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Board Book Roundup: Spring 2017 Edition

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.

biggs_tiny town i'm a librarianTinyville Town: I’m a Librarian [Tinyville Town]
by Brian Biggs
Abrams Appleseed    24 pp.
3/17    ISBN 978-1-4197-2322-3    $7.95

This Tinyville Town entry features a purple-bow-tie-clad male librarian who appears to have a same-sex partner (ahem — anyone we know?) answering questions on his way to work (“Barbershop?” “Thataway”) and helping young library patron Owen track down books about elephants. We get a mini-tour of the library and come away with the basic idea of what a helpful, friendly librarian does during the day — and after work (read books, natch). Biggs’s trademark eye-pleasing illustrations are cheery and colorful.

brantz_feminist babyFeminist Baby
by Loryn Brantz
Disney-Hyperion    24 pp.
3/17    ISBN 978-148477858-6    $12.99

Brantz’s grrl-power board book for the littlest audiences (well, mainly for their parents) features a spirited tot who loves both pink and blue, who plays with cars and dolls, etc. (Why seeing her bare bum on the second spread says “feminist” I’m not sure, but babies do think it’s hilarious to take their diapers off.) Cartoonish illustrations feature baby-blue and baby-pink, “gender-neutral” yellow, plus puke-green (“sometimes she’ll throw up on you”) and other hues, with a bold black all-caps font punctuating the patriarchy-smashing rhymes: “Feminist baby is as smart as she seems / Feminist baby can be whatever she dreams.” Well-behaved babies seldom make history.

dc comics_dc super friends girl powerDC Super Friends: Girl Power!
DC Comics   16 pp.
1/17    ISBN 978-0-374-30397-6    $10.99

Gotham City villains Catwoman and Cheetah steal a giant ruby. Who will stop them and retrieve the loot? Batgirl, Hawkgirl, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman, with some assistance from their male counterparts — but the super women really are the ones in charge (their costumes, too, are somewhat less ridiculous than in the past; Wonder Woman still has some cleavage, but she’s got on shorts instead of Underoos). Large, thick pages; lift-the-flaps; and tabs showing each superhero and supervillain add to the appeal for the superhero-fan board book set.

ferri_brick by brickBrick by Brick
by Giuliano Ferri
Minedition    24 pp.
4/16    ISBN 978-988-8341-18-4    $12.99

A mouse removes a brick from the wall shown on the cover of this wordless book (done with a die-cut) to reveal two flowers. He tries to pick one, and another brick falls — revealing a glimpse of blue sky and green grass on the other side of the wall. The mouse and its animal friends begin dismantling the wall, brick by brick — to reveal another community of animals on the other side. The two groups stare somewhat blankly at each other, perhaps in confusion and even some trepidation…but their solution is a balm for our times: “Let’s build bridges instead of walls,” says the back-cover copy. Amen to that.

jullien_before & afterBefore & After
by Jean Jullien
Phaidon    38 pp.
3/17    ISBN 978-0-7148-7408-1    $12.95

This opposites concept book begins with two people’s round bellies touching: “Before.” Turn the page to see a smiling toddler in the arms of one of the adults: “After.” The before-and-after-pair pattern continues in creative ways, and occasionally it breaks, entertainingly, to incorporate additional time spans: “Before, During, After” (on a roller coaster), “Before, After, Way After” (a bad haircut). The digitally painted brush and ink illustrations are spare and witty.

powers_i want to be a readerI Want to Be a Reader!
by Mark Powers; illus. by Maria Montag
Blue Manatee    16 pp.
3/17    ISBN 978-1-936669-55-4    $7.99

At the start of the book, a little boy wishes he could read; the illustration shows him scowling and holding his book upside down. By the end he realizes, in a gently meta twist, he has read a whole book — this one. Comfortably cluttered illustrations give new readers and pre-readers lots of things to look at and look for, including the boy’s sassy pet cat who’s also learning to read.

seeger_bear in the chairDog and Bear: Bear in the Chair
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Roaring Brook/Porter     20 pp.
2/17    ISBN 978-1-62672-497-6    $5.99

 

 

 

seeger_dog changes his nameDog and Bear: Dog Changes His Name
by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Roaring Brook/Porter     20 pp.
2/17    ISBN 978-1-62672-498-3    $5.99

Fans of Seeger’s Dog and Bear picture books will enjoy these small board book adaptations of two of the tales from Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories. Chair finds Bear sitting on a high chair and too frightened to come down; Dog has the solution. In Name, the dachshund is bored with his name and tries to make a new one stick. The three stories from the original picture book worked beautifully together. The individual board books, too, work well on their own, but they’re better together (e.g., the joke in Name about Bear sliding down Dog’s back makes most sense if you’ve already read Chair).

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Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She is a current member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.

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Comments

  1. Elissa! Thank you so much for including my “I Want to Be a Reader!” board book in this roundup. Super appreciate the support!

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