-PreS–Little Hoot is a good little owlet who tries to follow his parents’ teachings and example, but he draws the line at staying up late to play. He just wants to go to bed early like the rest of his forest friends. Rosenthal’s clever wording and plays on the “Rules of the Roost” are great fun, and Corace’s endearing, simple illustrations are sure to please. A wise one-on-one choice for determined night owls and sleepyheads alike.
Toddler-PreS–Little Owl hears various sounds—tapping, chirping, the howl of a train whistle—in the night, but none of them belong to Mommy Owl. Where can she be? Thick black lines and simple shapes will appeal to little ones, and the use of color is effective, with deep purple backgrounds that slowly darken as dusk turns to night. Yuly demonstrates a strong understanding of a child’s mind-set, adding soothing elements and a stalwart protagonist who doesn’t succumb to fear. A delightful bedtime story and a great way to help kids learn to identify sounds.
All in the Family
I Love You More and More by Nicky Benson, illus. by Jonny Lambert
Tiger Tales. $9.99. ISBN 9781589252271
Baby Says…NO! by Alisa Coburn, illus. by author
Hardie Grant Egmont/Chirpy Bird. $9.99. ISBN 9781760121556
Kiss Baby’s Boo-Boo by Karen Katz, illus. by author
Little Simon. $6.99. ISBN 9781481442084
The Mommy Book by Todd Parr, illus. by author
Little, Brown. $6.99. ISBN 9780316337748
I Love You More and More
Baby-Toddler–This gentle story follows a bear and its cub through various landscapes while they share sentimental moments. Several animals and their young are shown in loving and tranquil settings throughout. The text has a thoughtful message that will be treasured by caregivers and their little ones, and the mixed-media artwork creates a joyful and soothing experience.
Baby-Toddler–How many times can a toddler say “No!” in the course of a day? This persnickety little one expresses his definitive opinions on what to play with, wear, and eat and how and when to interact with his family members. The engaging sepia and ink drawings are expressive and adorable. Lest the book seem too one-note, the child’s repeated knee-jerk refrain is disrupted on the last page when he actually tries an ice-cream cone before passing judgment. His parting word, accompanied by a messy, smiling face, is “Yummy!”
Kiss Baby’s Boo-Boo
Toddler-PreS–What’s a little one to do in the face of scraped knees and pinched fingers? With simple text, Katz presents a bevy of injured babes, asking readers, “Who will kiss baby’s boo-boo?” Lifting each flap reveals a picture of a baby who’s all smiles now that a parent or pet has kissed away the “owie.” Bright illustrations in soothing pastel colors present close-up images of a diverse group of tots, while the repetitive text will make for fun reads and rereads.
The Mommy Book
PreS–A joyous exploration of the multifaceted individuals also known as moms, with a focus on what makes them different (hair, dress, work) and the same (“All mommies like to hang out with you!”). The electric colors and stick figure creations help keep the tone celebratory and the appeal broad.
We Love To Sing Along! by Caroline Jayne Church, sel. illus. by selector
Scholastic/Cartwheel. $8.99. ISBN 9780545901376
Pete the Cat: Old MacDonald Had a Farm ISBN 9780062381606
Pete the Cat: Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star ISBN 9780062381613
Written and illustrated by James Dean
Sing by Joe Raposo, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld
Holt/Christy Ottaviano. $8.99. ISBN 9781627795029
We Love To Sing Along!
Toddler-PreS–In this pint-size songbook, four standard nursery tunes are introduced by a group of sweet-faced toddlers interacting with one another or their favorite stuffed lovies. Young children will enjoy this board book selection and will soon be singing along to “You Are My Sunshine,” “The More We Get Together,” “Rain, Rain, Go Away!” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
Pete the Cat (series)
PreS–Younger siblings of children who guard their books about the popular feline have occasion to rejoice: Pete is now available in a format that they can call their own. In these titles, the guitar-toting cat offers his particular rendition of two classic songs. Boldly colored, groovy artwork offers plenty to pore over.
Toddler-PreS–A fledgling/small bird that has trouble finding his voice is aided by a boy with a guitar and a simple song. This beloved tune with an empowering message, which will be familiar to Sesame Street viewers, is illustrated here with line-and-watercolor artwork that speaks volumes. Spanish lyrics are also included.
Things that Go
My Bike by Byron Barton, illus. by author
HarperCollins/Greenwillow. $7.99. ISBN 9780062337016
This Plane ISBN 9780374359874
This Train ISBN 9780374377199
Written and illustrated by Paul Collicutt
Cars Go by Steve Light, illus. by author
Chronicle. $9.99. ISBN 9781452150673
Steam Train, Dream Train 1-2-3 ISBN 9781452149141
Steam Train, Dream Train Colors ISBN 9781452149158
by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illus. by Tom Lichtenheld
I’m a Monster Truck by Dennis Shealy, illus. by Bob Staake
Random. $7.99. ISBN 9780553535860
Digger Man by Andrea Zimmerman & David Clemesha, illus. by authors
Holt/Christy Ottaviano. $7.99. ISBN 9781627794442
Toddler-PreS–Barton’s board book edition of an earlier picture book depicts Tom and his bike. Readers learn about parts of the bike as well as some of Tom’s traveling gear and route. Observant readers will consume the bright colors, simple illustration style, and text, while wondering where the man is going. Tom is not just a regular cyclist but a circus performer on his way to work. This engaging and vibrant read will be enjoyable for Barton’s fans and those looking for a board book with a twist.
PreS–Bold, lush illustrations of planes and trains in action expose readers to the many traits and functions of these mechanical wonders. The text moves from general observations (for instance, “This train is red”) to more technical but still age-appropriate ones (“This train runs on electricity”). The opening and closing spread of each title feature illustrations of the vehicles covered, with their full names and countries of origin.
Toddler-PreS–Transportation enthusiasts will delight in this companion to Diggers Go. This title looks at a range of vehicles, from a police car and an old jalopy to a taxi and pickup truck, as well as the sounds that they make. A horizontal format, vibrant watercolors, and infectious onomatopoeia will propel kids to strap on their seat belts and join the fun. Bbrrrmm!
Steam Train, Dream Train 1-2-3
Steam Train, Dream Train Colors
Toddler-PreS–Rhyming couplets and various types of train cars are used to explore different colors or numbers while readers get ready for bed. Each title begins with the engine and ends with the caboose. The illustrations, rendered in oil pastels, depict a menagerie of creatures all goofing about in their respective train cars. Readers will receive a well-rounded experience from each title as the text and illustrations work together in total harmony.
I’m a Monster Truck
PreS-K–Mudenstein is a big, tough monster truck made to smash, bash, and crash. His tall tires grab the dirt so he can take tight turns and extreme twists. When he isn’t racing, demolition is his favorite pastime. He loves to “crunch cars under his big wheels!” But not to worry, it’s all part of the show. All of the vehicles take one last lap for the crowd. The mechanical mayhem is complemented by the bold digital graphic-style art. The motion and menace of the personified machines are clearly in evidence, but the book does not take itself too seriously. Monstrous fun!
Toddler-PreS–The young protagonist of this book is not only an excavating fanatic, he is also a terrific big brother, always ready to share his enthusiasm for building equipment with his baby brother. Whether he’s scooping up rocks, pushing mud, or making a park and a playground, the child is at the ready to don his hard hat and boots and get to work. Digger and dumper fans everywhere will relate to the rollicking text and boldly colored acrylic artwork.
Other Great titles
Burbuja maruja. ISBN 9786077835622
El hada del fuego. ISBN 9786077835646
Morena de la tierra. ISBN 9786077835639
By Verónica Halac, illus. by Silvina Amoroso
Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld, illus. by author.
Holt. $7.99. ISBN 9781627795012.
Thank You! by Ethan Long, illus. by author
Abrams Appleseed. $7.95. ISBN 9781419713644.
Hungry Henry by Marla Osborn, illus. by author
Blue Manatee. $7.99. ISBN 9781936669479.
Go, Go, Grapes!: A Fruit Chant by April Pulley Sayre, illus. by author.
Little Simon. $7.99. ISBN 9781481453011.
Clive and his Art. ISBN 9781846438837.
Clive and his Babies. ISBN 9781846438820.
Clive and his Bags. ISBN 9781846438844.
Clive and his Hats. ISBN 9781846438851.
By Jessica Spanyol, illus. by author
Child’s Play. $4.99.
Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard, illus. by author.
Scholastic. $6.99. ISBN 9780545871822.
Once I Heard a Little Wombat by Renée Tremel illus. by author
Random. $12.99. ISBN 9780857987396.
Who is Smiling by Yonezu, Yusuke. illus. by author.
Minedition. $11.99. ISBN 9789888341030.
El hada del fuego
Morena de la tierra
PreS–This collection of colorful Spanish-language board books follow the adventures of four fairies who each represent the four elements that were once believed to be the building blocks of the universe: air, earth, fire, and water. The rhyming narratives invite small children to embrace Mother Nature while also presenting a moral. Burbuja Maruja, the water fairy, conquers her fears; El hada del fuego (fire fairy) learns to control her temper; and Morena de la tierra (earth fairy) epitomizes the value of hard work. The bright, computer-generated images and glittery covers will entice readers.
Toddler-PreS–The board format of this story continues to deliver the same sweet message of a little cloud who wants to make a difference. Affectionate narration drives home the point that size does not hinder capabilities and impact. Lichtenheld’s lightly bolded text, and cartoon landscapes are translated perfectly. Tots will enjoy what is sure to become a lapsit favorite.
Toddler-PreS–What do you say when you get something special? Long explores a series of gift-giving scenarios and the appropriate responses in this charming book about kindness, generosity, good manners, and animal sounds. On each spread, one digital cartoon animal breaks out of its frame to offer another an appealing object or treat (a ball, a flower, a bamboo sprig, a piece of cheese). The happy recipients respond (“Bark, bark!,” “Hum hum!” “Growl growl!,” “Eek eek!” ). The book ends with a woman serving a boy some lunch. His response causes her to say “You’re welcome!” Sweet, simple, and oh-so-satisfying.
PreS–Sleeping Henry dreams of a world filled with healthy breakfast foods in the shape of friendly animals (e.g., a turtle with a waffle for a shell and apple slices for legs and a head). The integration of nutritious meal ideas into the story is an easy way to introduce young children and parents to the concept of healthy eating as not only important but an experience rife with creative potential.
Go, Go, Grapes!: A Fruit Chant
Toddler-PreS–A lively pictorial tour of a well-stocked fruit market, punctuated with catchy rhymes. Sharp, full-color images of the produce—familiar favorites and more unusual fare—all look appealing and ready to be plucked up and sampled. A great little lesson in vocabulary-building which may even expand the flavor profiles of youngsters. Who could resist joining in the cheer: “Rah, rah, raspberries! Go, go grapes!”?
Clive and his Art
Clive and his Babies
Clive and his Bags
Clive and his Hats
Toddler-PreS–Pastel, slightly stylized artwork illustrates the day-to-day experiences of a preschooler who enjoys art projects and playing with dolls, and owns an assortment of hats and bags, each suggesting an adventure of a different sort. While the books offer statements, rather than stories about the boy’s activities, children will come to know Clive, his two friends, Jeffrey and Asif, and Moshi Cat, who make an appearance in each volume.
PreS–When Bird wakes up on the wrong side of the nest one morning, he’s in a funk—but not for long. His pals are soon on hand to cheer him up. Thick-lined illustrations with strikingly vibrant backgrounds convey Bird’s changing moods, as do his hilariously exaggerated facial expressions, and the narrative, filled with repetition, will please little ones and their adults, who will be all too familiar with the subject matter.
Once I Heard a Little Wombat
Toddler-PreS–In a market crowded with rhyming animal stories, this Australian import stands out for its lovely illustrations and gentle nursery rhyme based upon the classic “Once I Saw a Little Bird.” Each Australian animal is introduced with a few clues about their traits and quickly dismissed. Though U.S. children are likely to ask about the “billy,” “devil,” and “puggle,” it presents an opportunity to seek out further information about these delightful creatures who live on the other side of our planet.
Who is Smiling
Toddler-PreS–Minimalist naïve style illustrations on bright white or primary color backgrounds—reminiscent of Todd Parr’s work—depict simple shapes that turn into various animal faces with each page turn, aided by cleverly positioned die-cuts. A left-hand page that asks “Who could this be?” features three small black dots. When the right-hand page with a half-circle die-cut is turned, the following spread reveals a cat. Children will enjoy guessing what each new page turn may bring—and they’re likely to be surprised by quite a few of them.