The Top 100 Board Books Poll Countdown: #40-36
You realize, of course, that when we hit the Top 20 in these poll results that I’ll be doing a board book a day. Woohoo! Can’t wait for that to begin. Then again, there’s much to be said for these countdowns by 5s. Where else could you find such an eclectic array? Starting, of course, with this one:
#40 – Besos for Baby by Jen Arena, ill. Blanca Gómez (2014)
Bilingual in an interesting way. Some bilingual board books incorporate words of one language strategically within the sentences of another. This book takes it from a different angle. The baby will give kisses to someone or something, and then the chorus on the opposite page will specify what that person or thing is is Spanish. Here, see what I mean:
The repetition of the chorus is key here. I think I like this better than merely plopping words of another language into the text.
#39 – Little You by Richard Van Camp, ill. Julie Flett (2013)
I’m often meh on rhyming text, but this works really well. “Little you / little wonder // Little wish / gentle thunder.” And that’s just the first two spreads! And lovely stuff like “You are mighty / you are small” and “You are us / and so much more.” – Elizabeth Sweeny
It’s satisfying seeing the work of Cree-Metis Canadian author and illustrator Julie Flett on this list, there’s no question. Particularly when my favorite Native title Cradle Me by Debbie Slier didn’t make this Top 100 (spoiler alert). So far, in terms of Native content we have the previously mentioned I Am Dreaming of . . . Animals in the Native Northwest by Melaney Gleeson-Lyall and this. Take a look at this book’s remarkable number of gushing reviews here if you get a chance. A can’t miss title.
#38 – The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri (2010)
I’m a children’s librarian at the Des Plaines Library, and before my baby was born last September my co-workers gifted me this board book. They know how much I love squirrels and want to pass along that love to my kiddo. I’ve picked this book as number one because of how much my son Carl loves it. No matter how fussy he is, when I start to read it he calms down. Maybe it’s the tone of my voice, maybe it’s the rhythm, but the moment I say “He was SO BUSY!” he looks up with a huge smile on his face. For that alone, this book has the number one spot in my heart forever. Not to mention, I love the illustrations and how you can see another squirrel in the background also being busy gathering up food. It’s sweet. – Cheryl Gladfelter
Ah! Now here is a book I have some firsthand experience with as a parent. At New York Public Library the librarians there could NOT get enough of Ms. Tafuri’s Spots, Feathers, and Curly Tails (which is an EXCELLENT toddler storytime readadloud, by the way). It was my first introduction to her work, and I’ve followed her faithfully ever since. Yet when the board book edition of The Busy Little Squirrel landed in my lap, I didn’t have a clear memory of reading it in its original picture book form. This proved advantageous, however, because Ms. Tafuri is one of those authors unafraid to hide running elements in her art. In the case of this book there appears to be a second squirrel also collecting items willy-nilly in the background. And trust me, when you read these board books as often as you should, you are grateful indeed for tiny surprise elements that catch the eye.
#37 – Everything Goes: 123 Beep Beep Beep – A Counting Book by Brian Biggs (2012)
City-centric and colorful; pairs with The Wheels on the Bus – Mary, Parkway Central Children’s Department
How do you pick just one Everything Goes board book? No idea, but this is certainly a personal favorite. Richard Scarry may have discovered long ago that counting a different vehicle with every number is de rigueur, but Biggs has honed the art to a fine polish.
#36 – Whose Knees Are These? by Jabari Asim (2006)
Rhyming text, great for one-on-one or group reading, brown-skinned main character–what’s not to love? – Gesse
Don’t you worry. Though this 2006 classic is currently out of print, much like Whose Toes Are Those? it will be reissued with a new cover in 2019. And here is that cover, in case you don’t believe me:
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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