Baby's First Book Blocks by Dan Stiles

It still surprises me how much pleasure I get from a really good board book. Something about the synthesis of form and function and the combination of concept and presentation, perfectly balanced for little hands, eyes and brains is exciting. I also find myself surprised, after 21 years of parenthood and 18 years of bookselling, that there are still exciting new board books being published. Baby's First Book Blocks by artist and designer Dan Stiles is a perfect example of this. Baby's First Book Blocks is published by Pow!, a new, independent publisher dedicated to publishing "visually driven, imagination-fuelled" books that combine an "offbeat or humorous sensibility with outstanding design that delight children and grown-ups equally." 

Baby's First Book Blocks incorporate the latest research about vision development in a series of board books designed to engage infants and develop visual acuity. When my daughter was born in 1993, high contrast black and white images were at the height of developing infant brains. We had a great set of books by Tana Hoban (strangely out of print) that we would line up along the changing table and a black and white mobile over the crib. By the time my first son was born almost five years later, black and white baby things were nowhere to be found. Happily, the first book in this set presents simple but interesting shapes that shift into more complex patterns, perfect for newborns who prefer high contrast.

Book 2 in Baby's First Book Blocks in features the primary colors, red, blue and yellow, with more complex shapes that move into real patterns with multiple colors. Book 3 introduces secondary colors and more advanced patterns while the fourth and final book presents subtle shading and complicated patterns. It's amazing to me that these tiny, chunky books have so much thought and attention to detail in this seemingly simple set up.