Global Board Books for Worldly Babies

Alison Morris - February 8, 2008

Suddenly, finally, I’m noticing a lot of wonderful new multicultural board books appearing on the market. Not that I will ever tire of hand-selling Baby Born by Anastasia Suen or "More, More, More," Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams, but it’s nice to adding so many new favorites to the mix!

Global Babies
by The Global Fund for Children (Charlesbridge, June 2007)

Our store is not the only one to embrace this board book and include it on our list of last year’s best. I’ve heard many other booksellers tout their love for this book, which is noteworthy for its simplicity and effectiveness. Each page shows a photograph of a baby in their native country, which is identified on the page, sporting their everyday clothes, doing their everyday baby things, and being loved for them. The complete text of the book reads as follows: "Wherever they live, / wherever they go, / whatever they wear, / whatever they feel, / babies everywhere / are beautiful, / special, / and loved." What baby anywhere doesn’t need to hear that message? And what better way to give a baby or toddler a taste of the wider world than to give them this book? (It’s certainly a lot easier than taking them on flights to Spain, Guatemala, Rwanda, Iraq, Greenland, Thailand, South Africa, Peru, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Fiji, Mali, India, and Malawi.)

Baby! Baby!
by Vicky Ceelen (Random House, January 2008)

Wordless entertainment is what this book contains. Each spread shows a photo of a baby on one side, an animal sporting a similar posture or facial expression on the other. A solid colored border around each page makes the photos pop. You can’t help but laugh at thes entertaining similarities here between baby and beast.

There are a couple of online galleries that show some of Vicky’s photographic comparisons. The images of giraffe + baby and bunny rabbit + baby in gallery one appear in this book. So do the gorilla + baby in gallery three, and the frog + baby in gallery four. To see the others, you’ll just have to "read" this wordless book!

Haiku Baby
by Betsy E. Snyder (Random House, May 2008)

While this new board book doesn’t feature images of babies like the others, I love that it brings the Japanese art of haiku down to an infant level. Bright, colorful collage illustrations pay homage on nature, on spreads that each feature a different 17-syllable poem. The titles of said poems are written in both English and Japanese. Here’s one, just to give you a taste:

yoo-hoo, peekaboo!
wind plays tag with autumn leaf —
catch me if you can!



Circle + Square / Circulo + Cuadro by Jill Hartley (Groundwood Books, April 2008)

Colors + Flavors / Colores + Sabores by Jill Hartley (Groundwood Books, April 2008)

Red + Green / Rojo + Verde by Jill Hartley (Groundwood Books, April 2008)

Stripes + Arrows / Rayas + Flechas by Jill Hartley (Groundwood Books, April 2008)

These wordless board books feature some of the brightest, most interesting photos I’ve seen on the cardboard page. Beautiful, bold shots of objects, signs, children, and scenery from Hartley’s native Mexico fill their pages, making each one a visual feast. Fantastico! Groundwood Books’ Web site adds this note to the info. about each of Hartley’s books: "Coming Soon: A new Board Books setion of our web site with a glossary of the book’s objects in English and Spanish!" This will be especially useful to readers baffled by some of the things they’re seeing. (Just think — that must be how babies feel all the time!)

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