Board books are big stuff in little hands By Judy Belanger

I have received many board books over the past several months, in a variety of shapes and sizes. I'm pleased to see books by popular authors being presented for beginning readers in this format. The smaller books fit little hands and are easy to carry around. How nice not to have to worry about pages being torn as the books are enjoyed over and over. The following are a few of my favorite newly released board books.

LET'S PLAY and A BUSY YEAR, by Leo Lionni, Knopf, $6.99; ages 0-4.

Twin mice are no different from children when they ask in Let's Play, "What shall we do today?" Some of the suggestions: play dress-up, play ball or read a book. A Busy Year tells us the twins are named Willie and Winnie. In January, they discover a tree while they are playing in the snow. As each month passes, the twins see changes in the tree. In September, they are rewarded when the tree is full of fruit for them to enjoy. In December, they give the tree a present: They plant seeds and bulbs around it to prepare for another year. These books are a good beginning for enjoying the other works of Lionni.

LILLY'S CHOCOLATE HEART, by Kevin Henkes, HarperCollins, $6.99; ages 2-4.

Valentine's Day is over and Lilly has one red, foil-wrapped chocolate heart left. She wants to find the perfect place to keep the heart. As she looks around, every place seems to have something wrong-one is too hot, another too messy, a third is too dusty. Then she discovers the perfect spot: She eats it. Follow this story with Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse and other Henkes stories. Visit his Web site,, for play sheets and coloring pages along with a list of all his books.

I AM A BUNNY, by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry, Golden Books, $5.99; ages 0-3.

What a delight to learn about the changing seasons with Nicholas the bunny in pictures by Richard Scarry. Children can look for some of the same kinds of spring flowers or butterflies in nature that they find in the book. This book can be re-read with each change of season to remind children of what comes next. The book was first published by Golden Books in 1963. This new board will keep the book in better condition so it can be shared with future generations. Check out for games to play and a variety of pages to print and color. I especially enjoyed the baseball rhyming game that includes the voice of Harry Caray exclaiming "Holy Cow!" after players hit a "home run" by making a correct match.

I KNOW A RHINO, by Charles Fuge, Sterling, $5.95; ages 2-4.

The little girl in this story has tea with a rhino, sings with an ape, bathes with a giraffe and picnics with a bear. The story, told in rhyme, takes her through a day filled with the animals she loves-because they live with her. It's a great bedtime book; its final page is a charming drawing of her lying in bed, thumb in mouth, surrounded by her stuffed animal friends.

COUNTDOWN TO SPRING! AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK, by Janet Schulman, illustrated by Meilo So, Knopf, $6.99; ages 0-2.

In the spring, all sorts of animals, insects and flowers come to life. Children can learn to count down from 10 to one as they turn each page. Spring starts with 10 ladybugs crawling on the crocuses. The last page shows an Easter basket filled with treats for all the animals in the book. After reading the story, take a walk in the woods and see how many ladybugs, squirrels, butterflies or other living things you and your child can count.

TIME FOR BED and WAKE UP, A MAGIC PICTURE BOOK, by Sue King, Chronicle Books, $5.95; ages 0-2.

Children learn to follow a routine each day through practice and repetition. These two books use holograms to demonstrate those daily tasks from morning to night. Each page contains a holographic picture; when the book is moved, the picture shifts to depict the action. For example, when the boy washes his hair, the page starts with his hair full of soap, then changes to show his hair being rinsed. I especially like the page where dad is reading a bedtime story at the end of the day. Children will enjoy the books after they understand that the pictures change before their eyes.

THE BIG SHINY SPARKLY ACTIVITY BOOK and THE BIG SHINY SPARKLY FIRST WORDS BOOK, illustrated by Susie Lacome, Running Press, $9.98; ages 2-4.

On each double-page spread, children can interact in a variety of settings while they visit a playground, the town or the zoo. The pictures sparkle where colorful foil has been inserted. There are questions to answer and a flap to lift. These books present a variety of ways for children to develop their vocabulary and picture recognition skills.

DINOSAUR RUMBLE, by Shaheen Bilgrami, illustrated by Sally Chambers, color by Patricia Ratie, Sterling. $12.95; ages 2-4.

Children develop a fascination for dinosaurs very early. The rumble in the story is caused when all the prehistoric animals run because the big one is coming. Each rhyming double page is enhanced with an easy pull tab that reveals wiggling eyes, big mouths and hatching eggs. The reader will probably guess before the end of the book that the approaching T-rex is what's frightening all the dinosaurs. Another book in the same format is Icy Antics. Here the polar bears, penguins and other animals who live in the polar region come out to play all day before they cuddle up for the night below the snow. The larger format makes these books too heavy for little ones to carry, but they're perfect for lap-sharing.


Judy Belanger is a retired elementary learning resource center teacher who lives with her husband in Addison. They have two grown children and four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6 in the school where she taught.


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