Thursday, May 8, 2014

Board Book Bias?

I've noticed over the past couple of years that a lot of popular picture books have been condensed into board books. The art is still great, but the stories and concepts often suffer. Plus, as was pointed out in a Horn Book article from nearly twenty years ago, publishers seem to put much less thought into making original board books (designed specifically for toddlers) than they do repackaging $ making picture books.

Here are a few examples of books that were written for older kids but are now available for toddlers, On the Night You Were Born, Little Blue Truck, and Giraffes Can't Dance. These are great 32 page picture books with colorful illustrations, but I'm not convinced a toddler will understand the concepts (e.g. self esteem) as the author intended when it is shortened to a handful of pages. 

Silly me, but writers and illustrators are directed by agents, editors and publishing contracts to write for a designated age group. A completed story is worked and reworked to fit into the intended category with age appropriate words, art, etc. 

So, it seems important to speak up in support of writers who write original board books! Writer/illustrator Sandra Boynton comes to mind. 

By the way, I admit I have a huge writer crush on Sandra's ability to tell a complete story in a very short word count. (Plus I love her art!) Books like Blue Hat, Green Hat (which we call the "Oops! book" at our house), Doggies, and The Going to Bed Book are wonderful for 1-2 year olds because they are written for them.

Anyway, it's something to think about as writers and book buyers. I know what I plan to do. What do you think? Who are your favorite board book authors/illustrators? - Q

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