Monday, November 1, 2010

The Baby beeps again as a board book? Genius!

Or is it?

Last month Albert Whitman reissued Rebecca O’Connell and Ken Wilson-Max’s previously out-of-print picture book, The Baby Goes Beep, as a board book.

I was thrilled to see this book back in print, first because over the last year my two-year-old son has expressed his love of the hardcover office copy a bit too ferociously (sorry, Roger), second because it’s a perfect fit for the board book format. And to think that the Horn Book lamented this book’s OP status last year!

My excitement was tempered, however, when I opened the new edition and saw what the publisher took out. Beginning on the endpapers, the original edition told a subtle story of a baby’s day, filled with familiar events like running errands with his parents, playing at home, eating dinner, having a bath, and going to bed. Now with sixteen whole pages missing, this is not the same creature. The pace of both the pictures and the text is choppy and not as satisfying. The new edition isn’t a total disgrace, though. O’Connell’s simple words (“The baby goes Splash / The baby goes Splash Splash Splash Splash”) and Wilson-Max’s bright and bold illustrations will lure in new readers who perhaps won’t miss what they’ve never known.

But I guess I’ll be sneaking the office copy back home. It’s time for my one-year-old to have her way with it.

-- Kitty Flynn


  1. I remember when they did the same thing to Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. My two-year-old nephew who had loved the original, after hearing the truncated board book edition, looked dismayed and said "Boom boom?"

    That said, I am glad to hear this great book is back in print. It is a quietly ingenious book.

  2. Thanks! This post finally motivated me to go ahead and purchase a used copy of the original online, so I'd have it for my baby storytimes. I will buy the new version too, but you're right, the first one was just about perfect the way it was.

  3. There are always compromises when converting a picture book to board book format--making the costs work is a real problem.... Nice analysis of what can happen, and your acknowledgment that new readers may not notice the difference.

  4. You say that like it's a good thing, Harold. ;-)

  5. KT, CHICKA CHICKA ABC is a crime against nature (your HBM article about board books gone wrong is one of my favorites).

  6. I just gave this edition to my 1-year-old friend Xela -- I'll let you know what she thinks!