Board Books for Holiday Travel

It's that time of year when families with children board planes, trains, and automobiles for holiday travel — and sometimes lugging their favorite full-size picture books can be a strain. That's when board book editions of those picture books come in handy. In Rachel G. Payne’s excellent board book round up in the November/December issue of The Horn Book Magazine, she brought readers’ attention to a new board book edition of John Steptoe’s classic Baby Says. Here's a list of some other board books adapted from picture books, recently published, along with Horn Book reviews of the originals [NB: the board book editions themselves were not here evaluated].

Happy traveling, and happy holidays!

Hap-pea All Year by Keith Baker (Little Simon)

"Hap-pea January! Let's get going. / Grab your mittens — hooray, it's snowing!" Baker's beloved all-pea cast (Little Green Peas, etc.) introduces the months of the year. In each detail-filled, digitally rendered spread, jumbo-size letters spell out the name of the featured month, while the diminutive performers humorously model appropriate behavior for that month. Veggies this sweet make the year fly by.

Egg by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow)

Four different pastel-colored eggs occupy their own quadrants of the page. The drama begins when three little chicks hatch, and the fourth egg...waits. What hatches from the fourth egg is not another chick. Will the other three reject the foundling, or embrace it? Henkes taps into the deepest emotions of preschoolers with the simplest of stories and a surfeit of humor.

Now I’m Big! by Karen Katz (Little Simon)

This is a charming book highlighting the differences between big kids and babies, and all the things that older kids can now do that they couldn't do before: drinking from a cup, reading a book, helping a new sibling, and more. Colorful watercolor and gouache illustrations of happy babies and toddlers will bring a smile to little listeners' (and adult readers') faces.

Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka (Cartwheel/Scholastic)

In just thirty-four words and companion illustrations, Raschka tells a story of the discovery of friendship and the joys and insecurities that go along with reaching out. An African American boy calls "Yo"' to a white boy who is shyly edging off his page. Their terse, but emotionally loaded, exchange continues as the shy boy admits to having no friends and the more outgoing child offers friendship. Raschka exhibits an appreciation of the rhythms of both language and human exchange in his deceptively simple story.

Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead; illus. by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook)

Bear wants to share a story, but his friends are busy preparing for winter. Come spring, he's forgotten his story! With some prompting from the others, Bear begins: "It was almost winter and Bear was getting sleepy" — a reprise of the book's first line. This perfectly cyclical, quietly entrancing book features scenes of sleepy, soft-edged creatures floating on imagination-freeing white.

They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki (Abrams Appleseed)

A girl considers the wondrousness of the world around her, prompted by the colors she encounters throughout her day. The text moves effortlessly between prosaic description and poetic contemplation, making of color something both familiar and extraordinary. Tamaki's rich acrylic paintings combine scratchy ink line work with watery brushstrokes, establishing a visual tension that echoes this paradoxical sense of things being just at hand yet frequently astonishing.

Ninja, Ninja, Never Stop! by Todd Tuell; illus. by Tad Carpenter (Abrams Appleseed)

Little Ninja kicks, chops, jumps, and dodges obstacles ("Ninja tiptoe, / Ninja stalk. / Granny kisses / Ninja block") around the house. He uses his special sneak-attack skills to take his brother's balloon and cookie, and knocks down his block castle. When little bro pulls his own move, a ninja duo is born. Eye-catching graphic illustrations pair well with the energetic rhymes.

Press Here by Hervé Tullet (Handprint/Chronicle)

Tullet's ingenious interactive book begins with a yellow circle. On the next spread, the same dot appears: "Press here and turn the page"; a second yellow dot arrives on the following page. Pressing, tilting, blowing, and clapping further transform the dots. The simplicity of Tullet's presentation illuminates picture books' tactile and kinetic aspect, making the old form seem the height of postmodernism.

Babies Can Sleep Anywhere by Lisa Wheeler (Abrams Appleseed)

Quiet, soothing rhymes describe where and how specific animals sleep ("Cougars curl up in a lair"); each verse ends with the refrain "but babies can sleep anywhere" and a picture of a human baby asleep on a bicycle seat, in a highchair, etc. Restful (almost everyone's eyes are closed), color-saturated illustrations feature a good variety of animals and, among the humans, skin tones and types of families.

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague (Blue Sky)

"Does a dinosaur stomp his feet on the floor" when Papa and Mama announce that it's bedtime? No, dinosaur children are perfectly behaved when they say good night. Readers, however, will recognize the temper tantrum and stalling antics described in this rhyming bedtime story. The lively perspectives in the colorful full-bleed illustrations show different kinds of dinosaurs responding to their human parents.


Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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