Board Book Roundup: Spring 2014 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.

baker_gallina grandeLa gallina grande / Big Fat Hen
by Keith Baker; translated by Carlos E. Calvo
Houghton     30 pp.
4/14     978-0-544-17398-9     $4.99

Baker’s Big Fat Hen debuted as a generously sized picture book in 1994. The popularity of the original was reinforced in 1997 with a board book edition, and the book finds new life in this Spanish/English bilingual board edition. It is unfortunate that both board versions employ a greatly reduced trim size; Baker’s brightly hued acrylic illustrations are still effective but somewhat less impressive on this smaller scale. Calvo’s translation of the traditional rhyme is fluid and rhythmic, although the ocho/bizcocho couplet and the “big fat hen” page do not exactly match their illustrations. Still, this is a valuable addition to the bilingual bookshelves.

by Mary Brigid Barrett; illus. by LeUyen Pham
Candlewick     16 pp.
1/14    978-0-7636-4358-4    $6.99

Don’t be fooled by the title: this is not an illustrated version of the ubiquitous nursery rhyme. Barrett takes the rhyme out of the baker’s shop and into the life of a toddler, inviting youngsters to pat puddings and puddles, acorns and oak trees, and finally parents and pillows. The rhyming text is complemented by Pham’s joyful illustrations, which feature a multi-ethnic cast of smiling young explorers. Additional book in the series: All Fall Down.

braun_lift the flapWho Can Swim?
by Sebastien Braun
Candlewick    14 pp.
3/14    978-0-7636-6752-8    $6.99

For animal-loving readers and listeners looking for a little variety, Braun moves beyond the usual parade of pets and livestock. In this stylishly illustrated offering, the repeated question, “Who can swim?” is answered as flaps lift to reveal not just fish, but also penguins, polar bears, seals, and whales. The final flap hides a happy toddler, complete with red floaties, representing for the young listener that “You can swim,” too.

huneck_sally at the farmSally at the Farm
by Stephen Huneck
Abrams Appleseed     20 pp.
3/14    978-1-4197-1030-8    $7.95



huneck_sally in the sandSally in the Sand
by Stephen Huneck
Abrams Appleseed    20 pp.
3/14    978-1-4197-1029-2    $7.95

Huneck first introduced readers to his big black Lab, Sally, and his distinctive artistic style in a series of picture books in the early 2000s. Happily, Sally is back in these adaptations of two of her early adventures (Sally Goes to the Farm, 2002; Sally Goes to the Beach, 2000). Sally is, for the most part, an endearingly realistic dog who sniffs, licks, digs, swims, and cleans her plate. Using a subdued palette that combines color washes and woodcut prints, Huneck has created a friendly and folksy landscape for young dog lovers to enjoy alongside Sally.

lin_bringing in the new yearBringing In the New Year
by Grace Lin
Knopf    28 pp.
12/13    978-0-385-75365-4    $6.99

Originally published as a picture book in 2008, Lin’s introduction to the traditional celebration of the Lunar New Year is now available as a board book. The gatefold of the waking dragon featured in the picture book is missing in the new format, as are the decorated end pages, but the story of welcoming the new year retains all its charm and vitality. The illustrations have a festive energy that mirrors the family’s building excitement. Like the picture book, the board book closes with useful back matter for young readers or listeners.

siminovich_you are my baby gardenYou Are My Baby: Garden [Petit Collage]
by Lorena Siminovich
Chronicle     12 pp.
3/14    978-1-4521-2649-4     $8.99



siminovich_you are my baby oceanYou Are My Baby: Ocean [Petit Collage]
by Lorena Siminovich
Chronicle     12 pp.
3/14     978-1-4521-2650-0     $8.99

Continuing the series reviewed in the fall 2013 roundup, Siminovich brings her “book within a book” concept to two new environments. The use of specialized terms for several of the babies (hatchling, spiderling, calf, kit) adds a vocabulary-building element to the books. Never fear; this educational element doesn’t detract from the fun of mixing and matching the babies with their grown-ups.

zuckerman_creature colorsCreature: Colors
by Andrew Zuckerman
Chronicle    20 pp.
3/14     978-1-4521-1668-6     $7.99

Vivid photographs and generous white space are the hallmarks of this concept book. Zuckerman introduces ten colors and ten creatures with seeming simplicity. His layouts, however, feature animals off center, in profile, walking on and flying off the pages. These unexpected configurations add an appealing visual sophistication. Three additional books are planned for the series: Creature: Numbers, Creature: Baby Animals and Creature: Sounds.
Viki Ash
Viki Ash is coordinator of children’s services at the San Antonio Public Library. She has taught children’s literature and library programming at the School of Library and Information Studies, Texas Woman’s University, and has served on ALSC’s Newbery, Caldecott, Wilder, and Sibert committees.

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