31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Two – 2017 Board Book Reprints and Adaptations
All right, class. Let’s define our terms. This year board books fell into three distinct categories. First, there are the original publications, such as you might find on yesterday’s 2017 Board Books list. Then there are reprints. These are books that were published originally as board books but went out of print at some point. Finally, there are adaptations. These are titles that started life as hardcover picture books and then were adapted into board books in time. Often such adaptations are painful. The bulk of the text may be slashed or sometimes, far worse, not touched at all (see: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs). Other times scrunching the books into a smaller format cuts off the art in unpleasant ways.
Today, I celebrate the re-release of the old and the reformatting of the new. There were lots of possible titles on this list, but these are the books that, as far as I can tell, do the job right. One quick note: While I could have cracked down and found the actual board book covers, I often decided to just use the original hardcover ones instead. Because I am lazy.
Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton
They re-released a whole slew of Little Pookie board books in 2017, but you can keep your cheap Pookie sequels. As far as I’m concerned the first one is the tippy-top best of the lot and should be appreciated and enjoyed by one and all. Now the original Pookie books were all set against a white background. Classy, but problematic. After all, board books aren’t exactly renowned for their cleanliness. These new Pookies are colorful affairs and nothing is lost in translation. Fantabulous.
Aaaaaand . . . . that was the only reprint I found in 2017. Let’s go to the next category:
ABeCedarios: Mexican Folk Art ABCs in English and Spanish by Cynthia Weill and K.B. Basseches, art by Moises and Armando Jimenez
When ABeCedarios was originally published it was a similar size to the new board book version, but hardcover. This reformatting reminded me so much of the original books that initially I had slotted this book in the “Reprints” rather than “Adaptations” category. Hopefully in its new version it’ll gain a bit more attention.
Birds by Kevin Henkes, ill. Laura Dronzek
A surprising choice for a board book adaptation, but not necessarily a bad one. Thanks to the simplicity of the art the transplanting from one format to another is seamless. But why do it? Is it too sophisticated for the smallest of kids? Not necessarily. Remember, yesterday I split my board book categories into ankle biters and toddlers. Toddlers could get something out of this book. I don’t see them necessarily requesting it over and over again, but why not? It is quite gorgeous.
Cat Nap by Toni Yuly
Sometimes a book is adapted into the board book format and you’re mildly surprised it wasn’t that way from the start. As with Birds you have simple images that convert readily, and identifiable characters. Add in the big, bold, black lines and you’ve got yourself a winner.
The Caterpillar and the Polliwog by Jack Kent
Wow! And then you have the adaptations from OLD picture books. Originally published in what I believe to be 1982, my first encounter with this book came when I used to show the old Weston Woods version of it in my library. It never in a million years would have occurred to me to board book-ify the story, but it’s not bad. In a preschool setting where the youngest kids are encouraged to think about metamorphosis, it’s worth having on hand.
Fortunately by Remy Charlip
Of course Jack Kent has nothing on Charlip? This 1964 (you read that right) classic was one of my go-to storytime titles for years and years and years. I’m sorry but that moment when it looks like he’s going to be impaled on the pitchfork may well be one of the greatest moments in picture book history. Kids go WILD when you get to that part. And then for the threat after that to be sharks? Brilliant! So I support this adaptation. Anything that keeps this book in print for as long as humanly possible, I am for.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, ill. Tom Lichtenheld
Oh sure. I mean, if they could do it to Goodnight, Moon then this was jut the logical next step. Interestingly I wouldn’t support a similar adaptation for its 2017 sequel (Mighty, Mighty Construction Site) but that’s just because this first book was squarely bedtime fare.
Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins
Odd. Why am I having such a hard time thinking up Lucy Cousin board books that don’t star Maisy? There must be loads out there, but this is the only one I’m able to pull from my brain at the moment. Little wonder since it’s a great adaptation. Her art just pops in a highly appealing way. Look at those thick paints! Look at those colors! Resist if you dare.
Hug Machine by Scott Campbell
So clearly I’m biased in including this one. I absolutely adored the original book, so that could be clouding my judgement when it comes to whether or not it should find new life in a board book body. But what if, when you read it to a child on your lap, you hugged them every time he hugged something else? Could be adorable. And who am I to say no to that little face?
Tool Book by Gail Gibbons
I have a 3-year-old child. My child is a tool fiend. So to this I say yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes.
The 12 Days of Christmas by Jane Cabrera
It always struck me that Jane Cabrera was a bit of a genius. Why is it that she’s the only one who figured out that librarians rely desperately on singing public domain children’s songs and need books to accompany their vocals? This probably isn’t the first 12 Days of Christmas book you’ve ever encountered, but it might be the first one you’ve seen in board book form. It was for me anyway. A good match.
Watch Out! A Giant! by Eric Carle
Huh. With its 1978 publication date I guess it’s not all that surprising that this turned out to be my first encounter with this old Carle title. It’s pretty ahead of its time, though. Lots of die-cuts to play with that work in a slightly different way than they would have in a paper version of the same tale. Who knew I’d find another Eric Carle book to love this late in life? Anything is possible!
Interested in the other lists of the month? Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:
December 1 – Board Books
December 2 – Board Book Reprints and Adaptations
December 3 – Wordless Picture Books
December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds
December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books
December 6 – Alphabet Books
December 7 – Funny Picture Books
December 8 – CaldeNotts
December 9 – Picture Book Reprints
December 10 – Math Picture Books
December 11 – Bilingual Books
December 12 – Translated Picture Books
December 13 – Books with a Message
December 14 – Fabulous Photography
December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales
December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year
December 17 – Poetry Books
December 18 – Easy Books
December 19 – Early Chapter Books
December 20 – Comics for Kids
December 21 – Older Funny Books
December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction
December 23 – American History
December 24 – Science & Nature Books
December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Picture Books
December 26 – Unique Biographies
December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books
December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books
December 29 – Fiction Reprints
December 30 – Middle Grade Novels
December 31 – Picture Books
Filed under: Best Books, Best Books of 2017
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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