Board Book Miscellany

Goodnight, Rainbow Cats
Barbara Castro Urio
Chronicle Books

The setting is a big white house wherein sleeps Little Red Cat. How do we know this? Because on the recto we see a die-cut window coloured red, while opposite on the verso is a Little Green Cat about to cross the book’s gutter and enter the door of the house. And the text bids ‘Goodnight, Little Red Cat.’

When the page is turned it’s evident that the Little Green Cat is now inside and Little Yellow Cat (from the verso) will be next to enter.

All the while the narration is presented in a conversational style above the awaiting cat. For instance we read, ‘Up to a room in the big white house!/ Goodnight, Little Yellow Cat. / Look who is waiting outside. / It’s Little Brown Cat! / Where are you going, / Little Brown Cat?’ (Each new cat is introduced with its own colour font which will help little ones predict what colour window will appear next in the house.)

When all twelve cats are safely indoors and asleep in the big white house it’s time to bid ‘Goodnight, rainbow cats!’A fun bedtime wind down for little humans and one that’s sufficiently strongly built to stand up to the frequent readings youngsters will likely insist on.

A to Z Menagerie
Suzy Ultman
Chronicle Books

With wonderfully quirky illustrations some of which have lovely touches (the horse wears ‘high-tops’) Suzy Ultman has created a distinctive board book picture dictionary with a pullout tab highlighting each letter.

Every page features one letter that fills up with colour when its tab (placed halfway down the edge) is pulled; for instance the C becomes a caterpillar and O an owl.

The vocabulary is interesting and will likely introduce young users of the book to new words such as axolotyl, challah, iguana, pennant and zooplankton, as well as including some vocabulary you might expect.

The whole alphabet is introduced by a page inviting little ones to “look and touch’ and there’s a concluding A to Z asking users to choose a favourite discovery.
Idiosyncratic, gently educational and great fun.

Now for two Nosy Crow titles new in board book format both of which were smashing picture books previously featured on this blog:

Neon Leon
Jane Clarke & Britta Teckentrup

A book about a chameleon that’s great for audience participation and features colours, counting, camouflage and different environments.

There’s a Bear on My Chair
Ross Collins

This features a little mouse upon whose chair a huge bear has placed his bottom and it’s clearly going to be a difficult task to get him to shift it. So much so that the little rodent narrator decides that the only solution is to quit the scene and let his paws take him elsewhere.
Wonderfully droll illustrations and a superb monologue in a small package for small hands.

At the Beach, On the Farm, In the Forest, Under the Ocean
illustrated by Nancy Bevington
Catch a Star Books

Four Can You Find? board books designed to encourage the very youngest to learn new words are illustrated by Nancy Bevington. Her brightly coloured, amusing images of animals, plants and the occasional human are clearly labelled.

Of the eight double spreads in each book, the first seven are introduced by a sentence such as ‘Under the ocean there are …’, or ‘At the beach there is … ‘ and the final one asks ‘Can you find all the things under the … ? inviting users to turn back and look again at the previous pages.

Adults/infants can play other games such as finding all the things with wheels in the Farm book; there’s plenty of potential for extending the use of each book depending on the interest of the little one involved.

A Bear on a Chair, A Tearful Teddybear

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There’s a Bear On My Chair
Ross Collins
Nosy Crow
There’s a bear on my chair,” declares the grumpy-looking mouse. Well, wouldn’t you be annoyed if you found an enormous white ursine character had plonked itself on your favourite piece of furniture and was refusing to budge despite your best efforts.

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Especially when said bear then proceeds to peruse the paper, attend to his coiffeur and cannot even to be tempted to shift with a juicy pear.
This is just not on – well I suppose it is, if you’re the bear – but our tiny friend is determined to reclaim his seat so scaring is his next move. But …

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seemingly this bear is not for moving. Hold on a minute, do I detect a slight shift …

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so what is all that about?
Completely at a loss, the despairing narrator mouse finally decides to quit the scene but whither do his little paws take him? Well, that would be telling wouldn’t it?
A resounding cheer – and another – and another for Ross Collins and his glorious two hander, or should that be monologue perhaps? Whichever, it’s superb.
The comic timing is spot on and what a gift to the adult reader aloud. This one has had terrific fun sharing it with groups of listeners wherever she can get a chair. And those illustrations speak volumes – I’d love to show you every single one but you’ll just have to get your paws on a copy of the book for that.

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Cheer Up Your Teddy Bear, Emily Brown!
Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton
Hodder Children’s Books pbk
In this, the fourth title to feature Emily Brown and her rabbit Stanley, the two are indoors on a wet day playing at camping in the Australian Outback when they hear a PLIP! PLOP! seemingly coming from the toy box. Therein they find a somewhat soggy, very tearful little teddy singing plaintively about her loneliness.

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Emily invites the troubled ted to accompany them on their camping adventure in the hope of cheering her up and off the three go. But does this have the desired mood lifting effect? Oh dear no, so Emily undaunted (as yet) suggests a trip to the Yellowstone Park

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but although Emily Brown and Stanley have a great time bear spotting the grizzlies, black bears and others (despite the lack of other teddies), this too fails to lift the mood of Tearful Teddy.
What about the third attempt? Their south of France, Van Gogh efforts must surely do the trick …

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Goodness me NO! What a misery guts their ursine companion is. Eventually that large black cloud engulfs not only Tearful Teddy, but Emily Brown and Stanley too.
Time for some drastic action, thinks Emily B. Out comes her red brolly with a SWOOOOOOOOOOOSH!! And, there before their eyes up pop …

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a dozen little teddies needing a temporary shelter from their picnic. They explain their initial reluctance to include Tearful Ted in their fun and she tries explaining her lack of smile. Emily Brown of course, in her unflappable way, is ready to help with a ‘rediscover your smile plan’ and all ends smilingly – despite another shower.
Another super read aloud and a real testament to young children’s imagination. It’s great for starting an exploration of feelings indicating that sometimes it’s OK to feel sad, particularly when there are friends to help you cheer up.
My audiences have loved joining in with Tearful Ted’s increasingly long song; some clapped at the umbrella-opening incident and immediately demanded a re-read at the end. Two 5 year olds even left the room singing Tearful Ted’s song.

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A group of 4s to 9s created a teddybears’ picnic for Tearful Ted


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