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31 Days, 31 Lists: 2020 Board Book Reprints & Adaptations

Whew! After yesterday’s listing of new board books of 2020 I think I need a little breather. Fortunately today’s list is what I’d call “handsome”. Quick and succinct without a drop of fat on it.

Every year publishers attempt to squeeze full picture books into board book formats. The results are singularly mixed. At the same time, some board books get a second chance on the market. We celebrate today those books that really add something special to our bookshelves. Yes, we are happy they exist.


2020 Board Book Reprints & Adaptations

Before We Eat by Pat Brisson, ill. Mary Azarian

Well that little picture book to board book transition worked better than I expected! Not that I disliked the original but I didn’t really know how nicely this peek into where our food comes from would adapt for younger readers. Turns out, quite well. The original book came out in 2014, and at its heart it’s really about giving thanks for the good things we eat. The kind of book that’ll be welcome equally at Farmer’s Markets as well as Thanksgiving storytimes.

Harris Finds His Feet by Catherine Rayner

Considering how big a Rayner fan I am, I was shocked to discover that this book was originally released in 2008. You know a board book is good when you get to the end and then start scouring the publication page to see whether or not it was a full-blown picture book first. It wasn’t until I looked at the author/illustrator’s name that it all began to click. Rayner…. Rayner… why do I know that name. Ah yes! That was the person behind that other rather remarkable picture book One Happy Tiger (which was crowned a Mathical Honor Book not long ago). You won’t find math in this outing but you will find that once again she’s taken a topic or form that’s already been done to death in books for kids and made it feel fresh and nuanced. This book is about a little hare with very large feet. The feet, as it turns out, have a multitude of uses. It’s simple but the art and the writing are more than above par. There’s something infinitely charming about these seemingly simple watercolors. A forward-thinking U.S. publisher would show a whole lotta smarts if they got this Edinburgh-based artist to start making some books for the American market on a more regular basis. Just sayin’.

Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel

Oh, my goodness me, yes! Naturally I loved the original Hello, Hello but something always felt like it was missing. Now I know what it was. It just needed a tinier format, that’s all! Turns out Wenzel’s style is perfectly suited for board book adaptations. Animals are paired together based on superfluous similarities. The proboscis monkey and the elephant seal have impresses schnozzes, while the tiger salamander and the tiger itself are beautifully striped. The animals are named in the back for adults like myself who might find themselves at a loss when a small child points to a bicolor dottyback and asks, “What’s that one?” Plus it’s gorgeous to page through. Just the most delightful adaptation. Well done, Chronicle!

Snakes On a Train by Kathryn Dennis

Brakesnake, heh heh heh. Classic. I’m sorry I’m such a pushover for a funny snake book, but this title makes a lot more sense in its new board book state than it ever did as a picture book. First off, it pairs brilliantly alongside such books as Freight Train by Donald Crews. Very similar color scheme, size, and look. Second, it’s funny (see: aforementioned Brakesnake). I love how the hisssssss of the train echoes the hissssssss of the passengers. Toddlers love trains. Smarter beings than I could explain to you why that is. Whatever the case, if you’re looking for a new board book train title, this is the one to grab.

This Is a Book of Shapes by Kenneth Kraegel

Okay, I’m gonna give this one to Candlewick, though there is definitely a level of sophistication here that’s gonna go right over the heads of the babies and toddlers that read it. The preschoolers, depending on the reading, might get it, though. Essentially, this presents itself as a very standard shape book. Circle. Square. Triangle. And then . . . . “This is an emu pushing a pancake wagon down a hill.” Now if the grown-up reading this plays it off as incredibly ridiculous and really puts their back into their huffiness (I can already hear them blustering, “Is that a shape? I don’t think that’s a shape. Isn’t this a shape book?”) I’ll bet you that you’ll have some kids utterly amused by the ridiculousness of it all. Did this book HAVE to be a board book? No, but if it amuses the older siblings and, let’s face it, the adults reading as well, I’d say it’s worth it in the end.

CORRECTION: Sharp-eyed reader, Beth, pointed out to me (correctly) that this book is, in fact, a board book first and foremost. At no point was it ever a picture book. Color me baffled! I’m not sure how I got the impression that it had ever been a picture book in its passed. Well, I’m just glad I got it onto SOME list this year, but my face is red. Thanks for the catch, Beth!


Want to see other lists? Check out what happened this month!

December 1 – Great Board Books

December 2 – Board Book Reprints & Adaptations

December 3 – Transcendent Holiday Picture Books

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Funny Picture Books

December 7 – CaldeNotts

December 8 – Picture Book Reprints

December 9 – Math Books for Kids

December 10 – Bilingual Books

December 11 – Books with a Message

December 12 – Fabulous Photography

December 13 – Translated Picture Books

December 14 – Fairy Tales / Folktales / Religious Tales

December 15 – Wordless Picture Books

December 16 – Poetry Books

December 17 – Unconventional Children’s Books

December 18 – Easy Books & Early Chapter Books

December 19 – Comics & Graphic Novels

December 20 – Older Funny Books

December 21 – Science Fiction Books

December 22 – Fantasy Books

December 23 – Informational Fiction

December 24 – American History

December 25 – Science & Nature Books

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Books for Older Readers

December 29 – Best Audiobooks for Kids

December 30 – Middle Grade Novels

December 31 – Picture Books

Enjoy!

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About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. Ellen Myrick says

    Catherine Rayner has a new book this season that is equally lovely: Arlo the Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep (Peachtree). Thanks for this list, Betsy!

  2. Judy Weymouth says

    There have been times when I have used board books that were first issued as picture books and the durability factor is definitely a plus over a paperback picture book when used by many children. Usually I prefer the child be presented with the original at the appropriate time rather than an adaption for a younger child.

  3. I believe This is a Book of Shapes is a board book original, isn’t it?

    • Well, I’ll be darned. You are 100% correct about that. Ha! Kooky. I was convinced it was a picture book first. Well, there you go. There’s always a mistake in there somewhere. Good catch!