Turkey Bowl (Phil Bildner)

Recommended, Not Repeatable 

It’s a cute Thanksgiving/family tradition story, where a young boy and his friends watch, year after year, as his family plays touch football (which gets clever name changes every year depending on the conditions: Mud Bowl, Ice Bowl, etc). They cheer everyone on, but really, they dream of the day when they’ll finally be big enough to play. The year finally arrives, he dresses and prepares… and then finds out that the roads have been snowed in, and it looks like he might miss his opportunity. It was a cute story, well-drawn in a way that looks almost portrait/picture like, but it’s not really something I think I’d want to read over and over again.

Halloween Jack (Roger Priddy)

Recommended, Repeatable

This is fun, interactive book for any toddler. The eyes move, there are some lights and sounds, and though there are witches and monsters, these are (mostly) toddler-appropriate witches and monsters. It’s not really that enjoyable from the parental point of view (it’s simplistic in both its rhymes and its illustrations), but it’s bright, the googly eyes move, it’s sturdy as far as board books go, and it’s something your toddler will enjoy.

I Love You Through and Through (Bernadette Rossetti Shustak)

Recommended, Repeatable

This is one of those simple, classic board books, and I’ll admit, it’s a total sucker punch of cuteness, but my toddler loves it, and so I love it. This review will probably be longer than the book (the entire book is basically going through simple body parts and emotions, reiterating that we, as parents, love them completely). But the illustrations (by Caroline Jayne Church) are cute and simple (and totally engaging for my toddler), and it’s one of those reads that have become staples in our family because it’s just so easy — toes, where are your toes! — or — sad, see sad face? — it keeps my toddler’s attention, and it’s a pretty universally mushy message.

Lemons are Not Red (Laura Vaccaro Seeger)

Recommended, Repeatable

This is an incredibly clever children’s book. It goes through a series of things made up in pairs: the first page shows a cut-out of a lemon, against a red backdrop, and tells you “Lemons are not red” you turn the page, and you the cut-out is now against a yellow background, you’re told “Lemons are yellow” and you see the next page “Apples are red” (which provided the backdrop for the lemon). It’s clever and cute and has all the objects and pictures that are right in the wheelhouse of a 2-3 year old toddler. The only problem is, if you have a energetic toddler, who might want to interact with the book, some of the cut-outs are a little fragile, so I’m not positive how careful you’d have to be if you really wanted to rotate this into your regular routine. An older kid would probably get bored, and a younger one might not have been trained well enough to be that careful…

Sorry! (Norbert Landa)

Recommended, Repeatable 

This is such a cute book: well drawn pictures, and a simple, well told story about a rabbit and a bear who are best friends and do everything together. They cook breakfast together, sleep in bunk beds, hang out in tree houses, and are just cute, cute, cute. Until one day, they find something shiny and new (what looks like a broken mylar balloon). They argue over whether it’s a picture of rabbit, or a picture of bear (since they only see their own reflections) and fight, fight, fight. It’s a super cute book, and I particularly appreciated the level of detail: some words are bigger than others (making it easier for your toddler to see and learn certain words), and the mylar is actually shiny (which is again, a wonderful way to capture and keep your toddler’s attention).

Miss Nelson is Missing (Harry G Allard, Jr)

Recommended, Repeatable

This is a cute teacher-appreciation story where a classroom of miscreants is used to taking advantage of their too-nice teacher Miss Nelson. They ignore her instructions, they make paper airplanes, don’t focus during story time, and so on. They’re finally forced to behave when Miss Nelson goes missing and is replaced by a horrible, mean, dictatorial substitute teacher. They’re thrilled when she comes back… and it’s cute. The art is the kind of ugly-on-purpose drawings that are actually quite well done, and it’ll keep your toddler’s attention, even if it will get old for you upon repetition.

There’s a Wolf at the Door (Zoe Alley and RW Alley)

Recommended, Repeatable

This is a retelling/expansion of well known fairy tales: Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, and The Wolf and the Seven Little Goslings. The artwork is interesting, the book is oversized, and it’s presented like a large comic-book, with each page having several picture/text boxes. Also, the starring character, Wolf, is in each of the five stories, which is a clever way of tying together these five tales. Now, there’s nothing particularly deep or super-creative here, but it is mostly interesting little twists, like the idea that the Little Red Riding Hood is actually a fashion-obsessed, somewhat superficial girl who only cares about wearing red, and is made to do a “nice” thing (visiting her grandmother) by her parents, who thinks she needs to learn some important life lessons. Some of the stories drag (for example, after the Wolf fails to blow down the third little pig’s house,the story continues… and continues). Still, it’s an interesting twist, and probably good for a 2nd grader.

Germs (Ross Collins)

Recommended, Repeatable

This is a super-clever picture book about a germ (Pox, 12087-2) that is appropriate probably for advanced 4+ year olds/students who enjoy sciences. Parents will get a kick out of the idea of the germ as a hero, though the language is a bit adult in the puns department (the bubonic bus for example). The tough part is that the drawings make it seem appropriate for the toddler age group, but your toddler isn’t going to get much out of this book (other than cute pictures). I still would recommend it, because it’s clever and worth the read… it’s just hard to know (between the language and the storyline) what age it’s really meant for.

Creepy Crawly Calypso (Tony Langham and Debbie Harter)

Recommended, Repeatable

This is a fun, brightly-colored, toddler-appropriate book (with a CD if you want the song portion) that is appropriate for a kid who’s learning to count. You’ll be counting cockroaches, spiders, and centipedes, but the pictures are clear and attention-getting, and it’s definitely age appropriate. It’s not really about the story (there isn’t one) or the informational section at the end (which won’t hold your toddler’s attention), it’s more about counting army ants with flutes…

The Flying Hockey Stick (Jolly Roger Bradfield)

Recommended, Repeatable

Though this isn’t my favorite childhood-fantasy story, it is definitely decent and repeatable. The main idea is a young boy who dreams of flying and eventually, through trial and error, makes a contraption with an umbrella, a fan, a hockey stick, and lots and lots of extension cords. He flies off on his great adventure, rescues some people, and lives to tell the tale. It’s kind of in a curious no-man’s-land in that it’s really best for slightly older children (maybe 4-5), but not quite as developed as I think it should be to properly hold their attention. Still, kids seem to like it and the drawings and that should be the ultimate test, right?