My son is nearly a year old, and he loves looking at books. Since we read a book or two (or three) every night before bed, we go through a lot of them! Therefore I’m embarking on a project: to read every board book available at my local library. Each week or so I’ll share the books we’ve read and which ones I recommend.

Some caveats:
1. If we own a book, I won’t borrow it, but I will comment on it. Books we already own will not be considered for “best book of the week” because that’s unfair to the new-to-us books.

2. I’ll try to notice if a book gets returned that we passed over, but I might miss a few if I overlook them.

3. Board books only, for now. Once we finish the board books I may restart this project with picture books, but we’ll have to see.

4. The board books aren’t in alphabetical order on the shelf, so we’re just going in the order the library has them.

1. Roll Over! A Counting Song illustrated by Merle Peek

This is a series of illustrations that go with the classic “roll over” song. (“And the little one said roll over …”) The art is rather monochromatic. My son wasn’t much interested in it. But it does do a good job capturing the play between light and shadow, and the interpretation of the song is cute.

2. Corduroy’s Day by Don Freeman, illustrated by Lisa McCue

Corduroy goes through his daily activities, counting 1 to 10 in the process. I liked how each number was incorporated into the story rather than standing out and screaming, “This is a counting book!” Nice art, charming story.

3. Steam Train, Dream Train Colors by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld

A train rolls past, displaying different creatures, types of train cars, and of course, colors. Some of the rhyming meter is slightly awkward, but the beautiful art more than makes up for it. Tom Lichtenheld also did the art for Shark vs. Train, one of our favorite picture books, so I was excited to read this one.

4. Look! Birds! by Stephanie Calmenson, illustrated by Puy Pinillos

Nice art, with informative rhymes about different types of birds. Perhaps a little too nuanced for the very young, who are still differentiating between “bird” and “octopus.” The sturdy feel of this board book made it pleasant to hold; my son loved patting the cover.

5. Toot by Leslie Patricelli

I didn’t care for this one. It seems more likely to encourage children to draw attention to tooting than to see it as just another body function. But this has over 500 five-star reviews on Amazon, so clearly it’s just me.

6. Llama Llama I Love You by Anna Dewdney

A sweet little Valentine’s Day themed story. Nothing remarkable, but I’d check it out again around February.

7. Peppa’s First Pet by ?

I generally shy away from books featuring TV characters. In my experience they tend to be less well organized because they can rely on familiar characters to sell copies. This fit into that category. Peppa gets a pet fish, and the fish won’t eat. So they get on the bus, sing “The Wheels on the Bus,” go to the vet, and find out the bus trip cheered up the fish. Good for them, I guess? It felt like a random jumble of ideas thrown together.

Also, I have questions. Why are the pigs sentient, but the fish isn’t? Why are we encouraging children to keep goldfish in bowls and not ventilated tanks? What vet accepts goldfish patients? Why would you take a bored goldfish on a bus, sloshing the water and causing distress, rather than putting some rocks and a plastic plant in the bowl?

I know, I know, it’s just a little book for kids, but I think picture books should respect kids’ intelligence and not just present a sampling of pictures and scenes held together by, “Look, characters I saw on TV!”


Best Book of the Week: Steam Train, Dream Train Colors by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
The art makes this book stand out.


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