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Board books are such a good idea. I’m suddenly interested in knowing when they first started being produced. If I ever get around to doing research on the history of board books I’ll be sure to include it in a future post. Perfect for birth – 2 1/2, they are durable, portable, and nice to chew on (an assumption based purely on observation). I like it when authors, illustrators, and publishers produced board books that have specifically be designed for that format, but it is also common for popular hardcovers to be later released as a board book. Sometimes, in the case of Hug by Jez Alborough (Candlewick, $6.99), the board book format makes so much more sense than the hardcover. The book contains 3 words: hug, mommy, and Bobo. Given that “mommy” and “Bobo” appear only once, the entire story is basically comprised of one word and the story that Alborough has created with that single word is impressive. A small primate (not my area of expertise) walks through the jungle and sees other animals in endearing familial embraces. The chimp (?) responds to the snakes, elephants, giraffes with the astute observation “hug”. Bobo, as we later learn is his name, experiences a range of emotions, from delighted to despondent, as he feels increasingly alone. His petulant wail “HUG” and pitiful whimper “hug” draw the concern of all the other animals. Fortunately mommy runs with arms wide open. My grandmother always used to hug us and say, “I’m going to squeeeeze you, till you burst” and this sentiment is perfectly demonstrated in the warm embrace Bobo finally finds. A satisfied interspecies collective “Hug” concludes the story. The board book is perfect, though, because you can hold the book in one hand and hug with the other. It’s a great book to get a busy 1 1/2 year old to sit still for a few minutes as you practice your dramatic voice while trying to read all the different emotions that hugs can evoke.

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