The coveted national book awards have just been announced! The Caldecott medal winner (which is awarded to the best of the picture books) is A Ball For Daisy by Chris Raschka. And the honor winners (which are the runners-up) are Blackout by John Rocco, Grandpa Green by Lane Smith and Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell. The Newbery medal winner (which is geared for older kids) is Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos. The honor winners are Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai and Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin. I will write more about these winners at a later date.

Books written for babies and toddlers are the best time to get youngsters involved and excited about reading. I’ve organized these outstanding books into several categories and all are board books, unless indicated, which prevents babies and toddlers from ruining the pages. The first category is books with great, yet simple, stories. Most often board books are reissues of popular children’s books that are geared for toddlers and younger.

HN HouseintheNight The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson, and artistically illustrated by Beth Krommes, is a simply told story with few words, but with a powerful message. A young girl comes to her house and enters her room where she finds a book that whisks her away to the skies and back home again. The unique usage of black and white to signify the night, with a marmalade dash of color throughout emphasizing light, is brilliant. This book won the Caldecott award a few years ago.

Little Bear’s Little Boat by Eve Bunting, and painted with a simple palate of color by Nancy Carpenter, is a sweet story about dealing with growing and changing. Little Bear loves his little boat but when he outgrows it, he finds a solution of what to do with his prize possession.

Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae, and painted with vibrant full-spread watercolor by Guy Parker-Rees, is a delightful story about a giraffe who can’t dance like all his jungle friends. It takes a very small critter to help him believe in himself and boost his self esteem.

 The next books feature flaps, pull-tabs, sound and texture. Disney Baby: Nursery Rhymes by Denise Scott, showcases photos of babies, which seems to draw babies into books with pictures of babies. This book of simple rhymes has flaps to lift on every page.

Little Scholastic: Please and Thank You! by Jill Ackerman, and brightly illustrated by Michelle Berg, states simple requests by a youngster. “What’s the magic word? Please!” Open each flap and you’ll find a “Thank You!”

Animals on the Farm, by Chris Hernandez, features four animals that are photographed on each page. The child can select the picture of the animal to push which makes the sound of that animal.

The new Noodles series for youngsters has two new books that feature different textures enjoyed by young tykes. Noodle Loves Bedtime and Noodle Loves to Cuddle both by Marion Billet, include fur, sticky and felt.

Splish Splash! by Amy Schimler, is similar but the texture also makes sounds (such as the tin foil and the velcro). The color used in all three books is rich and vibrant.

N bizzy bearBizzy Bear by Benji Davies, is another new series for the youngest child which features sturdy tabs to pull and sliders to move without breakage or tearing.

Fun on the Farm and Let’s Go and Play! are two new publications that are fun to read. Babies can enjoy cloth books that are soft to the touch. Maisy’s Snuggle Book by Lucy Cousins, is bright red and snuggle soft with the simple daily activities youngsters can relate to.N Maisys snuggle book

Very young children become very engaged by looking at authentic animals. Kingfisher publications has several new books featuring colorful full page photos of familiar animals. All four books are titled Baby Animals and each with the title: Pets, In The Forest, In The Jungle and In The Grasslands.

Random House has a new book with a similar format featuring actual photos. Busy Elephants by John Schindel, and photographed by Martin Harrvey, showcases these giant mammals.

These last books feature simple concepts to teach the very young but are quite inventive. Simon Basher has two new books which utilize his talent for portraying the concept with a simple use of color and space. These two books are Colors and Shapes.

Feelings by Kristen Balouch, is a chock-a-block book with brightly painted animals simply expressing how they feel and opening easy discussions on each expression.

HN AKissForYouA Kiss For You! by Joan Holub, and brightly painted by Caroline Jayne Church, is a very inventive book teaching the many things a hand can do. With a hand that wraps around the end of the book, you can attach the hand to each page demonstrating a “high-five”, blowing a kiss and waving hello.

Yawn by Sally Symes, and creatively painted by Nick Sharratt, exhibits how contagious yawns are when a young boy yawns and animals catch it. There is a large circle die-cut making up the mouth of each animal portrayed here.

Color Play: An Interactive Pop-Art Book by Romero Britto, is a brilliantly interactive book that has colorful pieces found at the back ready to insert into each page to complete the unfinished pictures portrayed with vivid swatches of color.

HN verythingAnd lastly, Everything I Need To Know Before I’m Five by Valorie Fisher, is the only book that is not a board book. This regular-sized picture book really does have a nice composite of the basic concepts youngsters find helpful to know before entering Kindergarten. Some of these concepts include numbers, letters and shapes. Ms. Fisher used actual objects for the pictures.

Holly E. Newton, M. A.

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