A trio of board book reviews

I have a trio of board books to bring to your attention today! When I’m sent something to review, it doesn’t always get to the point of being reviewed. Sometimes we don’t click, sometimes there’s very little I can say about it, or sometimes it’s so out of my remit that I wouldn’t know where to begin. But sometimes, it’s a gorgeous pack of board books that demand attention, and this is the substance of today’s post.

The board book is a curious thing. It’s the first introduction to story for very little people, and as such needs to do a thousand things – and also survive more than one read. I’ve spoken about the quality of Nosy Crow’s books before, and I think they really handle the early years well. I mean, I wouldn’t be talking about them here if I didn’t. 🙂 Here’s a look at a few of my recent favourites …

Where's Mrs Kangaroo, front cover.

Where’s Mrs Kangaroo? by Nosy Crow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A charming and rather lovely board book illustrated by Ingela P Arrhenius, this is a treat. It’s chunky and solid and well put together, and Arrenhenius’ illustrations are a treat. They’re stylish, modern and very nicely done in such a small space. Textually, it’s very straightforward and based around a question and answer: “Where’s Mr Koala?” “Here he is!” The answer is located behind a flap of felt that’s shaped and coloured to match the scene. I’d welcome some books of this nature to start to explore alternatives to ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’, but other than that, this is a lovely, lovely thing.

Superhero Mum and Daughter front cover

Superhero mum and daughter by Timothy Knapman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I got to the final spread of this, I absolutely fell in love. I’m a sucker for exuberance in board books, particularly those that celebrate the power of mums. This is a simple story written by Timothy Knapman that celebrates a day in the life of a mum (and it’s quite an exhausting one!). She runs with her daughter to catch the bus; she plays in the playground; and she finds the lost teddy. She’s a super-mum indeed, but the conclusion rather nicely points out that this isn’t just a one-off: “Every mum’s a superhero and so is every girl!” (The illustrations here by Joe Berger are particularly wonderful; a rainbow bright, fierce explosion of love).

One thing to bear in mind is that Superhero mum and son is a gender swapped version of this story. The text and images are substantially similar, save for the gendered detail (the female protagonist shifts to a male one).

Animal Families Farm front cover

Animal Families: Farm by Nosy Crow

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Much more visually distinct than many other board books out there, this is a really beautiful thing from Jane Ormes and Nosy Crow. Artistically it’s reminiscent of some powerful things – Orla Kiely; Pat Hutchins to name but two – and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a simple lift the flap exercise, though instead of moving on a north-south dynamic, these flaps explore east-west (and as such, offer the opportunity to play around with developing some other skills, plus the awareness of the ‘movement’ of the book itself).

I also rather loved that it doesn’t shy away from esoteric and strange vocabulary. Not everything for this age group has to be written in a particular manner; this teaches the collective noun for donkeys (a pace!) and talks about the different names for mummy and daddy animals to be found on a farm. The illustrations throughout are lovely, and this is such a gorgeous thing.

Hubble Bubble : The Glorious Granny Bake Off : Tracey Corderoy & Joe Berger

Hubble Bubble: The Glorious Granny Bake Off (Hubble Bubble #1)Hubble Bubble: The Glorious Granny Bake Off by Tracey Corderoy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a charming and quite lovely collection of short stories by Corderoy, and illustrated by Joe Berger. Each story is about 40 pages, thickly illustrated, and with short chapters which sing to be read aloud at a storytime or as a bedtime read. I really like that – it’s clever, considerate writing and reminded me a lot of Alex T Smith’s impeccable Claude books or Shirley Hughes & Clara Vulliamy’s equally impeccable Dixie O’Day books.

Pandora’s granny is (whisper it) a witch. She’s adorable; very much a good witch, all round and mischevious and more than a little bit naughty. Each story sees her and Pandora get into trouble!

There’s some really nice touches throughout this – the repeated instruction to (whisper it) every time the W word is mentioned is one that caught my eye (told you this would be good for reading out loud) and I also had a lot of love for Pandora herself. She’s very much an every girl sort of character but Berger’s simple and vivid illustrations give her a unique identity on the page.

This is the first of a series and as mentioned before, reminded me a lot of Hughes & Vulliamy and Alex T Smith. It also reminded me of Susie Day’s work, that sort of marshmallow by the fire warmth of family and fun. There’s also a kind of Famous Five-esque vibe of ‘we’ll sort it out and have fun in the process’. Which is lovely. This book is lovely. It’s very lovely. It makes me want to make fairycakes and have crumpets.

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