Celebrating Nosy Crow Board Books

Peekaboo Bear
Peekaboo Apple

Camilla Reid and Ingela P Arrhenius

Toddlers and babies absolutely love to play peekaboo, especially when there’s a mirror involved, so these two books will be winners on both counts. Add to that Camilla Reid’s playful rhyming couplets that introduce equally playful, adorably illustrated animals, some of which are revealed by manipulating the sliders in Ingela P Arrhenius’s brightly coloured, patterned spreads, (as well as the occasional human in the Apple book)

and you have two sure fire winners for several more reasons. Exuberant language, alluring art, manipulative skill development and most importantly, sheer fun: what more can one ask of books for babies?

Listen to the Carnival of the Animals
Marion Billet

With its six sound buttons embedded in the spreads, tinies can listen to the Royal March of the Lion, The Elephant (and maybe stomp along too), bounce in time to Kangaroos, imagine floating neath the Aquarium water, enjoy the flutes emulating bird song in an Aviary and finally, glide gracefully across the lake like The Swan. Each animal (often along with minibeast bit-part players) is allocated a double spread brightly and engagingly illustrated and introduced with a sentence to maximise engagement such as “Does the bouncy piano sound like a kangaroo?’

or ‘Isn’t it magical under the water?’and there’s a final page asking “Which animal was YOUR favourite?’
A lovely introduction to Saint-Saēns’ classic The Carnival of the Animals for the very youngest listeners (with music played by two famous orchestras)

Who’s Hiding in the Snow?
Katharine McEwen

In five beautifully illustrated double spreads we visit a variety of chilly locations wherein to discover the answer to the titular question. First, we’re in the Asian tundra in the early morning to hunt for the climbing and flying animals that have hidden themselves under the snow (lift the flaps to find the amur leopard, the ermine, a Siberian squirrel, a Siberian tiger and a snowy owl.) Next stop is the icy Antarctic to search for swimming creatures, a bird that hops on one foot and a chinstrap penguin creche. Afternoon in the Eurasian mountains shows some animals while others –including an alpine marmot and sleeping wild boars are hiding.

A snowy Arctic evening depicts animals on the move and others such as the walrus, resting . It’s night-time when the final destination is reached and the northern lights shine to reveal the ears of grey wolves (the rest being hidden) as well as a moose lurking behind snow-capped rocks and some very sleepy dall sheep. Brr!

A considerable amount of information about the various animals is given on the inner side of the flaps under which the animals are hidden offering interactive learning of a fun kind for young children.

Board Book Collection

Tales from Nature: Rabbit
illustrated by Magali Attiogbé
Tales from Nature: Bird
illustrated by Olivia Cosneau
QED
These two books are the first in a series of wildlife board book nature stories for the very young.
In each, the animal in question acts as narrator.
Rabbit tells how he finds food in the garden; runs fast into his burrow when he catches sight of a potential predator and finally, when winter’s over, meets a doe and together they produce a litter.
Bird talks of being greedy as she feasts on a little caterpillar that’s nibbling through some leaves. Love is in the air come spring when Bird sings, finds a mate, builds a nest, lays three eggs and hatches her babies.
Both tales are simply told through a spare text, and each has die cut holes and flaps to encourage exploration of the nicely textured pastel illustrations.
Engaging introductions to nonfiction texts for toddlers.

More bird encounters in the first of these:

Listen to the Birds from around the world
Listen to the Music from around the world
Marion Billet
Nosy Crow

What toddler can resist the invitation to hear the sound of,  in turn, the mynah bird, the kingfisher, a whistling lorikeet, a toucan, a penguin on the ice and some wading flamingos, when all they have to do is press the button strategically placed on each of Marion Billet’s alluring spreads?
No doubt your home or nursery will become a temporary menagerie when you share this enticing little board book.
In the same series is Listen to the Music from around the world wherein a guitar-strumming turtle, a panda violinist, a bagpipe playing sheep, a harmonica blowing donkey, a bongo banging Croc. and a bull with flamenco guitar perform. Noisy fun, but you can always turn off the sound button at the back of the book.

Hello Farm
Hello Zoo

Nicola Slater
Nosy Crow

In these jolly little books we meet stripy cat, Ludo, who likes to discover new places to play.
At the farm he visits first the barn, home of cow family where Bianca is ready to join his fun. So off they go to call on the chickens in their henhouse and invite the baby chicks to join them. Little lambs, Eric, Clem and Finn are also eager for some fun but then Ludo hears snoring; one of his friends is still fast asleep but a bit of tummy tickling will help get him moving and then finally all the pals head for the paddling pool for a dip.
The pattern is similar for Hello Zoo except that Ludo cycles off to collect his wild animal pals in their various zoo abodes, on this occasion discovering Minty the panda in need of some toe tickling to rouse her from her slumbers before they all go off to find the bouncy castle.
Nicola Slater’s bright, jolly scenes with die-cut holes, flaps and squidgy tactile areas to explore are part and parcel of these simple toddler stories whose questioning narratives involve young listeners from the start.

Festive Fun for the Very Young

Listen to the Christmas Songs
Marion Billet
Nosy Crow

Half a dozen favourite seasonal songs are illustrated – one per spread – and each one can be brought to life by pressing the sound button on the respective spread.
(Adults can turn off the switch at the end of the book when they’ve had enough of the jollity.)
Interactive, sing along fun for the very young illustrated with bright animal scenes of festive fun and frolics.

Snow Dog
Puffin Books

To share with the very youngest, a dog-shaped board book with short rhyming text tells how the playful Snowdog runs and jumps, chases his ball and generally enjoys the company of his friends be they of the snowman or human kind.
Five snowy scenes show all the fun of the chilly outdoors.

Make & Play Nativity
Joey Chou
Nosy Crow

Here’s a nice strong, easy-to-assemble Nativity scene for small fingers.
It comprises twenty characters, some human, others animal that are easy to slot together, and in so doing, youngsters can hone their manipulative skills as a lovely seasonal scene is constructed.
Joey Chou’s artwork has a delightful simplicity that may well inspire users to make some of their own figures to add to the completed scene.
I’d suggest sharing the Nativity story included in the latter part of the book before starting on the construction. Once this is complete, then there are other activities including making an adventure calendar, songs to sing and more.
A festive delight that can (the pieces are easy to take apart after Christmas) be used over and over, either in a nursery setting or a family.

All I Want for Christmas
Rachel Bright
Orchard Books

In this short rhyming tale we join penguins – one Big, one Little- as they count down the days to Christmas.
There is plenty to keep them busy: baking, wrapping presents, making cards and decorations and seemingly, the entire penguin population is eagerly anticipating what will be under the Christmas tree.

There’s one penguin however who has no need to join the queue to post a letter to Santa, for the one thing Big really wants above all else is right there all the time: it’s a 4-lettered word beginning with l: can you guess what that might be?

A Briefing of Board Books

Time to Go With Ted
Sophy Henn
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Ted, the wonderfully imaginative toddler is back and he’s ready to go.
Whether it be to the park, the shops, the pool or the playground swings …

he’s always sure to have the appropriate gear with him.
And being such a friendly little boy, he’s bound to make friends wherever he goes; so come teatime he’s got plenty of guests to share with.
Lift-the-flap pages hide a host of animals as well as opportunities for some noisy roaring, shivering, sploshing and making monkey sounds.

Listen to the Dance Music
Marion Billet
Nosy Crow
Just in time for ‘Strictly’ here’s an opportunity to brush up on your dance moves with the animal movers and shakers. You can waltz with the wolves, tango with the horses, practise some Charleston swivels with the bears, salsa with the flamingos, rock n’ roll along with the cats and hip-hop with the frogs. And, to get you and your little ones going, there’s a sound button at the back of the book, so as well as enjoying the dancers visually, you can listen to the various types of music. What are you waiting for: let’s dance.

I Thought I Saw a Lion!
Lydia Nichols
Templar Publishing
Using the sliders on every spread, toddlers can develop their manipulative skills while enjoying playing hide-and-seek with a mischievous lion that invades a variety of venues. Is he somewhere in the restaurant? Or perhaps he’s visiting the fancy dress shop or the bookshop maybe.

Surely he can’t be getting his mane trimmed at the hairdresser’s, so where is he?
Built-in repetition and bold, stylish illustrations enhance the game.

Colours/ Opposites
Britta Teckentrup
Templar Publishing
Two popular topics feature in stylish look and find presentations by Britta Teckentrup.
In addition to the colour element of the first, there are opportunities for counting and developing talk on each spread.

Opposites here entails essentially, finding the odd one out, be that outside, above, fast, short, heavy, white, closed or small. Some concepts such as tall/short or heavy/ light are relative and thus not so clear-cut, but the rhyming text ensures that answering the questions asked is not an issue. Here: for instance,

‘Some animals plod / with a slow heavy pace, / but who is so fast she’s / winning the race?’

Opposites/ Colours
Nosy Crow and The British Museum
The two new Early Learning at the Museum titles contain around thirty fascinating objects from the museum collections per book.
Apart from the basic concepts presented in the two books, each fascinating image offers opportunities for developing open-ended conversations with young children.
You can look into recent history and go back over 2000 years with intriguing artefacts from a variety of cultures in Opposites. Or in Colours go back even further to 2600BC or be bang up to date with a Grayson Perry vase from 2011.
These chunky books will be of interest to children long after they’ve acquired the basic concepts related to opposites and colours.
Adults can scan the QR code in each book to find out more about the featured objects and there is a full key at the back.

The Marine Team / The Forest Folk / The Sky Guys
Madeleine Rogers
Button Books
Here are three new additions to the Mibo board books series featuring five animals, apiece, two spreads being given to each one.
Once again in each book, superb graphics are accompanied by fact-filled rhymes and there is a final fact page that tells you a little bit about each animal presented, their habitats and what we can do to help protect them.
The Marine Team comprises the green turtle, the great white shark, which is actually only white on its lower part, the seal, the blue whale and seahorses.
Did you know that it’s the male that carries the eggs from which the babies are born?
In The Forest Folk we meet temperate forest dwellers, brown bears, grey wolves, red squirrels, otters and deer, both male and female.
The Sky Guys features five bird species – the majestic albatross, the elegant flamingo, the wise owl, the guzzling pelican and the tiny hummingbird.
The rhyming texts will help young children absorb the information as an adult reads it aloud; and each book offers plenty of talking points.

A Bounty of Board Books

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Clive and his Art/Clive and his Babies
Jessica Spanyol
Child’s Play
Preschooler Clive, as portrayed by Jessica Spanyol, is a total delight. In the first book he shares his love of being creative, something that takes many forms including printing, drawing, constructing and collage making. He also loves looking at other people’s art and sharing his own, especially with his cat, Moshi.

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Clive has a particular penchant for googly eyes (don’t most youngsters of his age) and loves to adorn his works with all things glittery and sparkly (ditto).
In the second book we meet Clive with his two ‘babies’. These certainly do get the full range of experiences: play …

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feeding, potty training, baths (with the help of friend Asif) rides, stories – very important, hugs and plenty of TLC.

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I love the slightly oblique, almost child-like views of Clive that Jessica often gives us. Her straightforward present tense narrative is such that beginning readers can also enjoy Clive and his world when they share these enchanting books with their younger siblings.

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Littleland Around the World
Marion Billet
Nosy Crow
The animal friends from Littleland pack their bags and set off to explore the world. First stop is London and they finish up in New York City – in Central Park to be precise. There are five other European destinations, then they head to Egypt and the pyramids followed by a safari in Kenya (that’s Africa taken care of). Next port of call is India and the Taj Mahal in Agra – a very hot place indeed so we are told, not always so in my experience though. From there it’s to China for a dragon festival , Tokyo at night …

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Australia to visit the outback and sunny Brazil for a spot of beach fun and games.
Running below every spread is a “Can you see …?‘ strip with nine labeled items (the national flag, animals, foods and more) for lap-tourists to spot. Yes there is the odd bit of mild stereotyping: ‘In Italy, people often eat pizza for their lunch.’ but the illustrations are cute, there’s so much to discuss, and toddlers will love to play I-Spy on this whistle-stop global tour.

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My First Book of Opposites
Alain Grée
Button Books
Ten spreads playfully illustrate basic opposites such as big/small, short/tall, up/down, fast/slow
Most of the concepts are either mathematical or scientific – hot/cold, day/night with the exception of one relating to feelings – happy/sad. We know that children acquire concepts through life experiences but books such as this board book can help in the reinforcement of same, and provide a talking point for adult and child together.

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Bizzy Bear DIY Day
Benji Davies
Nosy Crow
Bizzy Bear is having a DIY day. He’s busy measuring, sawing, drilling; but what are he and his pals making?

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TADAAH! Somewhere they can all have fun together …
Toddlers can enjoy the surprise ending and hone their fine motor skills as they push and slide the tabs to assist Bizzy as he wields his tools.
Bizzy Bear already has many fans among the very youngest; this one could win him even more.

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Animal Babies in the River/Animal Babies on the Mountain
Julia Groves
Child’s Play
Adult animals and their offspring from two different habitats – the river and mountains – are presented in life-like, collage style illustrations. The half dozen river animals portrayed are swan/cygnets, crocodile/hatchlings …

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otter and her pups, frog/tadpoles, salmon/fry and duck/ducklings.
The mountain dwellers include the alpaca/cria, lynx/kittens, eagle/eaglets and wolf/cubs.

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Julia Groves really does capture the essence of each species in her portrayals; her graphic style certainly doesn’t dumb down her illustrations: she clearly believes that the very youngest children deserve quality artwork and this is what she provides here.

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Board Books Briefing

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I Wish I Were a Pirate
Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Sarah Ward
Bloomsbury Children’s Books
In a jolly rhyming narrative, a small boy entertains the possibilities of a piratical life sailing the seas, capturing a baddie of two …

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and of course, searching for buried treasure.
Small fingers will have lots of fun working the various sliders …

 

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and there’s plenty to amuse in Sarah Ward’s jolly nautical scenes, not least the activities of the stowaway mice.

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Cars Go
Steve Light
Chronicle Books
Bright watercolour illustrations accompany the irresistible onomatopoeic outpourings of the eight vehicles featured in this wide format board book.
With an old jalopy that goes CHITTYCHITTY CHITTYCHITTY KKKKTTT SHHPPPTTT SHHPPPTTT, a Monster Truck that goes KR-KR-KR KR-KR-KR- KRRUUUNCH and this beauty …

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You’re guaranteed a wonderfully noisy story session when you share this with early years children; and think of all that inbuilt sound/symbol awareness potential herein.
And, don’t you just love the playful finale …

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Listen to the Jungle
Listen to the Things that Go
Marion Billet
Nosy Crow
This pair of interactive board books with lots of noise making opportunities and amusing animal pictures should provide hours of fun for the very youngest. Lions, a hippo, monkeys, an elephant, pandas and parrots …

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plus a sprinkling of minibeasts and other birds inhabit the landscapes of the former, each being introduced with a single sentence such as ‘Listen to the hippo in the water.’
Each spread has a strategically placed button, which when pressed, makes the animal’s sound.
The Things that Go are cars, a lorry, a bike …

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a train, a boat and a tram and all the drivers, riders and passengers are animals.  
Both books, when shared with an adult, offer plenty of potential for talk about each spread. (And you can discretely turn the sound switch inside the back cover to the off position if you want to.)

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Mog and Me and other stories
Judith Kerr
Harper Collins Children’s Books
For a delightful introduction to the world of Mog for the very youngest, this is just the thing and, with its easy to read text, it’s ideal for beginning readers to share with their toddler siblings.

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Here in four brief stories, we meet not only the forgetful cat herself, but also members of her extended family.

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The Hueys in It Wasn’t Me
Oliver Jeffers
Harper Collins Children’s Books
The Hueys – usually a peaceable group of characters are having an argument when along comes Gillespie and dares to ask, “What are you fighting for?” but they’re too busy deciding who started it, so he tries again …

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Err …
The humour in this story of escalating conflict is subtle and quite sophisticated. It works well with 4s to 6s but one wonders whether it might go right over the heads of toddlers – the usual board book audience.

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Board Book Roundup

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Hugless Douglas First Words
David Melling
Hodder Children’s Books
Our favourite hugging bear certainly has his priorities right in this six-word board book. Having safely deposited his Teddy, Douglas relaxes – well that was his intention – in a Bath

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and indulges himself with his favourite preserve, then dons his Pyjamas and dressing gown ready for a spot of Book sharing …

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followed by a Hug (of course) and then everyone snuggles down in and around the Bed.
That, in a nutshell is it; but there’s so much going on in the illustrations that there’s at least one story on every spread.
There’s also a session of book sharing in:

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I Love My Mummy
Fhiona Galloway and Jonathan LittonLittle Tiger Kids,
Little Tiger Kids
Bright, cheery art work, die cuts and an assortment of humanised animals (other than the final one) are the key elements of this little rhyming ‘thank you to mum’ book published just in time for Mother’s Day. A calf, a little frog, a kitten, a bear,

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a young croc. a lamb and a bee all have their own ways of delivering the message and each has a floral offering for their very special mother, little bee’s being the most spectacular in my view.

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Animal mothers also feature in

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Baby Tiger
Baby Bear
illustrated by Yu-Hsuan Huang
Chronicle Books
A pair of tiny chunky board books each with a cute finger puppet, present some basic information about the respective baby animals and how they spend their days from early morning through to bedtime, and at the same time encourage playful interaction between the adult and infant sharing them. Book sharing is one of the very best experiences you can give your very young child to nurture his or her language and general cognition. When you read as if you’re having a conversation with your child it’s supplying brilliant brain food in addition to helping to develop that very special bond between you.

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Listen to the Music
Marion Billet
Nosy Crow
Half a dozen different animals strut their stuff as musicians herein: there’s recorder-playing Pig, Elephant the pianist, violinist Cat,

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a pair of guitar strumming Zebras, a couple of Bear drummers and finally Mouse tinkles on the xylophone. When you press the button on each instrument (once you’ve activated the switch inside the back cover, that is) the musician in question starts playing.
I have a suspicion this jolly little book will be played to destruction: it’s a fun way to introduce some musical instrument names to tinies and you could perhaps play a memory game: What did Elephant play? etc. Or turn it around: Which animal played the piano. No peeping on the final page though.

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Seasonal Scenes

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One Year with Kipper
Mick Inkpen
Hodder Children’s Books pbk
It’s January. Kipper has a new camera and he uses it to document a whole year, month by month. January is time for a New Year’s resolution (no throwing snowballs at best pal, Tiger). That lasts till February when the snow falls and an 87 centimetre icicle grows on Tiger’s house.

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March brings strong winds, April sees the pair catching tadpoles and so on with a double spread and a new photo for each month.
Seasonal changes are noted: In June Kipper notices an abundance of ‘little things with legs and wings’; whereas ‘October is an orangey brown sort of month,’ Tiger declares.

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When dark, cold December comes Kipper busies himself making decorations and taking the final photograph for Tiger’s present – a photographic memoir of the past twelve months.
A sweet, gently educational story of friendship, fun and frolics from a well-loved pair who take it in turns to have the upper hand …

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Great for individual sharing or early years classes to enjoy together.

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Littleland All Year Round
Marion Billet
Nosy Crow
Those who prefer to play I-spy rather than listening to a story have plenty to search for in Littleland. Starting with a chilly wintry morning, the animal inhabitants set out for nursery where they find many activities to enjoy and readers are invited to find various items in the busy scene. We then follow ‘the little ones’ through the seasons as they visit the countryside in spring …

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Come autumn, it’s time to visit the park,

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and dress up for Hallowe’en.
Wintry activities include ice-skating, tobogganing and building a snowman, and at the end of the year as Christmas draws near, there are decorations to make and hang, cards to make and presents to wrap just in time for a trip to town to see the Christmas tree in all its splendour.
Bright, jolly scenes, with objects to find in every spread.

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