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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Board books 1 Great, 1 okay

Recently I was packing up new baby care packages and decided to add two board books. While I did this, I realized that one of these board books was okay and would be held by a child, tossed around, chewed upon, and fall apart to be tossed away (and, no, I’m not telling).  The other board book was special. It has gone on my list of books to give any family with a new baby.  Take a look at this list on GoodReads and think about what’s on your top 10 list of gifts to give at a baby shower. Of course, Pat the Bunny comes to mind, but what am I adding to the keeper list? Little Black Book by Renee Khatami.

Little Black Book by Renee Khatami. Randam House, 2011. 978-0-375-87235-8 $8.99 Publisher’s description: Black is the new black in this darkly tantalizing touch-and-feel extravaganza for the senses! Now babies can enjoy this daring color in a novelty board book chock-full of gorgeous, full-color photographs. There are textures to touch, a flap surprise, and the scratch ‘n’ sniff scent of sweet licorice that you can almost taste!

I absolutely love this little book. It is disarming. You hold the front cover and don’t anticipate the pleasure you will get from opening the book. The front cover does mention the Little Black Book is meant to: touch and feel, scratch and sniff, and lift the flap. The first page begins “black is… the soft fur on my big pet bunny.”

Aha! A Pat the Bunny moment. Not the little white bunny here, no, this is a photograph of a beautiful black bunny with soft touchable fur meant to stroke. You continue on to discover a sparkling night sky, a magician’s hat, a bat, smelly licorice, smooth velvet for dress-up, and even a funny cat mask with touchable whiskers.

Why do I love this title so much? The photographs are beautiful, clear, and joyful, plus the celebration of all things black redeems those who love the color black best of all. (Here’s to you, #1 son!) Black is beautiful and embraced in these 14 pages.

If you visit an early childhood classroom and ask students their favorite color, you’ll notice teachers encourage students to name blue, green, purple, red, yellow, and orange. Teachers actively discourage students from naming black, white, brown, tan, and grey. It’s as if there is a list of acceptable colors and a list of those other colors that exist. Do you have a color bias? When my oldest son was picking items to decorate his bedroom at 5 years old, he consistently chose black because it was his favorite color. To this day, he still has black sheets and black blankets. He isn’t goth. He just loves black.

In fact, now that I think about it, I believe I need to go back and purchase a copy of this book for my school library for any color units to support preschool and kindergarten. I may have sent my publisher’s review copy to my new step-granddaughter, but I know I will be buying many more copies as gifts for friends. Schools and public libraries could use this title as it transcends the format.