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Board Book Roundup: Winter 2017 Edition: Bedtime Books

This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine.

capucilli_good night, my darling babyGood Night, My Darling Baby
by Alyssa Satin Capucilli; illus. by Annie Bach [New Books for Newborns]
Little Simon     16 pp.
3/17     978-1-4814-8119-9     $7.99

“Daddy cow sang a good-night tune / to his baby calf beneath the crescent moon, / ‘Moo, moo, moo, moo… / Sweet dreams, my darling baby,'” begins this barnyard lullaby. Other animal mothers and fathers soothe their babies to sleep around the farm, with animal sounds and the names of baby animals incorporated naturally into the text. The very last baby — a human child, gender unspecified — sleeps under a mobile comprised of a plush moon, star, and each of the featured animals. The infant’s (mixed-race) parents gaze on lovingly, the full moon and the barn visible through the nursery window. The rhymes don’t always scan perfectly, but the refrain is soothing. Soft illustrations show the sleepy creatures snuggled up with backgrounds of deep purples, blues, and greens.

huang_twinkle, twinkle, little starTwinkle, Twinkle, Little Star [Sing Along with Me!]
illus. by Yu-hsuan Huang
Nosy Crow     10 pp.
2/17     978-0-7636-9241-4     $8.99

The familiar lullaby is accompanied by a warm visual narrative in Huang’s illustrations. Two cuddly-looking anthropomorphized animal friends — a bunny and a bear — ride bikes through their neighborhood to the park at dusk, appreciating a shooting star and the wildlife they see along the way. They enjoy music and a cookout by a campfire, then go to sleep in their cozy tent. There’s much to spot in the detailed, sunset-hued pictures. Five sliders and wheels are well placed to enhance the story, but their chunky, sturdy design can make them frustratingly difficult to move. A QR code at the front of the book offers a free download of the song.

patricelli_nighty-nightNighty-Night
by Leslie Patricelli
Candlewick     28 pp.
1/17     978-0-7636-7932-3     $6.99

Patricelli’s board-book baby star returns in a sweet and funny going-to-bed book. One or two simple phrases per spread take us through Baby’s nighttime routine: dinner, a bath (but first: “Bye-bye, pants. / Naked dance!”), tooth- and hair-brushing (both singular), PJs, a bedtime story, a lullaby, hugs and kisses. Toddlers and parents alike will recognize and giggle at the irrepressible kiddo’s bedtime shenanigans. Patricelli’s signature catchy text and heavily outlined, expressive acrylic illustrations make for an engaging (and energetic — you’ve been warned!) addition to the bedtime-book canon.

rinker_goodnight, goodnight, construction siteGoodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
by Sherri Duskey Rinker; illus. by Tom Lichtenheld
Chronicle     32 pp.
2/17     978-1-4521-1173-5     $7.99

The sun is setting over a construction site, and it’s time for the hardworking (animate) vehicles to rest. Rhyming text introduces each truck with an overview of the specialized tasks it has performed during the busy day, then settles the vehicle down with a personalized nighttime routine and goodnight: “Shh…goodnight, Excavator, goodnight.” With its lulling pattern and copious truck details, the text works equally well as bedtime story and vehicle book. A mix of sizes, shapes, perspectives, and text placement effectively paces the vivid, personality-filled illustrations. This small-sized board-book adaptation of the popular picture book is perhaps just a bit too small: the type is teeny, and the scaled-down vehicles and construction-site views lose some of their oomph.

shaw_lullaby farmLullaby Farm
by Stephanie Shaw; illus. by Rebecca Harry
Tiger Tales     24 pp.
3/17     978-1-68010-512-4     $8.99

Much like Good Night, My Darling Baby, this is an all-around-the-farm bedtime book. “Mama dog rounds up / each black-and-white pup. / Yawning and stretching, / they beg to stay up.” Unbeknownst to the mama dog, one wide-awake puppy sneaks off to make a lap of the farm and the surrounding fields as drowsy sheep, geese, mice, doves, pigs, chickens, horses, and cows drift off to sleep. Finally, back at the doghouse, the tuckered-out pup curls up with its mother and litter-mates. Impressionistic paintings in a soft pastel palette detail the fuzzy animals and moonlit landscapes.

twinkle, twinkle, little babyTwinkle, Twinkle, Little Baby! [To Baby, with Love]
illus. by Sarah Ward
Tiger Tales     14 pp.
3/17     978-1-68010-515-5     $9.99

Friendly illustrations show a veritable zoo of stuffed animals (the usual bedtime suspects of bear, puppy, and bunny, plus a lion, giraffe, elephant, penguin, and mouse) getting ready for bed, accompanied by modified “Twinkle, Twinkle” lyrics. After their nighttime routine, the friends pile into a cozy bed, Ten in a Bed–style: “Twinkle, twinkle, little one. / Snuggle up — now day is done.” Die-cut star shapes and glitter don’t add much to the proceedings, but young listeners won’t mind.

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Katie Bircher About Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher, associate editor at The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MA in children's literature from Simmons College. She served as chair of the 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committee. Follow Katie on Twitter @lyraelle.

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