Board Book Roundup: Baby Horn Boo! 2017 Edition

This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, published seasonally. 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.

"What do birds say on Halloween?" "Trick or TWEET!" Here are some sweet and silly Halloween treats for the youngest listeners.

Bizzy Bear: Spooky House
illus. by Benji Davies
Nosy Crow     10 pp.
7/17     978-0-7636-9327-5     $6.99

Bizzy Bear and a friend walk through a spooky-ish mansion, heading up a creaky staircase, climbing a ladder, and opening a trap door to arrive at a cheery surprise Halloween celebration. Sturdy sliding tabs throughout give visual clues to Bizzy's destination (such as smiling party guests peeking from behind doors) and keep the tone light. The rhyming text, with its "Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around" rhythm, isn't particularly inspired — "Bizzy Bear, Bizzy Bear, spooky night! Bizzy Bear, Bizzy Bear, what a fright!" — but it is catchy, and young Bizzy fans will easily pick it up to recite along.

Peep and Egg: I'm Not Trick-or-Treating
by Laura Gehl; illus. by Joyce Wan
Farrar     34 pp.
8/17     978-0-374-30543-7    $7.99

In this board-book adaptation of the chicks' second outing, Peep and Egg (Peep and Egg: I'm Not Hatching!) argue over their Halloween-night plans. Peep is all set to go trick-or-treating, but stubborn Egg is not going: "Too scary." Peep tries to get Egg into the spirit with a proposed itinerary and a series of groaner monster-themed jokes, then finally pulls the oldest trick in the book — "Okay, I'll see ya later...I'm sure you'll be ready next year" — and Egg, not wanting to be left behind, takes off running after Peep. The thick-lined, expressive illustrations, muted Halloween-y palette, and effective panels play up the text's humor.

Halloween ABC
illus. by Jannie Ho
Nosy Crow     28 pp.
7/17     978-0-7636-9527-9     $6.99

Apple bobbing, bats, cauldron, dark... Each letter of the alphabet, in upper- and lowercase, is here matched with a spooky object or concept. The pairings of most entries work well (of course G is for "ghost") while others are a bit of a stretch (X is for "extra treats"? And what do "underpants" have to do with Halloween?). Bold, cartoon-like digital illustrations showing children in costumes and friendly-looking monsters are more silly than scary.

I Love You, Little Pumpkin [Little Peek Books]
by Sandra Magsamen; illus. by the author
Cartwheel/Scholastic     12 pp.
6/17     978-1-338-11085-2     $7.99

A plush jack-o'-lantern on the cover sets the tone for this short 'n' sweet board book illustrated with homey, rounded, quilted-looking shapes. Each spread presents a question from the offstage narrator (/adult reader) facing a large flap that provides the answer: a different costumed child and a message of endearment. "Who's peeking out from behind that door?" "It's my little kitty, whom I adore!" The final flap lifts to reveal a pumpkin shape with a mirror in its center, casting the toddler listener as the titular "little pumpkin."

Five Little Pumpkins [Fingers & Toes Nursery Rhyme Books]
by Natalie Marshall
Cartwheel/Scholastic     14 pp.
7/17     978-1-338-09117-5     $6.99

Rhyming text and large, sturdy tabs help preschoolers count to five: "Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate. The first one says, 'OH MY! It's getting LATE!'" Cut-paper-looking illustrations highlight the bright pumpkins against soft blue-and-purple backgrounds and give each a goofy, expressive jack-o'-lantern face. Smiling bats and insects add a slight visual narrative to follow, and every spread contains a suggestion or two for simple gestures to accompany the rhythmic text.

Hedgehugs: Autumn Hide-and-Squeak
by Steve Wilson and Lucy Tapper
Holt     28 pp.
9/17     978-1-250-12790-7     $7.99

Hedgehog friends Horace and Hattie (Hedgehugs, Hedgehugs and the Hattiepillar) watch leaves being blown from trees on a windy fall day, and the sight makes Hattie sad. But the now-bare trees reveal a "squeaky" new friend (a bat) and Hattie is cheered as the three play hide-and-seek. When it's time for the bat to return to his family, Horace comes up with a plan that will keep the friends together and re-decorate the trees. Textured digital illustrations in an autumnal palette emphasize the season's beauty and the friends' closeness.

Katie Bircher

Katie Bircher is agency assistant at the new Sara Crowe Literary. She spent nine years as an editor and staff reviewer for The Horn Book’s publications and has over seven years of experience as an indie bookseller specializing in children’s and YA literature. She holds an MA in children’s literature from Simmons University.

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