Sandra Boynton has had children’s books in print for the past 40+ years, ever since publishing “Hippos Go Berserk” in 1977. Her distinctive and very recognizable illustration style may be more familiar from her many, many calendars, coffee mugs, and cards. By her own estimate, she has drawn between 4,000 and 6,000 greeting cards! Her most famous is probably the birthday card that reads, “Hippo Birdie Two Ewes”
We have several of her 60+ children’s board books and they are an easy and popular gift to give and receive. The drawing style is fun and whimsical and the “stories”, as simple as they are, are great for read-along time. Our kids essentially memorize entire books and then can read along with us.
Her most popular books include “Moo, Baa, La La La!”, “The Going to Bed Book”, “Barnyard Dance”, “A to Z”, “Blue Hat, Green Hat”, and “Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs!” A complete list of her books is on her Wikipedia page
She also has several children’s music albums, including:
“Rhinoceros Tap” (1996)
“Philadelphia Chickens” (2002)
“Dog Train” (2005)
“Blue Moo” (2007)
“Boléro Completely Unraveled” (2010)
“Frog Trouble” (2013)
“Hog Wild” (2017)
Our kids love “Philadelphia Chickens” in particular.
More information about her books at sandraboynton.com
And The Atlantic has a charming article on her (2019/11)
What is it
Mouse Paint is a charming board book by Ellen Stoll Walsh that teaches primary and secondary colors. It reminded me a bit of the classic Color Kittens although Mouse Paint has its own style.
Who is it for
It’s a book to read to a toddler who is interested in colors and is learning color words, so children aged 1 to 3 would get the most out of it.
What Kids Like
The drawings are charming and the mice are cute. They are busy, getting into things. I don’t know whether the kids relate to that, but I think so. With books aimed at very young children, it’s often hard to know exactly why they like something. But our 2-year-old asked to read this about five times yesterday, which I consider a positive review.
What Parents Like
The art is appealing, enough that my attention is kept, even when reading it for the fifth time. There is just enough going on that the parent and child can have a conversation about what’s happening. The book encourages communication and engages the child, rather than simply letting them passively listen.
What the Critics Think
Barnes & Noble gives Mouse Paint 4.1/5
GoodReads gives Mouse Paint 4.2/5
Who Made it / History
Ellen Stoll Walsh is an author and illustrator, who has been creating children’s books for the past several decades from her studio in Baltimore.
Her other mouse-themed books for young children include Mouse Count, Mouse Shapes, and her Dot and Jabber series. And she uses frog characters as well in books such as Hop Jump
Mouse Paint was first published in 1989 and remains in print. You should be able to find it easily.
There are so many board books available for little kids, and it’s hard to know in advance which ones kids will actually like.
This is one of the few that our little ones keep pulling off the shelf
What is it
Shake a Leg! is a stanard-sized board book with a dozen spreads with drawings of Sesame Street Muppets rubbing their tummies, patting their heads, etc. With each picture there is an associated movement and sound.
Who is it for
This book is ideal for a child that is old enough to be read to and still learning body parts and basic sounds.
What Kids Like
The kids like that the book is essentially an ultra-simple yoga routine instruction. Reading it together becomes a fun 5 minutes of movement together.
What Parents Like
I like that the book, with its movement, is different from most other books. It gets me out of the chair and it’s fun for both of us.
What the Critics Think
GoodReads gives it 4.3/5. Amazon gives it 4.8/5
Who Made it
The book was written by Constance Allen, who has written dozens of books based on Sesame Street characters. The illustrations are by Maggie Swanson, who has illustrated several dozen kids’ books, many of which are Sesame Street books.
The book was first published in 2010 as part of the Big Bird’s Favorite Board Book series.
Some books become standard objects in the home, as familiar as a piece of furniture. And this is one of them. I couldn’t say why exactly because the story and illustrations are so simple, but perhaps that is part of the reason.
Regardless, this is one of the few books that many of us in the family will quote, even if months have passed since the most recent reading – the most popular quote being, “Duck for dinner?!?!?!?!”
The story is of a group of animal friends who are all afraid of the local dog, but it turns out that he’s actually nice. So the themes are of friendship, overcoming fear, and not judging someone solely on appearances.
A fun book to read aloud with a kid because of all the different voices.
Like all the books on this site, this is one that our kids pull off the shelf and ask to be read over and over. A difference here is that they’ve been hearing this book being read longer than they can even remember.
The theme is of comforting a child who is nervous about the dark and about going to sleep. But the real appeal to kids, as far as I can tell, is in the charming (and surreal) drawings of rabbits and foxes floating in bubbles up in the night sky.
And the appeal to parents is that it puts into words all the sweet and loving thoughts we want to express to our kids as we put them to bed.
This is one of the essential books on our board book shelf.
Originally published: 2005
Author: Mike Jolley
Illustrator: Mique Moriuchi
There are plenty of collections of nursery rhymes, partly because the text is not copyrighted and publishers don’t have to pay author royalties. But nursery rhymes remain popular among young children because they are fun and the simple rhymes make them a good too when learning to read. It’s easy to memorize a line such as “Mary, Mary, quite contrary” from hearing a parent read it. So then, when the child is sounding out words on their own, and get to the relatively difficult word, “contrary”, they can recall the rhyme and figure it out.
This particular collection is more British than most Americanized sets of nursery rhymes. For example, American collections typically don’t include traditional rhymes such as, “I had a little nut tree” or “Ride a cock horse”. So in some ways this feels like a more “authentic” set.
The drawings are very simple, but for whatever reason, our kids keep pulling this book off the shelf for us to read together.
This is one of the books that has survived multiple children. It’s been chewed on, dropped, thrown, left under couches and sofas, and traveled with us to faraway places.
It’s only a few pages, with a handful of words, but this gets the A+ seal of approval from our kids.
This is actually one in a series. There is a box set with all of them.
We bought these two books when we lived in Hawai’i and were standard bedtime reading for our two-year-old, even after we moved to the mainland. They were precious enough to lug with us.
The drawings are fun and there is enough Hawai’ian imagery and references for the stories to feel a bit ‘exotic’ to some children, but no so much that they seem strange.
The Geckos Go To Bed story is very silly, with about 20 geckos jumping in and out of bed, knocking over the lamp, spilling milk, etc. So you may want this to be the first book of the night, not the last, because it is a bit stimulating.
Jon J. Murakami has several other books in his gecko series as well.
This is a board book about vegetables (obviously) and opposites (above/below, inside/outside, etc.) and also has textures on the pages that the kids can feel.
It’s a simple book but one of the popular ones. Our 4-year-old even pulls it out sometimes.
It’s hard to know what books will resonate with a child, but this one sure did. Even a year or two after first reading it, our four-year-old still pulls it off the shelf and wants us to read it.