Board Books

Board Books, Chronicle Books, Contemporary Books, 0 - 2 years

Hide and Seek

Words & Illustration by Taro Gomi

Published by Chronicle Books

Another fantastic board book from Japanese Author-Illustrator Taro Gomi. Playful and absurd, this seek and find book is full of ultimate cuteness that only the Japanese can pull off. I love this book! Gomi's illustrations are colourful and all of the animals are elegantly captured with a soft paint effect.  

Children will delight in the challenge of finding objects hidden in plain sight and will laugh at the absurdity of some of the illustrations. Each page has one additional animal so as well as finding hidden objects, readers can practice their counting. 

A toothbrush in a crocodile's grin, a cap on a bird's head, and hearts on a butterfly's wings. A small illustration of the hidden object is shown on the left hand side of the page. This clue or preview will assist younger readers to be able to read this book on their own during playtime. This book will challenge most 18 month olds so is best suited to children over 18 months.

If you like the look of this book, I have previously reviewed Gomi's Peekaboo - a fun and interactive board book that remains a strong favourite in our house. 

0 - 2 years, Board Books, Macmillan Children's Book

Orange Pear Apple Bear

Words and Illustration by Emily Gravett

Published by Macmillan Children's Books

Emily Gravett has perfected simplicity with this delicious board book for babies. 

Simple, funny and playful. The four words in the title are rearranged and repeated to create a playful series of sweet illustrations that depict an orange, pear, apple and bear. The order and punctuation of the words change the meaning depicted on each page of the book. Imagination is ripe with the changing appearance of the cuddly bear and his lively and mischievous antics with his soon-to-be devoured lunch. The varied combinations and accompanying illustrations make this book a great primer for the introduction of colours, shapes and simple language.

The book's illustrations are perfectly minimalist. Softly outlined sketches are filled with the muted watercolours of orange, green and brown and a crisp white background makes each of the illustrations stand out. 

Using only five words (orange, pear, apple, bear and there), the repetition and rhyming of these words creates an enchanting tempo and spoken rhythm. 

This book is a little surreal and really funny! It is wonderful to find a board book for babies that is just as amusing for adults and children alike. To enliven the imagination of your little one, this book will certainly bear fruit! (Sorry about the pun.) 

0 - 2 years, Board Books, Gibbs Smith

The Secret Garden

Words by Jennifer Adams

Illustration by Alison Oliver

Published by Gibbs Smith

'Little Miss Burnett: A Babylit Flower Primer: The Secret Garden' is a gorgeous board book that introduces flowers and colours to children using quotes from Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic novel 'The Secret Garden.' The book is simple, fun and colourful and is a pretty yet sturdy addition to any little library.

Each spread of the book is dedicated to a different springtime flower such as the columbine, daffodil or iris. One page of the spread has an illustration of a flower with a text label and the opposite page is a hand drawn pattern that contains a quote from the original text. Quotes examples are "crocuses burst into purple", "th' very little ones are snowdrops", "they'll look like a bed o' blue an' white butterflies", "iris rose out of the grass in sheaves". 

When reading 'The Secret Garden' from cover to cover, the quotes do not make much sense outside the context of the original text and are at times a little awkward ("th' woman in th' shop threw in a packet o' poppy seeds"). While the meaning of each quote may be lost on the young readers, most parents will appreciate this tribute to the classic text. Young readers will enjoy the colourful illustrations, trying to identify the different flowers and finding the hidden details contained within the beautiful patterns such as spider's webs, birds, keys, snails and watering cans.   

While I was enchanted by Alison Oliver's charming hand drawn illustrations, I have to admit that I was disappointed that this book does not introduce The Secret Garden's main character Mary Lennox or provide a basic plot outline. I think that other Babylit books such as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Jungle Book are more successful and introduce new words from the vocabulary of the original books or provide an introduction to the great characters and stories contained within these literary classics. I will be reviewing Babylit's The Jungle Book Playset in a future review. 

With this said, this exquisite board book is the prettiest introduction to flowers that I have seen and it is refreshing to find a series of educational board books with substance. (Thank you Jennifer!) The Babylit series is a wonderful way for literature loving parents to be able to share the world of classic literature with their child. There is over 18 books in the series (Emma and Treasure Island are about to be released) and each board book is based on a classic novel by great authors such as Lewis Carroll, Leo Tolstoy, Jane Austen and Rudyard Kipling; and is combined with an educational theme such as counting, colours, sounds, animals and the spanish language. 

For any book loving parents, The Secret Garden (or any book from the Babylit series) will make a wonderful gift for a new baby as their first introduction in to the wonderful world of literature.  

Reviewed by Georgia White

3 years +, Big Picture Press, Board Books

Little Tree

Illustration by Jenny Bowers

Words by Rachel Williams

Published by Big Picture Press

It is official. This is the most beautiful board book. It is so refreshing to find a board book with sophisticated and elegant illustrations targeting young learners. I cannot recommend this book more highly. 

'Little Tree' follows the growth of a little seed throughout the year as it grows to become a tree and change with the seasons. A mature tree is shown on the left of every spread and becomes the anchor point for each new illustration. The little tree is shown in the same location on the right side of every new illustration, however it grows and changes with each new season. 

Similar to other non-fiction books that I have reviewed like Saisons and Nature's Day, this book highlights the cyclical nature of the seasons. With each turn of the page the reader is able to see how the tree has grown. Every double spread is a different kind of colourful and is filled with a stunning array of gorgeous details particular to each new season. The illustrations are teamed with a gentle rhyming text that summarises the change of the season and focuses the young reader's attention to the key changes of the little pear tree. 

This charming board book has over 20 flaps. Each flap within the illustration hides a number of gorgeous details within each page such as an beetle, rain, nest, cocoon, spider, antlers, worm, owl, seed. As a non-fiction text, the flaps work to label the hidden items and educate the reader on the distinct features of each new season. I love that one flap is located over the same hollow within the mature tree trunk on every page. Bowers uses this sweet detail to demonstrate the changing use of this hollow as the seasons change - a birds nest with eggs and then chicks in spring, a bird roost in summer, an acorn store for a squirrel in autumn and a home for a mouse and insects in the winter. 

Illustrations are overlaid blocks of colour and the elegant flaps become an additional block allowing each flap to be beautifully incorporated in to the illustration of each page. This is another brilliant publication from Big Picture Press and a beautiful and interactive book for the little ones in your life. 

Reviewed by Georgia White

Board Books, Contemporary Books, 0 - 2 years, Chronicle Books

Peekaboo!

Words & Illustration by Taro Gomi

Published by Chronicle Books

My little one loves to play peekaboo and this beautifully illustrated board book by the Japanese author & illustrator has become a new favourite in our home. With minimal text, each page is a different peekaboo mask with fun characters including a robot, cat, bear and frog. This book is really good fun!

Reviewed by Georgia White