From The Guide: Board Book Transformations

baker_no two alikeIn his article “Hijacking the Pumpkin Coach” (beginning on page 14), Gregory Maguire starts with a contemplation on the meaning of the word transformations, as well as some useful near-synonyms, among them “shape-changers” and “old wine in new skins.” In keeping with this theme, here are some recent Horn Book Guide–recommended examples of popular or classic picture books repackaged, redesigned, and transformed into board books for the littlest (pre-)readers.

—Katrina Hedeen
Associate Editor, The Horn Book Guide

Baker, Keith No Two Alike
36 pp.     Little Simon     2014     ISBN 978-1-4814-1502-6

PS New ed. (2011, Simon/Beach Lane). In a thoughtfully structured board book, two red birds explore a snowy landscape, while a rhyming text draws listeners into looking carefully at the pictures to find similarities and differences between things. The digitally rendered illustrations are in muted blues and greens, with the bright birds and other animals lending their colors and providing more items for children to spot.

Brown, Margaret Wise Goodnight Moon / Buenas noches, luna
32 pp.     HarperCollins/Rayo     2014     ISBN 978-0-06-236791-4

PS New ed. (2002). Translated by Teresa Mlawer. Illustrated by Clement Hurd. Like the original English, the Spanish text in this bilingual edition has just the right tone for reading aloud to infants and toddlers. And thankfully, this board book doesn’t cut any of the original illustrations or words.

Henkes, Kevin Little White Rabbit
32 pp.     Greenwillow     2014     ISBN 978-0-06-231409-3

PS New ed. (2011). Henkes’s lovely story of a rabbit curious about the wide world is reissued as a small, square board book. The clear, simple illustrations in a springtime palette are reproduced well in the smaller trim size, and the repetitive, rhythmic text suits a board-book audience.

Hutchins, Pat Titch
32 pp.     Little Simon     2015     ISBN 978-1-4814-3027-2

PS New ed. (1971, Macmillan). “Titch was little. / His sister Mary was a bit bigger. / And his brother Pete was a lot bigger.” Hutchins’s understated, childlike story about a family’s littlest member is here presented in a small, vertically rectangular board book. The original’s blend of spare text with bright, uncomplicated illustrations makes the classic picture book perfect material for the new format.

Savage, Stephen Little Tug
32 pp.     Roaring Brook/Porter     2015      ISBN 978-1-62672-124-1

PS New ed. (2012). Little Tug isn’t the tallest, fastest, or biggest boat in the harbor, but he’s very helpful when the other boats need a push, pull, or tow. Savage’s illustrations give the boats distinct personalities. Tug’s busy day will resonate with toddlers who also spend their days measuring up, helping out, and thoroughly exhausting themselves; the audience will appreciate this sturdy new edition sized to their hands.

Walsh, Ellen Stoll Balancing Act
32 pp.     Little Simon     2015     ISBN 978-1-4814-2051-8

PS New ed. (2010, Simon/Beach Lane). Two mice make a seesaw. With one mouse on each end, it balances perfectly. But along come a salamander, two frogs, etc. With a lively yet minimal text, Walsh tells a dynamic story while introducing some basic science suited to slightly older tots. Her cut-and-torn-paper collages impressively balance composition, color, and narrative content; no impact is lost in this nicely repackaged board-book edition.

Wells, Rosemary A Visit to Dr. Duck
30 pp.     Candlewick     2014     ISBN 978-0-7636-7229-4

PS New ed. (2000). Little guinea pig Felix eats too many “chocolate blimpies” and doesn’t feel well the next day. His mama tries chamomile tea and fresh air; finally, she takes him to see Dr. Duck. The title of this board-book edition of the picture book originally titled Felix Feels Better puts the focus on Felix’s nervousness about going to the doctor. Wells’s comforting tone and warm illustrations will reassure little patients.

Willems, Mo Who Flies, Cat the Cat?
22 pp.     HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray     2014     ISBN 978-0-06-230652-4

Willems, Mo Who Sleeps, Cat the Cat?
22 pp.     HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray     2014     ISBN 978-0-06-230655-5

PS New ed. (2010). Cat the Cat series. These board-book versions of Willems’s entertaining easy readers Let’s Say Hi to Friends Who Fly! (rev. 5/10) and Time to Sleep, Sheep the Sheep! (rev. 7/10), with slightly modified texts, may work even better for toddlers, with their simple texts (both in and outside of speech bubbles) and spare, eye-pleasing illustrations. It’s pure, unabated silliness, but all confined to Cat the Cat’s small, cozy world.

From the May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine. These reviews are from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please click here.
Horn Book
Horn Book

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more