The Top 100 Board Books Poll Countdown: #90-81
The poll results continue. Yesterday we got off to a slambang start with a whole host of worthy titles. How will the next round stand up in comparison? See for yourself:
#90 – Elephants Spray by Rebecca Glaser (2016)
“Another title where I wish I could vote for the entire series! I love the crisp, close-up photos in these books and the simple text that makes nonfiction accessible to toddlers, which is rare.” – Cara Frank, Clermont County Public Library
So the inclusion of this book marks another question I had when compiling this list. As Cara has pointed out, this is just one book in a series. When I advertised this poll, should I have made it an option to nominate a board book series rather than individual titles? But what constitutes a series anyway? Some might argue that all of Sandra Boynton’s board books are a series unto themselves, while others would say that only the Little Pookie books fall under that distinct categorization. And would it really be fair to smoosh all the Karen Katz books together when, let’s be frank, the quality can vary between titles? In the end, series titles, if they are strong enough, show up just fine on their own. This is a good example right here. I love the photographs in these books, and my kids did as well.
#89 – Look Look Outside by Peter Linenthal (2012)
“Black & white and movement; pairs with Itsy Bitsy Spider and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” – Mary, Parkway Central Children’s Department
It wasn’t until I entered library school that I learned about brain development in babies and high contrast board books. I’m so pleased we have a couple on this list. It’s always been baffling to me that there aren’t more purely black and white board books out there. Linenthal, no fool, figured out early on that his clean lined design style was perfect for the form. I’d love to see more illustrators and designers follow suit in the future. This is truly a board book for the youngest of young readers.
#88 – But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton (1982)
Supplying children with the quandary that will last a lifetime: “She just doesn’t know – Should she stay? Should she go?” – Carol
Possibly the funniest board book in existence, though it does have stiff competition from the other Boynton books out there. And what’s this? Could this be the first time Ms. Boynton has shown up on our poll results? It is! And not a minute too soon. Though I personally would have ranked this book much higher on this list had I been given a choice, I’m just pleased it even made it at all. New parents that receive this book may find themselves surprised by how clever the simple writing in it really is. A toast then to the woman who almost single-handedly saved the sanity of countless moms, dads, and grandparents over the decades, rescuing them from stultifying numbness brought on by boredom.
#87 – Not a Box by Antoinette Portis (2011)
“Yes, we all know that kids like to play with cardboard boxes, but this has a zany simplicity that makes it stand out” – Emily Schneider
“Zany simplicity” is a good way to describe this book. Though she’s well-established today, I do believe that this was Ms. Portis’s very first book, originally published as a traditional picture book. I don’t know who the genius was that figured out that it would also make a brilliant board book, but there you go. I remember, after giving this book to my niece, telling her that there was a sequel to it called Not a Stick. The kid burst out in hysterics and didn’t believe a word I said. Ah well. Consider this the book that belies that old belief that brown jacketed books never sell.
#86 – I’m a Librarian by Brian Biggs (2017)
“A board book about a librarian! Who’s shown in bed with his husband/partner! I love this sweet book” – Cheryl Gladfelter
I once declared that this board book had the distinction of being the very first out there to feature a gay couple where neither partner was a parent. I have yet to be corrected on the matter. It’s little wonder that librarians love this book (for crying out loud, it cites the Periodical Section!) but like all the others in the Tinyville Town series it’s just showing someone doing their job. I think Richard Scarry would have approved.
#85 – I Say, You Say Opposites! by Tad Carpenter (2012)
“Colorful and interactive; pairs with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” – Mary, Parkway Central Children’s Department
With the inclusion of this book we begin to press against the very restrictions that constitute what a “board book” really is. To hear my distributor Baker & Taylor tell it, this book is a “Hardcover” that just happens to be board book sized and contains lift-the-flap elements. I say it stays, though finding your own copy might be tricky. It’s been out of print for a while. Time to bring it back?
#84 – Ride the Big Machines in Winter by Carmen Mok (2016)
“I love board books that are big enough to share with my story time groups! Beautiful picture books about snow gently falling are lovely….but they’re not very exciting for my toddler 10:30 AM story time…but they all love machines” – Jennifer, Fauquier County Public Library
Occasionally a book would show up on my final results list that I simply did not know. And considering my son’s obsession with machines for a while, where have this been all my life? I particularly like the quote from Jennifer here. One of the nice things about this poll is that so many librarians were willing to share which books do well in storytimes and which titles you can pair them with. Perfectly practical in every way.
#83 – Noodles for Baby by Jamie Meckel (2011)
“This book is set in Hawaii, and I like how noodles from different cultures are featured—udon, saimin, pancit, etc.” – Michelle, Waimea Public Library
Hawaii! Noodles from different cultures! Honestly, what’s not to love? The only fault I can find with this book is that it makes me hungry just to look at it. Even Noodles & Co. won’t give me the wide array of foodstuffs featured here. Clever idea for a title.
#82 – The Noisy Counting Book by Susan Schade, ill. Jon Buller (2010)
“I give you 100% credit for making me aware of this book! You sang its praises on (multiple?) blog posts and I ordered a copy for our system. I absolutely love reading this one out loud! It’s so much fun. My only two complaints are that the animals count up to six, which is hard to demonstrate when you have one hand holding the book, and that it takes kids a little while to catch on to the frog saying ‘GA-DUNK’ instead of ‘ribbit’ – but those are small quibbles that don’t stop me from reading it all the time!” – Cara Frank, Clermont County Public Library
BEHOLD! The greatest storytime board book you will ever encounter! Watch as it hypnotizes full rooms of squirmy toddlers. Marvel at its onomatopoetic greatness. Delight in its ability to make children everywhere say “GA-DUNK” together on cue. For years it was out of print. Then it came back in board book form. Now it’s out of print again and board book editions are going for $98.88 on Amazon (this is true). Now come with me as we storm the gates of Random House to demand it be brought back again (preferably in board book, picture book, and oversized board book editions).
#81 – Girl of Mine by Jabari Asim, ill. LeUyen Pham (2010)
“The text and illustrations are so exuberant and warm — and it’s a Black girl being loved by her Black father!” – Elizabeth Sweeny
Not only does this mark the debut of Mr. Asim on this list, but the debut of LeUyen Pham (a woman who has literally illustrated everything from board books to easy books to early chapter books to middle grade titles to comics to young adult literature) as well.
Spoiler Alert: You haven’t seen the last of Jabari Asim (who, fun fact, is actually the editor of The Crisis when he isn’t killing it in the board book field).
Top 100 Board Books Poll Results
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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