Best Board Books For Ages 1-5

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Making a List and Checking it Twice
courtesy of bookseller and reviewer Hilary Taber – 

GRWRCoveted Bookseller Award
Looking for a great book for a young child in your life? Still have that hard to buy for niece, nephew or grandchild on your list? No worries! As a children’s bookseller I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see a lot of children’s books all year long. So, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite board books from the 2015 publishing year to help you with your last minute shopping.

For Ages 1-5

StarWarsEpicYarnsEmpireStar Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi by Jack  & Holman Wang
(Chronicle Books; $9.95, Ages 1-4)

With the new Star Wars movie coming out soon what better way to indoctrinate or err…teach a new generation. Each soft, needle felted scene is a recreation appropriate for learning first words. Princess Leia teaches the word “princess,” Luke Skywalker is our example of the word “learn,” and so on. Each scene is so lovingly recreated that every page is of the utmost quality.

WhenIGrowUpcvrWhen I Grow Up by Tad Carpenter
(Sterling Children’s Books; $7.95, Ages 1-3)

This gem of a board book takes toddlers through several occupations from firefighter to teacher that they might aspire to in the future in a lift-the-flap format. By listening closely to the text, your little one may be able to guess the job of the person behind the flap. These are all people in your community as well, so it’s a nice roundup of all the people who help us!

Color Dogcolor-dog-cvr.jpg by Matthew Van Fleet with photographs by Brian Stanton
(Paula Wiseman Books; $19.99, Ages 1 and up)

This is an adorable book! Perfect for a one-year-old or early two this lift-the-flap, tactile book uses pictures of pups to teach colors. Pull out tabs through out the book make the dogs move (even the dog on the cover pulls on the shoe string in his mouth if you pull the red tab). Rhyming text, and a chunky, durable cover make this a great gift.

SharkvsTrainShark vs Train by Chris Barton with illustrations by Tom Lichtenheld
(Little Brown Books for Young Readers; $6.99, Ages 2-5)

The ultimate battle! Two boys meet. One has a shark toy and the other has a toy train. A hilarious imaginative battle ensues Of course if the battle is underwater then Shark is going to win, but if it’s on land then Train is going to have the upper hand! What about a visit to a library? Right, neither of them would win that one! Witty, funny, and it combines sharks and trains in one book. That’s a sure winner right there.

Red Light, Green Light by Yumi HeoRedLightGreenLightcvr
(Cartwheel Books/Scholastic; $6.99, Ages 3-5 )

Yumi Heo writes and illustrates such wonderful books! Red Light, Green Light is no exception. This board book has been one of my favorites to recommend this year because it’s both interesting and straightforward. Lift-the-flap elements combine with rhyming text about all the signs that youngsters can see on the road in the car while being driven around town. This book is perfect for the little transportation enthusiast in your life, and great for both girls and boys.

  • Reviewed by Hilary Taber


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New Star Wars Epic Yarns Board Book Trilogy from Chronicle Books

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If Kids Haven’t Felt the Force, Now is the Time!
Star Wars Epic Yarns Trilogy:
A New Hope; The Empire Strikes Back;  & Return of the Jedi
by Jack and Holman Wang
(Chronicle Books; $9.99 each, ages 0-2)


StarWarsEpicYarnsANewHopeAs fans know, today, May 4th, is Star Wars Day so what better way to celebrate than by sharing a new trilogy of board books from the creative team of Jack and Holman Wang? These 24 paged, sturdy books are ideal for introducing a new generation to an American film icon. The three books, Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope, Star Wars Epic Yarns: The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars Epic Yarns: Return of the Jedi do not disappoint, in fact they are quite amazing when you consider how they were made.

StarWarsEpicYarnsEmpireÜber inventive twin brothers, Jack and Holman, have painstakingly recreated classic scenes (12 in fact) using felt as their medium! The 12 scenes in each book were designed using 7:1 scale. The characters and settings, including the desert, swamp, forest and snow, all have been recreated to resemble the original locales. And if that’s not mind-blowing enough, the Wangs have been able to reduce the gist of each plot line down to 12 individual words for little ones to see, hear and learn.

I can picture grandparents, parents and caregivers reading the board books with a huge smile on their faces as they recall major scenes from the Star Wars films that have stayed with them for years, maybe decades.  In the first book, youngsters see the captured Princess Leia conversing with R2-D2 and so the word, princess, is introduced. Luke Skywalker discovers the hidden Death Star plans in the droid, boy, learns to use a lightsaber, meets captain Hans Solo, travels through space, and the colorful cast of characters become heroes in the end.

The story breakdown in the other two board books is similar in that the Wang brothers have perfectly paired words with characters and selected the best scenes to reproduce. Little ones are going to LOVE the Wang’s little green Jedi Master Yoda and be impressed by the commanding stature of Darth Vader, father and laugh at the marvelous monster depiction in felt of Jabba the Hutt.

I sure wish these clever books had been around when my kids were little, but now I can at least look forward to sharing them one day with my grandchildren before they, like millions of others, get hooked on the films!

– Reviewed by Ronna Mandel