Board books are a fantastic, sturdy and hand-fitting way for babies and toddlers to learn about the world. These brand-new books are innovative, modern and incredibly fun.
"House" by Michael Slack; Chronicle Books; $18.99.
Shaped like a house, this boxed set of five board books introduces first words using different parts of a house — living room, bathroom, kitchen, garage and bedroom — with the books all fitting inside. This smart concept promotes early vocabulary development, pattern recognition and open-ended play. And the box will thrill tots who love to tote things around. But the set's star feature is its mid-century modern artwork on every board page, with muted colors and shapes straight out of the 1950s. Parents will enjoy this book set as much as kids, with an olive green vintage sofa, a retro rounded orange car and even a black cat perched on a modern green toilet.
"A Pile of Leaves" by Jason Fulford & Tamara Shopsin; Phaidon; 22 pages; $18.99.
Also retro-tinged, this autumn-colored book begins with an acetate page with a yellow leaf and trim. Tots can browse the page to see a red leaf and some orange ones. As kids turn the pages, they peel back layers of the leaf pile collage, which eventually ends up on the left-hand side of the book. They'll also have fun spotting other things amid the leaves, including a snake, a key and a mitten.
Inspired by the way artists see the world, "A Pile of Leaves" is published with the Whitney Museum of American Art and ends with the names of each kind of leaf and item in the pile.
"Peek-a-Who?" by Elsa Mroziewicz; Michael Neugebauer Edition/Minedition; 44 pages; $11.99.
Triangle-shaped with a dog's face on the cover, this lift-the-flap book begins by asking "Who says Woof Woof?" and unveils a friendly dog waving its paws. Next up, kids open flaps with "Who says Meow?" and spot an artsy-painted cat with large ears; then a snake, pig, cow, turkey and more. Each animal is decorated beautifully, adding an element of high art to the glossy geometric pages. Babies will enjoy figuring out which sounds comes from what animal, and will have fun lifting the unique flaps.
"Hush Now, Banshee!" "Monster ABC" and "Get Dressed, Sasquatch!" by Derek Sullivan & Kyle Sullivan; Hazy Dell Press; 30 pages each; $14 each.
Rhyming picture books are prevalent, but rollicking, fun ones are rarer. These three thick board books star monsters, from a blue mermaid-like banshee to a bearded Sasquatch who doesn't like wearing clothes, as well as a whole alphabet of other hilarious creatures. Perfect for Halloween season, these three books feature incredibly imaginative and funny artwork. "Monster ABC" has decidedly kid-friendly rhyming wording: "G is for Ghost who gave us a start, H is for Hobgoblin who smells like fart." Older preschoolers will enjoy the hilarity while learning letters in "Monster ABC," counting in "Hush Now, Banshee!" and acceptance in "Get Dressed, Sasquatch!"
"Hats of Faith" by Medeia Cohan; illustrated by Sarah Walsh; Chronicle Books; 12 pages; $9.99.
With colorful friendly faces on the pages and sparse text, kids will learn about the customs of head coverings, gently encouraging tolerance and equality. Early pages introduce a lady wearing a hijab, a man with a Rasta hat, a boy with a Sikh patka and a girl donning a traditional Jewish tichel. The book's last page reads, "Learning about each other makes it easy to be more understanding. Being understanding helps us spread love and peace." Featuring nine head coverings in all, "Hats of Faith" will entertain young children, who will enjoy seeing all the unique faces, too.
To find out more about Lee Littlewood, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.