32 posts categorized "Board Books" Feed

A New Chick for Chickies: Janee Trasler

Book: A New Chick for Chickies
Author: Janee Trasler
Pages: 24
Age Range: 1-4 (padded board book)

My daughter and I quite like Janee Trasler's Chickies series (the previous books are Pottytime for Chickies, Bedtime for Chickies, and Dinnertime for Chickies). Therefore, we were both happy when the newest book in the series, A New Chick for Chickies, arrived. In this installment, the three Chickies have a pretty good life with their three adult caregivers, Cow, Sheep, and Pig.

Everything changes when a new baby brother Chick arrives. Chick immediately starts stealing the adults' attention. Patiently and cheerfully, however, each adult shows the Chickies how having another Chick on-hand will actually improve things. For example, when they protest the new Chick dancing with Pig, Pig says: 

"Don't be worried.
This is fine.
Now we have a conga line."

A New Chick for Chickies is thus a very simple, age-appropriate treatment of the insecurities that toddlers may have when a younger sibling arrives. Like the other books in the series, A New Chick for Chickies consists of short, rhyming sentences accompanied by cheerful, silly illustrations. To be sure, the Chickies look rather grouchy in much of the book, but their caregivers are always able to coax them into a smile. And the end of the book, in which a whole host of other chicks are born, is sure to entertain young readers. 

A New Chick for Chickies is a welcome addition to this series of padded board books. Though the Chickie books are clearly meant for toddlers and early preschoolers, my four-year-old has been resisting passing ours along to her younger cousins, because she loves them so much. This series would make a great first birthday gift for any child, and would be welcome under the Christmas tree for preschoolers. 

Publisher: HarperFestival (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Little Blue Truck's Christmas: Alice Schertle & Jill McElmurry

Book: Little Blue Truck's Christmas
Author: Alice Schertle
Illustrator: Jill McElmurry
Pages: 24
Age Range: 2-5 (board book with 

Even though the ending is a bit overtly message-y for my taste, I love the bouncy rhythms of Alice Schertle's Little Blue Truck, and am happy to read it aloud to my daughter at any time. In fact, whenever anyone or anything in our household is stuck we always say: "Help! Help! cried the Little Blue Truck. Beep! Beep! Beep! I'm stuck! I'm stuck!". Thus I was unable to resist requesting a copy of The Little Blue Truck's Christmas when the opportunity came around. And I'm glad I did. The Little Blue Truck's Christmas is going to be a welcome addition to my family's holiday read-alouds. 

In The Little Blue Truck's Christmas, Blue stops by his friend Toad's Christmas tree lot, and picks up five trees (all numbered, to add to the book's learning potential for preschoolers). He drops the trees off, one by one, at the homes of his friends, saving the very last one for his own home (where Toad is waiting). On that last page, the lights of the tree twinkle in red, green, yellow and blue, a fun surprise for the young reader. 

As a read-aloud, The Little Blue Truck's Christmas is not quite as fun as the original, but it's still upbeat and rhythmic, like this:

"Beep! Beep! Beep!
December's here!
Little Blue Truck
is full of cheer.

and

"ONE tree, TWO trees,
THREE trees, FOUR.
Just enough room
for one tree more!"

and

""Maaa!" says the goat.
"This short one, please!"
Now there is ONE 
green Christmas tree."

In the second and third examples, the numbers are colored in red and green, shown bigger than the surrounding text. The trees have numbered tags to reinforce the counting practice. They are added to the truck in numeric order, and then removed in countdown order.

McElmurry's illustrations are warm and cheerful. The homes of all of the animals are different from one another, but all are decorated for Christmas, with colored lights and other forms of Christmas cheer. the goat's home bears a more than passing resemblance to a manger, in a nice, subtle touch. The ground is snowy and the sky starry throughout. And Blue, with his round headlight eyes and a wreath gracing his front grill, is as friendly and loyal as ever.

Young fans of The Little Blue Truck, those who appreciate Christmas, anyway, will love The Little Blue Truck's Christmas. Parents will find it pleasant to read aloud, and ever-so-slightly educational, with a warm, holiday feel. This one is definitely worth adding to the holiday reading list for preschoolers.  

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHBooks
Publication Date: September 23, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Elmer: David McKee

Book: Elmer
Author: David McKee
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-6 (board book)

Harper Collins has issued a new 25th anniversary board book edition of David McKee's Elmer. This is a slightly over-sized board book, with a bright patchwork cover, and my four-year-old (meeting Elmer for the first time) was unable to resist it.

For those who have not made his acquaintance, Elmer is the story of a patchwork elephant who stands out from among the other elephants in his herd. Elmer stands out not just because of how he looks, but because of his happy-go-lucky nature. He makes the others laugh. However, fearing that the other elephants are laughing at him, rather than with him, Elmer decides to disguise himself. But not to worry - Elmer's true nature, and eventually his true colors, shine through in the end. 

There's a subtle message here about being yourself, of course. But I think that i has been around for 25 years because David McKee doesn't hit kids over the head with this message. Instead, he celebrates the delightful absurdity of a patchwork elephant, and the joy that all of the elephants have in witnessing a good joke. Elmer is also wonderfully bright and appealing for the youngest readers. At the end of the book, the elephants elephants decide to color themselves one day a year, in celebration of Elmer. The final spread is a riot of color and patterns. I challenge anyone to see it and not smile.

This new board book edition of Elmer would make pretty much a perfect holoiday gift for a toddler in your life, especially if accompanied by a stuffed Elmer. There's a reason that classics like this are still around. Elmer is a fun, bouncy sort of book, one with heart.  

Publisher: HarperFestival (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: August 26, 2014 (this board book reprint edition)
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon and iBooks affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).


Open Wide! Stephen Krensky & James Burks

Book: Open Wide!
Author: Stephen Krensky
Illustrator: James Burks
Pages: 14
Age Range: 1-4

Open Wide! is a preschooler-friendly upcoming board book about the challenges of getting a baby to eat, and the lengths that parents will go to. A mom and dad are trying to get their baby to eat his dinner. He's old enough to be offered a variety of solid foods, and to take a certain delight in refusing to open his mouth. The parents attempt to manipulate him into eating through a combination of words and actions. They have a spoon that projects from a red airplane. They try to entice him with a series of animal comparisons, like:

"These yummy green beans will make you as big as an elephant."

We see the mom holding out the spoon/airplane, while the dad pretends to be an elephant. The dad's shadow is in the shape of an elephant, lending an additional visual cue so that readers can see what he's trying to do. My four year old found the goofiness of the dad's animal postures hilarious. He is particularly silly jumping around the kitchen like a bunny. His son, however, is not amused. The baby remains recalcitrant to the very end, when he takes matters into his own hands. As a bonus, this book comes with a paper airplane / spoon holder that can be extracted fro the back cover and folded together.

Although this book is about a baby, I think that it works for preschoolers, too, because stubborn behavior in regards to eating does not go away when kids learn to walk and talk. When reading with a preschooler, one can leave the punch line of each animal comparison up in the air, and ask the child to fill in the blanks.

Open Wide! is entertaining for parents, too, because we've all been there. It's quite clear, though not explicitly stated, that these are first-time parents. The cute animal examples are interspersed with statements like: "Sam, we don't have all night." For me, this dance between cajoling and demanding obedience rang true. 

Burks' illustrations are entertaining, full of funny animal shadows, grouchy baby faces, and increasingly frantic parents. There is enough detail here to make this more a book for preschoolers than for babies, though I'm sure parents will not be able to resist sharing it with their brand-new solid food eaters.

Open Wide!, with its combination of little kid humor and realistic (ok, slightly exaggerated) depiction of first-time parents, is going on my baby gift list. The "Free Plane Inside" is an added bonus. This one is definitely worth a look. 

Publisher: Cartwheel Books (@Scholastic
Publication Date: July 29, 2014
Source of Book: Advance review copy from the publisher

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This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Pottytime for Chickies, Bedtime for Chickies

Books: Pottytime for Chickies and Bedtime for Chickies
Author: Janee Trasler
Pages: 24 each
Age Range: 2-4 (padded board books)

Pottytime for Chickies and Bedtime for Chickies, both by Janee Trasler, are part of a new series of padded board books focused on issues of interest to toddlers and early preschoolers (upcoming titles discuss the arrival of a new chick, and the development of table manners). Both books feature three little round chicks, apparently parented by three farm animals (Pig, Cow, and Sheep). The parent figures all look male to me, though this isn't completely, which makes for a nice, subtle message about varied types of families. 

In Pottytime for Chickies, the chicks are, as you might suspect, learning how to use the toilet. They have their own ideas about what the potty is for, however, and when left to their own devices they do things like swim in the potty (ick!), and use the toilet paper like a trapeze. Each time, one of the parents returns, passes out hugs or kisses, and tries to get them onto the right track. So, for example, we have:

"Pottytime, Chickies.
Just two things.

First wipe your tail feathers,
then wash your wings.

Goodbye, Sheep.
Shut the door.
We know what the potty's for."

Followed by jumping off the back of the potty onto a pile of towels, followed by hugs and gentle redirection from Sheep. And in the space of a few short pages, the chicks figure out what to do. So, no, not the most realistic potty training book that parents can add to their arsenals. But it is pretty fun! My already potty-trained daughter pealed with laughter over the chicks in the potty. 

Bedtime for Chickies tackles another common issue - the ways that kids will delay going to bed. Even as the adults are settling into their own beds, the chick are thirsty, have to go potty, and need a story, to the increasing chagrin of the three tired adults. Eventually, each chick ends up falling asleep in the lap of a similarly sleeping grown up animal (a more realistic ending than the first book). 

One thing I liked about Bedtime for Chickies was the way the author teased kids, by making them think that a rhyme was coming when it wasn't. Like this:

It's bedtime for chickies.
It's bedtime for sheep.
It's bedtime for pig and cow.
Let's all go to ..."

My four-year-old immediately chimed in with "sleep." But in face, on the next page the text is:

"cheep, cheep, cheep.
We can't sleep.
We have to go potty."

The disruption in the text mirrors that disruption in the actual bedtime process. Nice.

Trasler's illustrations aren't realistic, of course, but the three round chicks are cute and kid-friendly, and the adult animals are quirky (and wear clothes). The adults come across as more nurturing in the potty book, vs. just exhausted in the bedtime book (both of which seem appropriate to me). The colors are soothing - not to bright, and the energy of the chicks is apparent on nearly every page. 

I think this is a nice addition to the ranks of toddler-focused board books. These take a very light tone, and focus more on the universal humor of things kids do than on "teaching" a certain behavior. And I do love that the adult caregivers are apparently male and of different species than the kids. Not only does this make the book more visually interesting, it quietly tosses stereotypes aside (an usual thing in the board book world). Recommended new baby gifts or first through third birthdays. I look forward to seeing the other books in this fun new series.  

Publisher: Harper (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: January 28, 2014
Source of Book: Review copies from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Peek-a-Zoo!: Nina Laden

Book: Peek-a-Zoo!
Author: Nina Laden
Pages: 22 (Board Book)
Age Range: 2-5

Nina Laden's Peek-a-Who? was one of my daughter's favorite books when she was about two. We've given it many times as a gift since then. So I was naturally interested when the new sequel, Peek-a-Zoo! landed on my doorstep. Like the first book, Peek-a-Zoo! is a board book featuring cut-outs that gives clues, and invites young children to guess what's coming next. In this example, all of the mysteries involve animals one might find at the zoo. The selections are driven by maintaining a motif of words that rhyme with "zoo." So we have "Peek a MEW!", showing a tiger cub playing with a ball, and "Peek a BAMBOO!", with a panda bear chewing on some bamboo. 

Because of the narrower focus, I found the answers much more difficult to guess from the tiny hint shown in the cutout than in the first book. "Peek a COCKATOO!" was particularly challenging, with its display of a fan of green feathers. But level of difficulty isn't really a problem with a book like this, because the child is going to read it dozens or hundreds of times, and he or she will have a chance to learn what all of the pictures mean. Like the first book, an embedded mirror at the end gives the child a chance to participate in the story. 

In truth, I don't know whether or not Peek-a-Zoo! will have the same appeal for toddlers that Peek-a-Who? does. I don't have a toddler nearby to test it out on. To me, the examples seem a bit more contrived (as necessitated by the book's tighter focus). But the illustrations are eye-catching without being too busy. And books about animals are always popular with the pre-preschool set. So I will  add Peek-a-Zoo! to my go-to gift list for new babies, as a companion book to Peek-a-Who? And if any of you have tried out both books with your toddlers, I would love to hear about their reactions. 

Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Picture Books to Help Get Ready for Halloween

Here are a few picture books that we're enjoying in my house, as we prepare for Halloween:

Pinkalicious: Pink or Treat by Victoria Kann (HarperFestival). We've been taking this little paperback story with us everywhere. When a power outage threatens to cancel trick-or-treating in Pinkville, Pinkalicious must channel supergirl Pinkagirl to save the day. She takes her clever idea to the mayor, and makes her case. This book comes with a page of stickers, which makes it extra-popular with my three-year-old. 

Just Say Boo! by Susan Hood (ill. Jen Henry) (HarperCollins). This was one of our favorite picture books last year, and has been brought back into rotation recently. It's about a family that goes out trick-or-treating, and all of the things that seem scary at first, but turn out to be fun. There's a toddler-friendly question and answer refrain, with which the answer is usually "Boo!". My full review is here

It's Pumpkin Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff (ill. Felicia Bond) (Balzer + Bray). This is a board book spin-off to the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" series, in which Mouse decorates pumpkins to reflect different emotions (happy, sad, surprised, etc.). Though meant for the youngest of readers ("Mouse paints a happy face on this pumpkin", etc.), my daughter still enjoys going back to this one, because she likes Mouse's antics. 

Duck and Goose Find a Pumpkin by Tad Hills (Schwartz & Wade). In this oversized board book, Duck and Goose muddle about looking for a pumpkin (looking in ever-more ridiculous places), until Thistle clues them in to the fact that there is a pumpkin patch. It's typical silly Duck and Goose fun, and still makes my daughter peal with laughter. My full review is here

Vera's Halloween by Vera Rosenberry (Henry Holt). This is a 2008 title that I had kept, and just introduced to my daughter this week. It's part of a series of books about a young elementary school girl named Vera. In this book, Vera goes trick-or-treating after dark with her father and big sisters for the first time. She gets separated from them, and then a sudden storm leads to a bit of misery. It all turns out safe and cozy in the end, after she happens to knock on the door of a classmate, and the classmate's parents help her. I found some of the details a bit implausible in this one, but my daughter (who very briefly lost track of me at a church function this weekend) loved it. And I did like the subtle message that if something goes wrong, other parents will try to help (as happened with me this weekend).  

Splat the Cat: What Was That? by Rob Scotton (HarperFestival). This one is a little paperback lift the flap book in which Splat and his friend Spike visit a haunted house in search of missing mouse Seymour. The house is filled with mysterious and scary sounds, some of which are explained at the end of the book... While she's generally a bit beyond lift-the-flap books, my daughter likes Splat as a character, and has been enjoying this book.  

Honorable mention to Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds (ill. Peter Brown) (Simon & Schuster), which I haven't introduced to my daughter yet. Though not directly about Halloween, this is a deliciously creepy picture book in which a greedy young rabbit ends up stalked by carrots. It's quirky, unique, and just a touch scary, with a satisfying ending. My full review is here

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 


Two Taro Gomi Board Books

Bookw: Hide and Seek and Wiggle! 
Author: Taro Gomi
Pages: 22 each
Age Range: 1 - 3

Chronicle sent me two great board books for toddlers by Taro Gomi. Both directly engage kids, making the reading an active experience. The first, Hide and Seek, has animals playing hide and seek with common household objects. The left-hand page shows a small picture of the object and asks:

"Which (animal) hides (the object)?"

For example: "Which rooster hides a glove?"

The facing page shows two or more animals (increasing throughout the book), ending up with kids instead of animals on the last page, and a hidden object. In all cases, the object blends in quite well with the animal in question. For example, for "Which turtle hides a scooter?", a scooter's wheels protrude from beneath the shell of one of the turtles, in place of feet. It's quite subtle - kids will have to look twice to find it. Other examples are easier to spot, probably to reduce frustration in young readers. But Gomi still displays quite a bit of creativity in his choices (finding object / animal pairings that work). 

Hide and Seek can also function as a counting book, with children counting the number of animals on each page. Gomi's animals are not precisely realistic, particularly in their coloring, but they are recognizable and kid-friendly. The kids shown on the last page are all brown-skinned, making this an especially good choice for parents and librarians seeking books about non-white characters for the youngest readers. 

Hide and Seek invites kids to engage with the book by pointing out the objects, and counting the animals. Wiggle! begs interaction even more directly. Each page spread features an animal doing something characteristic. "The elephant swings her trunk." "The penguin pecks with his beak." And so on. But there's a dime-sized hole through the entire book (right where the robot's nose would be on the cover), and the defining attribute is left blank. It's clear that a child's finger, or fingers, is meant to poke through the hole, and act out the text. So, a finger becomes a swinging elephant's trunk, or a penguin's pecking beak. It's very fun. Even as an adult reading this by myself, I was unable to resist poking my fingers through. 

Although the text is minimal, Gomi uses strong verbs when he can, like: "The crocodile flashes his fangs." As in Hide and Seek, the animals are recognizable without being quite realistic, and colored in unexpected ways (a blue crocodile, for instance). The minimal detail in the illustrations should work for the very youngest of readers. 

Funny, educational, visually pleasing, and begging active interaction. These are two excellent board book choices for one to three year olds. Recommended!

Publisher:  Chronicle Books (@ChronicleKids)
Publication Date: July 23, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Hug! and Peek-a-boo!: Magnetic Arms books by Ben Mantle

Books: Hug! and Peek-a-boo!
Author: Ben Mantle
Pages: 16 each
Age Range: 1-3

Tiger Tales Press recently released these two "Magnetic Arms" board books by Ben Mantle. For each book, arms reach out from the back cover, and wrap around to the front of the book. In Hug!, the mother bear's arms hug the baby.

In Peek-a-boo! (though you can't see this on the cover image to the left), hands cover the rabbit's eyes. In both cases, the arms are very lightly magnetized. They stay closed on their own, but are relatively easy for small fingers to open. They work as bookmarks, too. 

Both texts are quite simple. but more vibrant and active than the covers suggest. Hugs! celebrates a variety of types of animal hugs, like this:

"Hooray for hugs! They're so much fun.
There's a hug for everyone.

How about a squashy, squeezy,

twisty, tangly,
easy breezy,

... HUG!"

Where the ... represents two other rhyming page spreads showing different kinds of hugs. In the above example, different fonts are used for the adjectives, reflecting the meaning of each word. For example, "tangly" is shown with a twisted spiral font. and "squashy" has the letters all squashed together. 

Each page includes a colorful, not particularly representational, picture of a different type of animals hugging. The "twisty, tangly" hug involves two giraffes with their long necks twisted together. "Small and snug" (in small font) shows two mice hugging. And so on. The animals are clearly recognizable, though not always realistically colored. 

I like the energy of this book, with it's varied, bold fonts and assorted animals. The text is a bit sing-songy, though. It's not a book that parents will love reading aloud over and over again. But it's still a fun one for toddlers. 

Peek-a-boo! is quite similar. except that the pictures show different types of animals playing peek-a-boo. Generally, the right-hand page of each spread shows glimpses of a hiding animal, while that animal is revealed, and named on the left-hand side of the next page. The author again uses vibrant adjectives in varied fonts, and includes cute, if not quite realistic, animals. My favorite page was the "funny, bouncing bunnies in their underwear!"

Both Hug! and Peek-a-boo! are clearly designed to appeal to the youngest of readers. The magnetic arms add just a touch of interactivity, and also reinforce the very idea of hugging. 

Publisher: Tiger Tales Books (@TigerTalesBooks)
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Splish, Splash, Splosh!: David Melling

Book: Splish, Splash, Splosh!
Author: David Melling (@DavidMelling1)
Pages: 22
Age Range: 2-5 

Splish, Splash, Splosh! by David Melling is a medium-sized board book with padded cover (part of a series from Tiger Tales Books). It's an appealing counting book featuring Splosh the duck (a character first introduced in a book published in the UK) and his nine duck friends. 

The text is bouncy and read-aloud-able, with rhymes for each pair of numbers. Like this (across two page spreads):

"ONE fluffy duck goes waddling
one day.

TWO fluffy ducks have found
a place to play! 

It's a fun book to read aloud. But it's Melling's illustrations that will delight toddlers. We see Splosh in an inner tube, hesitating to jump in to the pool. We see the other ducks, in swim caps, goggles, and even flippers bouncing around, bumping into one another. We see Splosh balanced in his inner tube, which hangs from a tree (after a diving board mishap), and a clearly irritated bird poking a hole in said inner tube.

The illustrations are just the right mix of silly and simple. There's a plain white background, and little texture to the illustrations. Melling's focus is all on the ducks, their swim paraphernalia, and the pool. And, on the last page, water splashing everywhere.

Splish, Splash, Splosh! would be a great bathtime book for two-year-olds, or just a fun counting book for slightly older preschoolers. The padded cover and brightly colored letters in the title will catch the eye of young children, who sense immediately that this is a book for them. The sturdy construction, not to mention the quiet humor, will appeal to parents and librarians. 

Publisher: Tiger Tales Books (@TigerTalesBooks)
Publication Date: March 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Our Favorite Birthday Books

BirthdayBooks2Today is my daughter's third birthday (can you believe it?). I suppose that I'll have to stop calling her "Baby" Bookworm eventually. But not quite yet! In honor of her birthday, I'd like to share some of our favorite birthday books. 

Birthday Monsters by Sandra Boynton. Workman. Board Book. This has been one of our family's favorite read-aloud books since Baby Bookworm was tiny. My husband especially enjoys it (and he tends to be very hard to please when it comes to children's books). We've read this one so much that is has entered into our family vocabulary. Like if it happens to be 6:08 someone might say "It's 6:08." Then someone else would respond, "Your present-opening can't wait." Birthday Monsters is a book that truly lends itself to reading aloud, and showcases Boynton's genius. 

Happy Birthday, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton. Robin Corey Books. Board Book. This has been another longtime household favorite. Baby Bookworm especially loves it when Pookie is so excited to start his birthday that he wakes his parents up at the crack of dawn (they later need a nap). Hmmm. Perhaps we shouldn't be reading this one around Baby Bookworm's birthday after all. This book inspired us to acquire all of the other Pookie books, but I think this is the best of them. 

Scaredy Squirrel Has A Birthday Party by Melanie Watt. Kids Can Press. Picture Book. Reviewed here. In truth Baby Bookworm is still a little young to appreciate the humor of this one. But it is one that all Scaredy Squirrel fans should own. Basically, Scaredy tries to plan his own, completely safe, birthday party. But when his friend dog becomes involved, things change (becoming less safe, but more fun). There are tons of tiny details in this book to entertain adults or older children. But Scaredy's cuteness will appeal to younger readers, too. 

Happy Birthday, Hamster by Cynthia Lord (ill. Derek Anderson). Scholastic. Picture Book. We are big Hamster fans in our house. See my review of Hot Rod Hamster. Not sure why I never reviewed Happy Birthday, Hamster, but I can tell you that we read it all the time. It's taken Baby Bookworm a while to completely appreciate what's going on in the story (Hamster's friends pretend that they have forgotten his birthday, only to surprise him at the end). But she loves all of the birthday trappings (cake, presents, balloons, etc.), and the participatory nature of the story (the text asks, frequently "Which would you choose?").

A Birthday for Bear by Bonny Becker (ill. Kady MacDonald Denton). Candlewick. Early Reader. Bear and Mouse are also popular in our household year-round (see my reviews of A Visitor for Bear and A Bedtime for Bear). Baby Bookworm gave a little gasp of joy when she spotted this book in the Early Reader section of the library. She enjoyed it so much that the Easter Bunny put a copy in her Easter basket this year. Although technically an Early Reader, A Birthday for Bear reads much like the other books in the series. Baby Bookworm especially enjoys pointing out Mouse in this one, even as he disguises himself as a mailman, and even as Santa. 

The Cake that Mack Ate by Rose Robart (ill. Maryann Kovalski). Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Picture Book. This one is only loosely a birthday book. It's about the entire food chain that's required to produce a birthday cake, a cake that is, sadly, eaten by Mack the dog. We have a paperback edition of this book, and it's one that we frequently take on trips with us. It has a nice cadence for reading aloud, and never gets old. 

And finally, two books that aren't birthday books but that end with birthday parties (and with which we always sing Happy Birthday).

Bear's Busy Family by Stella Blackstone (ill. Debbie Harter). Barefoot Books. Board Book. This was more a favorite when Baby Bookworm was a bit younger, and I still know it by heart. It celebrates the different things that various family members do ("Smell the bread my Grandma bakes", etc.). At the end, all of the family members and their contributions come together for a feast for Baby's birthday. 

Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers (ill. Marla Frazee). HMH Books. Various Editions (we have the lap-size board book). Reviewed here. This book remains one of our all-time favorites. Each page spread features a different aspect of the life of babies. For example, "Every day, everywhere, babies are fed." Then rhyming text, and pictoral vignettes, give more specific examples (in this case, of what babies eat). Frazee's illustrations include multicultural babies, and families of all types. But Baby Bookworm just likes seeing so many pictures of babies. At the end of the book, a baby celebrates her first birthday.

We have other books floating around the involve birthdays, but these are our favorites. What are your family's favorite birthday books? 

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© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. 


Some Suggested Titles for Baby Gifts

ShareAStoryLogo-colorThis post was written for Day 1 of the Share a Story - Shape a Future literacy blog tour. The overall theme for this year's Share a Story is Literacy: The First Five Years. Day 1, hosted by Maria Burel at Once Upon a Story, focuses on literacy for infants.

Having had an infant in my home relatively recently, I thought that I would suggest some titles to give as gifts to new babies (showers, baptisms, etc.). These titles could also be used by expectant parents to help create a baby book registry (something that I found incredibly useful three years ago - we still maintain ours here). I have limited myself to books that are in print and readily available (at least online), and I have tried to avoid books that are so obvious that you can assume that people already have them. 

Mrs. Mustard's Baby Faces by Jane Wattenberg (Chronicle). Babies LOVE to look at photos of other babies. I prefer the BeginSmart Baby Faces book to this one, but that one is apparently out of print. Still, this one can be folded out and set up in baby's crib or pack-n-play, for hours of baby viewing. The babies on one side are smiling. The babies on the other side are crying.

Peek-A-Who by Nina Laden (Chronicle). This is a fun board book with cutouts, and a sort of mirror at the end. It's sized for very young children. It was one of the first books that my daughter requested (over and over again), and eventually became much-chewed.

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman (Putnam). This one is admittedly quite well-known. But it would be a travesty not to have it as part of a baby's collection, so is worth the risk of duplication. Goodnight Gorilla is a wordless picture book, full of entertaining details to reward repeat readings (of which there are sure to be many).

Baby Love: A Board Book Gift Set (All Fall Down; Clap Hands; Say Goodnight; Tickle, Tickle) by Helen Oxenbury (Little Simon). This set of four tiny board books (about 4" square), complete with a slipcase, was a huge hit with Baby Bookworm. The books only have a few words each, but feature Oxenbury's engaging illustrations of multicultural babies. You can also buy these books in larger board book editions, and those are nice to have, too. But these small editions lend themselves to very early "reading", as well as entertaining efforts to put the books back into the box. 

Also illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, written by Mem Fox (Harcourt), is a must-have for baby's library. Available in traditional hardcover and padded board book editions, this book is a lovely, rhythmic read-aloud, populated with Oxenbury's round-faced, sturdy babies in various settings.

While we're looking at picture books about babies, there are two from Karen Katz's large collection that I think are particularly good choices as baby gifts. Ten Tiny Babies (Margaret K. McElderry) is a bouncy counting book that focuses on many of the things that slightly older babies like to do (dance, run, etc.), and then works its way into being a bedtime book ("all ten babies are fast asleep. Goodnight babies." 

The Babies on the Bus (Henry Holt) features the same basic collection of babies, but puts them on a bus ride for a preschool field trip. The text is a variant on the song The Wheels on the Bus, more applicable to babies (they cry, they fall asleep, etc.). Even the bus driver is a baby (and takes a nap during the ride - not quite sure how that's supposed to work, but kids find it funny). I think it's good to have some books that encourage parents to sing to their children, and this is a fun one. My review.

Another baby-centric book that toddlers will want to read over and over again is Everywhere Babies, written by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Marla Frazee (HMH Books). There's a nice, oversized lap board book edition that is perfect for reading with toddlers. Each page focused on a different thing that babies do (or have done to them), like being kissed, or eating. Within each page are either a series of small vignettes showing different families, or a larger picture showing diverse families in the same setting (e.g. a picture of all the ways babies are carried on a busy sidewalk). My review.

Also illustrated by Marla Frazee, and not to be missed, is All the World by Liz Scanlon Garton (Beach Lane Books). This 2010 Caldecott Honor book is pure poetry, soothing to read, and full of the same detailed illustrations that make Everywhere Babies such fun. It's uplifting, too. Among the best that picture books have to offer, I think. 

And last, but not least, I recommend Bubble Trouble, by Margaret Mahy and Polly Dunbar (Clarion), available in hardcover or board book editions. Children won't really appreciate until they are at least two, but it is SUCH fun to read aloud that it's worth making sure people have a copy early on. My review.  

I could go on all day. You can't go wrong with Sandra Boynton, or Kevin Henkes, or Mo Willems, or the Carl books by Alexandra Day. The DK Peekaboo series is full of fun titles for babies, as is Robert Priddy's First 100 Words (etc.) series. And of course it's always fun for parents to receive copies of classic books that they loved as children, like Where the Wild Things Are

The important thing, I think, is not to be afraid to give people books for their babies. Yes, there's a risk that they might already have the book that you choose. Despite my handy Amazon registry, I still received three or four books that were duplicates. But it's not like I minded. Hmmm... An extra copy of a great book. Do I keep it, in case we lose ours? Or do I give it away to someone I love? A win either way. And I LOVE remembering who each book came from, as we read our favorite titles now. 

When I was younger, I sometimes hesitated to buy books for babies because I wasn't sure if that's what people wanted or expected. But my feeling is this. If you're giving books to people who love books, then they'll be happy to have them (even if one or two might be duplicates with books that they already have). And if you're giving books to people who don't love books, and who aren't thinking of a baby shower or christening as an opportunity to build their baby's library, well then, you can really make a difference.

Buy some of the books that I suggested above. Or buy books that your own children loved, or that you loved as a child. But if you have babies in your life, and you have occasion to buy them gifts, buy them books. Give them a gift that will last a lifetime. 

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).