Board Book Round-Up – February 2020.
Baby Goat and Baby Kitten. Illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang.
Wake up, explore, play, and end the day with some baby animals. These beautiful board books incorporate finger puppets of baby animals so that different behaviours can be acted out as the text is read.
These books introduce the idea that other animals sound and act differently, but that maybe they are not so dissimilar to ourselves. Little animals wake up, they interact with their mothers, play, eat and explore just like little people. Building this empathy will help the reader to treat other animals with respect and kindness, and to decrease fear when meeting these creatures in the real world.
These books are also incredibly cute. I had never been sold on puppet books when I saw them in bookshops. Then I tried the puppet out. It works just as well as puppetry in other forms. The illustrations provide a landscape for the play.
These would make a lovely gift for a new baby.
Baby’s Very First Faces. Illustrated by Jo Lodge.
High contrast pages. Mirror.
New babies love to look at faces. They also love high-contrast pictures.
This book has been designed with the very tiniest readers in mind. Make no mistake – we can learn reading beahviours long before we speak a sentence. Reading isn’t just about vocabulary. It is about communication and fun and knowing that there is a secure space at the end of every day. Reading is about so very much more than words and this book reminds us of that.
With striking black-and-yellow designs and crinkly sounding pages, this book is strong on sensory experience.
The three words inside here – Daddy, Mummy, and Baby, are words that lots of children learn earliest of all. This is, of course, only one family model – if it helps at all, the words are on separate pages, so it is possible to pick out the ones most relevant to the young reader in question.
The soft pages also encourage lots of cuddling-up and lots of practice in turning pages.
Bake A Rainbow Cake! by Amirash Kassem.
Colours. Baking terminology.
Cut it. Fill it. Frost it. Sprinkle it.
Run through the process of baking a rainbow cake. With tabs and wheels and colourful illustrations, this is the perfect book not only to practice the colours of the rainbow but to introduce words and concepts associated with baking.
Little people are great bakers. Sure, there are things they can’t do, like use a knife or put trays into the oven, but all that mixing? And sprinkling? And using their hands to roll things into shape? The sooner small people get into the kitchen – under supervision – the better.
This is a wonderful book to run through what the experience of baking might look like. It has a great play factor. Turning a wheel to add food colouring. Pulling a tab to see cakes rise. There is plenty of scope for adult – mini-reader talk, which will introduce even more wonderful vocabulary.
This is the first board book I have seen about baking, and it is fabulous.
Fun At The Fair by Ingela P Arrhenius.
Motion. Location-specific vocabulary.
Welcome to the funfair.
The roller coaster goes up then down. The wheel spins round and round. There’s so much for small people to watch at a fair, long before they are big enough to go on the rides.
Fairs are great for talking about motion. Spinning. Sliding. Up and down. Twirling around. Not to mention what they do for the imagination. Where on earth do such magical places come from? What might happen when the wheel reaches the top? Where does the little train go when it disappears inside the tunnel?
The design of this book imitates the experience of visiting a location in real life. Instead of seeing things one at a time, the pages are all different shapes and sizes. As one thing is in the foreground, others can be seen in the distance.
A beautiful addition to the series.
Let’s Go series (On A Ferry and On A Rocket) by Rosalyn Albert and Natalia Moore.
Vehicles and new settings.
All aboard. Let’s Go!
Climb on board different vehicles and get set for adventure. Sail up to the moon in a rocket, or ride the waves and watch out for dolphins from the deck of a ferry.
This beautiful series not only introduces new vehicles, but it also introduces new locations. It is also one of the few times I have seen children of all genders and skin tones at the helm of big and exciting vehicles. Too often, the books feature a single blonde boy wearing glasses and dungarees. Possibly with a cheeky grin. There is such a child in this series, but there are six children in total and the representation is far broader than normal. Research shows that children form ideas about gender limitations by the age of two. Two change this, we need books like these that challenge stereotypes and prove that everyone can grow up to command ferries and rockets.
Two children share each adventure, so this is also a great series to promote friendship and working together.
With heaps of excitement and positive message, this belongs on every nursery bookshelf.
Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop! by Todd Tuell. Illustrated by Tad Carpenter.
Movement. Sibling relations.
The popular picture book is now available in board book form.
Little ninja is very busy. He runs. He climbs. He chops. Little ninja never stops. As the words follow his adventures, the pictures tell the emotional narrative. This little ninja is watched by a small brother. At first, the little brother is ignored. Then Ninja’s activities cause upset. As he makes it up, he finds out that his little brother is, in fact, the perfect partner. The story ends with the pair dressed up together, kicking, jumping, and chopping.
For small readers, this book is a brilliant way of introducing vocabulary around movement. It is also good for talking about friendly relationships – with siblings and with other children.
The rhyme is as fast-paced as Ninja’s actions. It would be fun – in the correct space – to read it and allow small readers to act out some of the movements.
High-flying, jumping, kicking fantastic fun.
Noisy Farm by Rod Campbell.
Farm terminology. Animal names.
It’s daybreak at the farm. Soon all the farm animals are waking up and making different noises. What other sounds can be heard around the farm? Lift the flaps to find out what else is going on around the farm.
Tiny people have such a lot to learn – and they learn with all of their senses. Noises, smells and tastes can be just as new and confusing as anything they see. This book is perfect for introducing small people to the things they might see and hear in the countryside, and especially around a farm. It is also perfect for introducing animal names.
A potentially unknown and frightening location is made friendly with the inclusion of baby animals. The message throughout the book is that animals have parents and babies too.
This book is such a classic that I remember it from my own infancy. There is a gentleness to the narrative and illustrations that helps the young reader to feel comfortable with the idea of other animals.
Who Loves Books? by Lizi Boyd.
Who loves books? Is it you?
On a sunny day, Squirrel sails her boat along the bank handing out books. She has lots of takers. All the way along the bank, little animals appear to make use of her floating library. All except Raccoon, who sneaks along the bank keeping track of the boat. This not only creates a fabulous hide and seek game, but it builds in some suspense as we are kept waiting to learn whether Raccoon will, eventually, get a book to read.
The design is beautiful. With full-size and half-size pages, it is possible to create different layouts – to match the stream on the bottom half of the spreads with different backgrounds.
The colour palette, with its summery greens and light pastel blues, is perfect for a calming shared read.
A lovely way to share some positivity and excitement about books with tiny readers.
Thanks to Abrams And Chronicle Kids, Catch A Star, and Macmillan Children’s Books for gifting the titles in this feature. Opinions my own.