Board Books I Like Right Now:
Featuring Agnese Baruzzi, Benjamin Chaud,
Sara Gillingham, and Julie Morstad

h1 August 22nd, 2012 by jules

“…the shadowy blue of the Unknown”


After I typed that post title, I wondered why it sounded familiar. Well, that’s ’cause the great Adrienne Furness, whose blog I love just about as much as I love the coffee bean and even MORE than finding ten bucks in my pocket that I didn’t know was there, often checks in with her blog readers to write about board books she is currently diggin’. (“Board Books I Like” she calls those posts, this being her most recent one, I believe.)

Well, here are five I am diggin’ right now, too, and I’m going to get right to it. (And next time I’ll pick a post title that doesn’t sound so copycat. But did I mention I love her blog? That post title is my salute to it.)

And I’m going to start with Ramona Bădescu’s Pomelo Explores Color (originally released last year in France as Pomelo et les couleurs), illustrated by Benjamin Chaud and coming from Enchanted Lion Books in October, because an image from this book opens the post today.

(Click to enlarge book jacket)

Last year, Enchanted Lion released the (very tall) picture book Pomelo Begins to Grow (pictured below), another Bădescu and Chaud collaboration. There have been other Pomelo tales in Europe, though I’m not sure they’ve made their way to the States.

Pomelo the Garden Elephant is back in this lengthy board book for young children. (The full book jacket is pictured above.) Actually, I stand corrected: It’s not a board book, as in the pages aren’t printed on thick, sturdy paperboard. But it’s small like one. And it explores colors, as many board books are wont to do.

And leave it to Bădescu and Chaud to explore them in an entirely refreshing way.

Nope, this isn’t your standard fare when it comes to the introduction of colors. Bădescu and Chaud delight and surprise readers with each page turn. It all starts with Pomelo feeling very “black and white,” looking around to explore the colors of his world: The “silent white of the blank page,” as well as a handful of other whites in the world; yellow, which begins with “the always different yellow of wee-wee” (well, it’s true); orange, including “the melancholy orange of autumn” and “the speeding orange of shredded carrots” (probably my favorite spread, ’cause you see, when someone’s dumping shredded carrots on your head, not even your black umbrella will help); red, including “the hypnotizing red of love” and “the explosive red of anger”; and many more colors.

As you can see, the author-illustrator duo simply won’t settle for your more prosaic expressions of color. Their offbeat choices—“the dismal green of doubt,” “the gray of things you can’t quite remember”—make this a thought-provoking and very fun title for young readers. There’s a lot of humor in the illustrations—“the lilac purple of Pomelo (if he were a granny)” is sure to garner loud laughs—and the expressive Pomelo beguiles and enchants.

This 2012 first American edition was translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick and is like a breath of fresh air. Don’t miss it.

“…the mysterious blue of dreams”
(Click to see spread in its entirety)

“…the happy gray of rain”
(Click to see spread in its entirety)


* * *


Next up is the very beautiful Count! from Agnese Baruzzi, who currently lives in Bologna, Italy. Published this month by the UK’s Tango Books, this board book was first published over in Great Britain.

In this one, Baruzzi counts from one to ten, showcasing such creatures as squirrels, owls, rabbits, and butterflies. In fact, they’re all creatures, save the closing “ten flowers.”

What makes this one stand out are Baruzzi’s delicate and elegant die-cut pages. “Lacelike” the publisher will say, and it’s true. The intricate cut paper illustrations lay atop brightly-colored backgrounds, as you can see below. In fact, they’re so lacelike that the wee’est of children might grab and rip, though I’d still describe it as generally sturdy.

Check it out:

(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)

(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)

(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)


* * *


Abrams Appleseed Books have been releasing some really great board books and picture books of late, I’ve noticed. (I’m remiss for not including Nikki McClure’s Apple in this post. Okay, well, I just mentioned it and I’ll put the cover here below, but I regret not having secured art from it to show you. It’s a beautiful board book with more of McClure’s cut-paper artwork. There’s always her May 2011 7-Imp interview, though, if you’re mumbling juicy curse words under your breath at me for having forgotten this one.)

Where was I? Right.

Abrams Appleseed is a new (as of early this year, I believe) imprint from Abrams that offers books for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers (ages birth to 5 years, as they define it). They brought us, for instance, Janik Coat’s sleek concept book Hippopposites, which I wrote about here at Kirkus.

This August, Appleseed released a pair of board books from author Stephen Krensky and illustrator Sara Gillingham, Now I Am Big! and I Can Do It Myself!

The former features a young boy reveling in his accomplishments, given he’s no longer a toddler. (“I used to just splash. Now I make waves.”) The latter features a young girl brimming with confidence and celebrating those things she can do on her own now. (“If I’m feeling stuffy, I blow my own nose.”) The text involves short sentences, written in the present tense (“[l]ovely, understated,” wrote the Publishers Weekly review), also making these great for those first stepping out to read.

Gillingham’s artwork, as you can see below, is very retro, filled with angles, textured patterns, and bright colors. See here for yourself …

— Illustrations from Now I Am Big!
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety)

“When it’s time to get dressed, I pick out my clothes.”
— Illustration from
I Can Do It Myself!
(Click image to see spread in its entirety; I’ve left out the right side of the spread, since there’s some unnecessary digital noise, for some reason,
when I try to post that side of it)


* * *


Last is the board book adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s children’s poem, “The Swing,” one of the most beloved children’s poems. This is illustrated by Julie Morstad and was released by Simply Read Books this month. I like it a lot.

I have two things to say about this charming board book: Betsy Bird tells you everything you need to know here, and Julie Morstad will be visiting 7-Imp one day in the near future for a breakfast interview. I am looking forward to this breakfast Q & A. I am a fan, you see.

(Click to enlarge)

(Click to enlarge)

Until then …

* * * * * * *

POMELO EXPLORES COLOR. First American edition copyright © 2012 by Enchanted Lion Books, Brooklyn, NY. Spreads reproduced with their permission. (Originally published in France by Albin Michel Jeunesse © 2011 as POMELO ET LES COULEURS.)

COUNT! © 2012 by Agnese Baruzzi. First published in Great Britain in 2012 by Tango Books, Ltd. Spreads reproduced with their permission.

NOW I AM BIG! Copyright © 2012 by Stephen Krensky. Illustrations © 2012 by Sara Gillingham. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher, Abrams Appleseed, New York, NY.

I CAN DO IT MYSELF! Copyright © 2012 by Stephen Krensky. Illustrations © 2012 by Sara Gillingham. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher, Abrams Appleseed, New York, NY.

THE SWING. Illustrations copyright © 2012 by Julie Morstad. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher, Simply Read Books, Vancouver, BC.

6 comments to “Board Books I Like Right Now:
Featuring Agnese Baruzzi, Benjamin Chaud,
Sara Gillingham, and Julie Morstad”

  1. Love these

  2. Ok, love all these…but geeze…oh my…Pomelo. Heart is thumping a little louder on this end after seeing him!

  3. I love Baruzzi’s art particularly, but I’d like to see all of these, and you’re reminding me that I need to do some new Board Books I Like posts, now that I’m getting settled into the new job and reading again and all.

  4. […] Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast a blog about books « Board Books I Like Right Now:Featuring Agnese Baruzzi, Benjamin Chaud,Sara Gillingham, and Julie Mor… […]

  5. I too love Count! and the two Appleseed titles. As for Pomelo, well! I am French living in the UK and I simply cannot understand why Benjamin Chaud’s books don’t get published here!

  6. […] follow international picture books may recognize Chaud’s name: He’s the creator of the Pomelo […]

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