Snuggle the Baby by Sara Gillingham

Sara Gillingham is yet another designer and art director who continues to bring her talents to the happily expanding world of quality board books. Her most most recent work as an illustrator and author has been for for abramsappleseed, an newer imprint dedicated to engaging children and adults with "artful, beautifully conceived books." As the Design Director for Children's Publishing at Chronicle Books, an early leader in bringing quality board books to the shelves, Gillingham she designed and art directed hundreds of books, including a few of her own you can see below. For abramsappleseed
, Gillingham illustrated a wonderful trio of board books by Stephen Krensky celebrating the momentous milestones in the lives of toddlers, I Know A Lot, Now I Am Big! and I Can Do It Myself!

Now Gillingham brings her retro style, wonderful palette and eye for patterns and design to her own book with the interactive Snuggle the Baby. "Feed, tickle, diaper, swaddle, shush, rock, tuck in" could be the subtitle for Snuggle the Baby, a unique doll-meets-book experience. I'm sure you all are familiar with the cloth books that have a baby doll (or teddy bear) that is tethered to the book and can be tucked into various pockets on the pages? Snuggle the Baby is similar to this format, but better! While the cloth books that invite readers to interact with the baby-on-a-string are adorable, how many babies can really fit the doll into the small pockets? With Gillingham's brilliantly conceived book, toddlers can interact in a way that is simpler and easier and ultimately, less frustrating for little people with short fuses...

Besides being invited to take care of the baby in the book, readers are encouraged to do what the babies in Snuggle the Baby are doing as well. The book begins, "Babies love to play! Sometimes babies like peekaboo. Other times babies like to make noise." Next the narrator says, "I like to TICKLE my baby's belly . . . LIKE THIS!" And, as seen in the illustrations above, readers can lift up the baby's shirt and tickle away, most likely while getting tickled by the person they are reading the book with at the same time! Another page lets readers lift the baby's arms and play, "SO BIG!"

"Babies need to eat!" another page tells us. Readers can pop the bottle out of the page and feed the baby! Next comes a diaper change, with a diaper to close and a onesie to "snap" shut. And, as well all know, babies can get cranky. The penultimate page of Snuggle the Baby lets readers fold baby up in a cozy blanket. The swaddled baby is also a pop-out, like the bottle, and, when removed, can be snuggled and rocked then tucked into bed on the last page, a cloth blanket and a velcro closure holding the baby in place snugly.

I realize that I probably didn't have to give you a step-by-step description of Snuggle the Baby, but this book is so completely adorable and fun, every time I open it I get sucked in. I wish Snuggle the Baby had been around when my babies were little!

Sarah Gillingham's other interactive board books are tipped a bit in favor of visual over narrative, but they are so beautifully illustrated, cleverly conceived and fun that I had to mention them here.

In My JungleIn My Ocean
On My LeafIn My Tree
In My DenIn My Forest

Source: Review Copy

You Are My Baby - Ocean and You Are My Baby - Garden by Lorena Siminovich

Last year Julie Bosman wrote an article for the New York Times about big changes for the humble, previously overlooked board book. Bosman, who noted that the board book was "once designed to be chewed as much as read," quoted Ginee Seo, children's publishing director at Chronicle Books on the changes. Seo noted that we are "in this era of mass good design for everybody. You're seeing good design at Target; you can buy Jonathan Adler at Barnes & Noble. You're nost willing to accept the cheesy clip are on a board book." Seo's quote is especially appropriate since Chronicle, followed in the past year by AbramsAppleseed, has been leading the way now for years with board books that exhibit attention to design and content that makes their books small, sturdy works of art and worth every penny. One way to guarantee visually stunning board books is to publish books created by graphic designers like Michael Arndt, author of Cat Says Meow and Other an-i-mal-poeia, Janik Coat, creator of HIPPOPPOSITES and Lorena Siminovich. Siminovich is the author of more than 25 picture and board books and is also the founder of petit collage, which offers a line of modern d├ęcor and playthings "anchored by good design and a mid-century influence." Her work is really cool and I wish it had been around when my daughter was little!

With You Are My Baby Ocean and You Are My Baby Garden, Simonivich's wonderful illustrations are perfectly matched with the brilliant design of the book itself - and the "baby" (in more ways than one) book within. A simple sentence about what the baby does or where the baby does it ("You play in the swaying seaweed," or "You climb on a sparkling web") are finished by opening the baby book, each sentence of which begins, "You are my baby, little . . ." (spiderling, seahorse, fry, hatchling, kit.)

Besides being infinitely visually appealing, I have no doubt that babies and toddlers will endlessly enjoy the two-books-in-one design, turning pages and, when they are old enough, matching parents and babies. I can't wait to see more from Lorena Siminovich and Chronicle Books!

Source: Review Copies