The Top 100 Board Books Poll Countdown: #80-71
The overriding theme of today’s release of the Top 100 Board Books Poll results is currency. So many of the books on today’s list were published for the first time in the last five or so years). I myself have seen a distinct uptick during that time of quality (as well as quantity). Read your Publishers Weekly and you’ll see that board book are consistently outselling others in the field, and the number of units sold just keeps going up. While I could assume that a lot of these books are current because it is difficult to remember older board books, honestly I think it’s just as likely that board books are getting better and better these days. See for yourself.
#80 – Little Bee by Edward Gibbs (2012)
“Parents get just as much a kick out of this circular story as the kids do.” – Beverly, San Antonio Public Library
At first glance this looks like a slightly amended version of A Fly Went By by Mike McClintock, but upon closer analysis it stands very well on its own, which a quite different ending. Gibbs is a funny duck. His board books are consistently more beautiful than the norm but his publishing is erratic. If I had my way, we’d be seeing at least a one new Gibbs per year. Someone speak with the man on the matter.
#79 – Cityblock by Christopher Franceschelli, ill. Peskimo (2016)
“I love Christopher Franceschelli’s gorgeous ‘block’ board books, even if they don’t stand up well in a library setting. Perfect for parents that are tired of boring illustrations in their board books; lots to look at in his books.” Jennifer, Fauquier County Public Library
When this book first came out I think some of us puzzled over the descriptions of this title. Kirkus called this a “very thick board book” and still it wasn’t clear precisely what was going on here. All told, maybe this isn’t the best book for a library, but I didn’t call this my Top 100 Board Books for a Library Setting poll, now did I? Let’s hear it for the outliers.
#78 – Have You Seen My Lunch Box? by Steve Light (2017)
“Black and white sketches and spots of color for the missing object make this a lot of fun. Kids appreciate the cartoon humor of the little boy’s serious search.” – Emily Schneider
It’s almost a pity. I like this Steve Light book a lot, but I honestly feel his most brilliant board book work was on the “Go” series from Chronicle. Trains Go, Trucks Go, Boats Go, Planes Go, etc. were each and every last one of them a work of art. Alas, none of them made the Top 100 board books poll, which goes to prove that they need to be better known. So by all means check out this book (which is wonderful and contains characters from Steve’s truly delightful Have You Seen My Dragon?) but also do yourself a favor and find Trains Go as well. It’ll make your day.
#77 – How Does Baby Feel? by Karen Katz (2013)
“Diverse, interactive, and colorful; pairs with If You’re Happy and You Know It” – Mary, Parkway Central Children’s Department
There are a few board books that are showing up on this list that give me a visceral wayback machine feel whenever I see their covers. Katz and her flaps made up such a key component of my babies’ lives. I remember some Katz books where no amount of innocent tugging on the part of my tiny spit machines could rend those books asunder. Then there were some where just the tiniest tweak would render them inoperable. This book lasted longer than most, and why not? It’s truly charming.
Much of my appreciation for Katz came before I was told that her art is heavily influenced by the folk art movement. Once I heard that a lot of pieces clicked into place.
#76 – Quick Duck by Mary Murphy (2013)
“Shows directions; pairs with Old MacDonald and ABCs” – Mary, Parkway Central Children’s Department
You’ll find the pub date 2013 for the States, though Ms. Murphy’s book came out in England a year earlier. There are some board book artists that you associate entirely with that particular format. Ms. Murphy has done her fair share of regular old picture books, but for whatever reason she’ll always be first in my mind as a board book artist.
#75 – Stanley’s Numbers by William Bee (2017)
“A picture book character that is given the proper board book treatment, instead of simply being reprinted in a different format. I love these sweet characters and their little adventures and I find that kids do, too – although most of them point out Shamus and Little Woo (the moles), asking, ‘What’s that?’ So we tie in a bit of animal education, too!” – Cara Frank, Clermont County Public Library
It would be difficult for anyone to choose a favorite Stanley book, so I don’t begrudge this one’s rise to the top. Personally, I’m a Stanley the Mailman fan myself (as it is the only board book I can think of for the youngest set where there is a finely tuned moment of true sarcasm from one of the main characters).
#74 – Rapunzel (Once Upon a World series) by Chloe Perkins, ill. Archana Sreenivasan (2017)
“I love the ‘Once Upon a World’ board books—fairy tales retold with multicultural characters. Rapunzel has an Indian setting (Cinderella is Mexican). The writing is lengthier than what I normally prefer in board books, but the illustrations and settings more than make up for it.” – Jennifer, Fauquier County Public Library
Librarians like to talk a lot about using picture books with older readers. Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco, for example, is best used when given to 4th through 6th graders. What we don’t talk about a lot is the use of board books with the older reader set. Does the format have a distinct advantage over larger picture books? There’s no time to cover all the possibilities in this little post but bear it in mind when you consider books like Perkins/Sreenivasan’s Rapunzel.
#73 – Where Is Baby’s Yummy Tummy? by Karen Katz (2011)
“I love all of Katz’s lift-the-flap books for babies and I use them in Baby Time often; the babies love seeing the surprises under the flaps.” – Beverly, San Antonio Public Library
Baby’s got a lot of answering to do here today. Fess up, Baby! How do you feel? Where your yummy tummy? By gum, we’ll get to the bottom of this (literally, as there’s a peek under a diaper at one point).
#72 – My Face Book by Star Bright Books (2011)
“I like that this book is published in bilingual editions for multiple languages…I got the Japanese/English edition” – Michelle, Waimea Public Library
Star Bright Books probably owes more to this little board book than all their others combined. It’s primary claim to fame, aside from being adorable, is that it is available in just a TON of different languages. Indeed, Star Bright prides itself in offering as many board books as possible in other languages. Any why not? As far as I can ascertain, it’s an area that can only grow and grow.
#71 – Mrs. Peaknuckle’s Flower Alphabet by Jessie Ford (2018)
“I just discovered the Mrs. Peanuckle board books, and our patrons are loving them! Informational books for toddlers are big with our patrons, and anything nature related is a plus. They are charming, and I’ve learned about flowers/vegetables/birds/bugs that I’ve never heard of.” – Jennifer, Fauquier County Public Library
Oh yes. Toddler nonfiction. The last great stepping stone to total nonfiction domination. Mwah-hah-hah!
But in fact, toddler nonfiction titles are often some of the most inventive writing and art out there. The Mrs. Peanuckle books are a grand example right there.
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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