Best Board Books for Kids – A Roundup

Serious Fun: Board Books With a Lot of Love
A Best Board Books Roundup
Selected by Children’s Bookseller Hilary Taber

 

As a bookseller I think that board books may be one of the most overlooked categories of books. Yet these books are a child’s first exposure to books and to art. So, I want to take some time to give some love to some favorite board books already out for your little ones that I’m really excited about!

 

Baby Tiger: Finger Puppet Book book cover of baby tiger finger puppet book
Illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang
(Chronicle Books; $6.99, Ages 0-3)

This combination board book and finger puppet is only one in a series of adorable animal stories. Short, sweet and sure to please a baby to two-year-old in your life. Follow Baby Tiger through a complete day from morning until night. Be sure to be on the look out for the Baby Reindeer version for a wonderfully sweet Christmas gift! Huang’s illustrations are winsome and welcoming with their gentle expression. These little books are a perfect addition to a little one’s first library.

 

 

Book cover of sleepyheadsSleepyheads
Written by Sandra J. Howatt
Illustrated by Joyce Wan
(Simon & Schuster/Little Simon; $7.99, Ages 2-4)

Sleepyheads caught my eye the minute I saw it, and stole my heart. This is an immensely soothing just-before-bed book. One by one the reader sees all different kinds of animals tucked into their beds. Each animal is plump and peacefully asleep or almost there. Every page is gently illuminated making the night seem welcoming and almost warm. The text encourages children to name each animal and to look for the one sleepyhead at the end of the book that we are still haven’t found for, “But there’s one little sleepyhead who’s not in his bed. Where, oh where, could he be?” A satisfying ending when that particular little sleepy child is finally found! A great baby shower gift.

 

Tinyville Town: I’m a FirefighterBook cover of tinyville town: i'm a firefighter
Written and illustrated by Brian Biggs
(Abrams Appleseed; $7.95, Ages 3 and up)

I showed this book to a friend who said, “What I like about it is that the firefighter’s moustache is like three stories tall.” Exactly! I love this firefighter and his enormous moustache. It’s a wonderful book for a little guy or gal who loves to see those firefighters hard at work. The book goes through the day in the life of a fireman and his co-workers (which include a female firefighter). They have an action packed day from the first ring of the alarm bell to the well deserved sleep at the end of a busy day. The team fights fires at a bakery and come home with baked goods! What’s not to love? The illustrations are full of action, but the text is simple enough that little children won’t loose attention. Full of excitement, yet cozy enough to read at any time of day this board book, though recommended for preschoolers, would actually make a great purchase for even a one to two-year-old.

  • Reviewed by Hilary Taber

 

 

 

 

 

Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio

Gaston, written by Kelly DiPucchio gaston-9781442451025_lg and illustrated by Christian Robinson, is reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey.

Two little pups, as cute as can be, discover that family comes first, even when you must struggle to find your place in the litter. Kelly DiPucchio’s adorable GASTON (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster, $16.99, Ages 4-8), doesn’t look like his poodle sisters Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo and Ooh-La-La but he works hard to master mama’s lessons in sipping, yipping and walking with grace. During a stroll through the park, Gaston encounters Antoinette, who doesn’t quite fit in with her rough-and-tumble bulldog brothers Rocky, Ricky and Bruno. Trading places makes the canine families look right, but they just don’t feel right. Can the mixed-up pups reconcile how they appear with who they really are?

gastonint1.jpg

Interior spread from Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio with illustrations by Christian Robinson, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, © 2014.

DiPucchio’s clever, zippy text makes this a delightful book about families, belonging, and being true to oneself. The silly names and playful phrases (nibble their kibble/proper or precious or pink) will guarantee giggles through multiple readings. Robinson’s delightful acrylic illustrations capture the bouncy theme perfectly, wrapping the text around the energetic action of the pups and enhancing their distinctive personalities. Springy greens, mustard yellows, and mauve taupes give a retro feel to a fresh and fun story.

gastonint2

Interior spread from Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio with illustrations by Christian Robinson, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, © 2014.

GASTON received a starred review from Kirkus, which proclaimed it “A perfect read aloud that will leave them begging for more—an absolute delight.” I couldn’t agree more. Whether tough or tender, precious or brutish, young book lovers will fall head over heels for the charm of Gaston.

 

 –       Reviewed by Cathy Ballou Mealey

Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from the publisher and received no other compensation.  The opinions expressed here are my own.

Brave and Mighty Little Chick

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tlc tour hostChick-o-Saurus-RexGood Reads With Ronna is excited to be part of the Chick-O-Saurus Rex  (Simon & Schuster, $16.99, ages 4-8) blog tour. This new picture book is a collaboration by husband and wife team Lenore and Daniel Jennewein.

If you saw a tree house you’d want to go in, wouldn’t you? Well so did Little Chick. The only problem was the bullies, Little Donkey, Little Pig and Little Sheep, keeping him out. They announced, “This is a club for the brave and mighty. First you have to prove you belong.” Not exactly a warm and welcoming requirement to place on poultry.

Chick-O-Saurus RexBut Little Chick was up for the challenge despite the mean behavior of the taunting trio. While other chickens might have been discouraged, Little Chick persevered. He wondered if somewhere in his family tree there might be proof of a brave and mighty chicken and posed this question to Father Rooster. Together they perused a family album for hints of bravery and might in their lineage.

When a photo shows Grandpa Rooster unearthing an ancestor’s fossil (yes, fossil), Little Chick is eager to pursue this clue. Could our Little Chick be a descendant of dinos? Several weeks pass before a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton is dug up proving Little Chick’s mighty heritage. He takes off for the tree house to share his discovery, but finds the bullies being preyed upon by a hungry wolf. With a scary battle-cry of “Cock-A-Doodle-Dooo!,” and a frightening fossil clutched in his fist, Little Chick chases the wolf away, is proclaimed a hero and permanently changes the bullies’ opinion of one so small.

Lenore and Daniel Jennewein

Lenore and Daniel Jennewein

This winning book is infused with subtle humor (perhaps adults will have to explain the chicken-dance craze reference to youngsters, but the picture of Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandpa crossing the road should be easier to catch) and adorable illustrations that make it mighty good human entertainment.

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

Scared Silly

 Reviewer Rita Zobayan gets hoppy and in a Halloween mood.

Have you ever had the sneaking suspicion that you are being stalked? Perhaps someone or something is at the root of your suspicions? Jasper Rabbit believes that villainous vegetables, namely creepy carrots, are on his tail. What is a rabbit to do when the vegetable he loves the most won’t leave him alone?

Written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown, Creepy Carrots ($16.99, Simon & Schuster, ages 3 and up) is an amusing read with a shadowy twist. We meet Jasper, consumer of carrots, who has a sneaking suspicion that there is more than meets the eye regarding the carrots of Crackenhopper Field. Could it be that the carrots are alive and following him?! Is Jasper imagining the bevy of beta-carotene watching his every move?!

Jasper was about to help himself to a victory snack…when he heard it. The soft…sinister…tunktunktunk of carrots creeping. He turned…but there was nothing there. Just my imagination, he thought. But he hopped a little faster. That night, as he was brushing his teeth…there they were! Jasper whipped around…but nothing. He laughed at himself, picked his toothbrush off the floor, and went to bed…quickly.

Jasper’s growing unease of carrots is portrayed in a kid-friendly manner. My three year old daughter was held captive by this storyline and by the pictures of common items that children can so easily mistake for scary bad guys (or scary carrots). This clever read is enhanced by the cartoon-like illustrations. Set to a simple color palette of black, white, gray and orange, the illustrations seem like a film noir in charcoal. The expressions on the carrots are fun to pick out.

 

Creepy Carrots makes for an entertaining Halloween or meal-time read. Just be sure to watch your back the next time you’re in the produce section of your grocery store. Click here to see a video interview with the illustrator, Peter Brown.

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