Category Archives: Board Books

Dear Zoo

In this pint-sized variation on an epistolary novel, a child writes to a zoo asking for a pet. The zoo politely responds, sending a parade of exotic animals (packaged inside flaps to be lifted by the reader) that don’t work for one reason or another (the camel, for example, is too grumpy) and have to be sent back. Finally, there’s a perfect, doggy, ending. This is another fun book where our original copy didn’t survive the toddler years.

Author: Rod Campbell
Illustrator: Rod Campbell


I should have know we’d have to get a dog someday, given how popular this book was. Not quite as durable as Tails, by the same author, it was just as popular and I got a replacement copy when the first got too ragged. Very toddler friendly, it has plenty of things to touch, pull, and flip, plus it has cute pictures. If you’re squeamish, you may not appreciate a quick reference to doggie bodily functions, but the boys thought it was hilarious.

Author: Matthew Van Fleet
Illustrator: Brian Stanton

I Stink!

A rollicking rhyming scheme, a rough and ready narrator (a New York City trash truck), and plenty of gross-out humor make this lots of fun for the younger set. There’s even an ABC interlude (from Apple cores to Zipped-up ziti with zucchini). This was very popular for a long time at our house.

Author: Kate McMullan
Illustrator: Jim McMullan



This book used to be very popular and (rather amazingly) survived the boys’ toddler years without significant damage. There are some cute bouncy rhymes, but the big attraction were the sturdy interactive features: textures, scratch-and-sniff skunk, pull tabs, flaps, and lots of fur.

Author: Matthew Van Fleet
Illustrator: Matthew Van Fleet

Harry the Dirty Dog


Harry, a white dog with black spots, hates baths. But he loves exploring and getting dirty. After becoming a black dog with white spots (that his family doesn’t recognize), bathing suddenly becomes more appealing.

We enjoyed the Scholastic Video version of this simple, cute book a great deal when the boys were younger.

Author: Gene Zion
Illustrator: Margaret Bloy Graham

The Going to Bed Book


This was the book we read every night to our youngest when he was a young toddler. Like Goodnight Moon (the book we read every night to our oldest when he was that age), it isn’t about telling a story or making sense; it is about setting a mood that is cheerful, calm, sleepy, and safe. When you are picking a book to read over and over again, this is a very good choice. I especially enjoy the final lines:

The moon is high. The sea is deep.
They rock
and rock
and rock
to sleep.

Author: Sandra Boynton
Illustrator: Sandra Boynton

Curious George and the Puppies


I don’t think the original Curious George books have aged well. They strike me as sad, dark, and scary; they weren’t my favorites when I was a kid and I haven’t read them to the boys. But this book (although written by a ghost writer and drawn by a committee) has a really sweet story and stands well alone. George’s curiosity doesn’t lead to him being kidnapped, endangered, and/or jailed; instead it frees a mother dog to find her lost puppy. The lap sized board book version is perfect for toddlers and young preschoolers.

Author: Unknown ghostwriter
Illustrator: Vipach Interactive in the style of Margret & H.A. Rey

The Napping House


There is a house,
a napping house,
where everyone is sleeping.

And in that house
there is a bed,
a cozy bed
in a napping house,
where everyone is sleeping.

A beautifully-illustrated rainy day, cozy bed, sleepy family, and unexpected visitor combine with gently-rhythmic prose to create a warm and funny book.

Author:  Audrey Wood
Illustrator: Don Wood


Moo, Baa, La La La!


“No, no!” you say,
“that isn’t right.
The pigs say
all day and night.”

This book has eleven sentences; there isn’t really a plot. It is just an excuse for spending time with toddlers making animal sounds, telling jokes they can understand, and sending them off to bed giggling.

Author: Sandra Boynton
Illustrator: Sandra Boynton

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear


An adorable mouse, a succulent strawberry, a possible threat to the strawberry, and a narrator with an ulterior motive make for a cute tale that charms kids and amuses adults.  This is a great one to read aloud with much dramatic flair.

Authors:  Don and Audrey Wood
Illustrator:  Don Wood