Posted in Toddler Reads

Adorable board books: actions, feelings, and opposites

This board book trio from author Ruth Austin and illustrator Kanae Sato is just adorable: Wiggle Jump Tickle looks at action words; Hide Seek Stinky Sweet – one of the best board book titles ever – introduces readers to opposites; and Happy Grumpy Loved is all about feelings. Let’s dive in.

Wiggle Jump Tickle, by Ruth Austin/Illustrated by Kanae Sato, (June 2018, Compendium), $12.95, ISBN: 978-1946873095

Recommended for readers 0-3

A young boy and an egg demonstrate cause and effect using action words in this adorable board book. The boy sees and egg, and reaches for it; grabs the egg, and it wiggles; as the egg hatches, he and his new friend play together, introducing words like play, stomp, dance, and wiggle to new readers. The illustrations are bright and bold, emotive, joyfully playful, and loaded with action and movement. It’s a celebration of discovery and new friendship, perfect for developing readers and listeners.



Hide Seek Stinky Sweet, by Ruth Austin/Illustrated by Kanae Sato, (June 2018, Compendium), $12.95, ISBN: 978-1946873088

Recommended for readers 0-3

A young girl and her black cat introduce children to opposites in this fun little book. At the start of the day, the girl is asleep, until Kitty decides it’s time to give some morning kisses to awaken her. Throughout their day, the girl gives a piece of candy to the cat, who decides to take her slipper; the girl takes out the stinky garbage, while the cat smells the sweet flowers. Where the Wiggle Tickle Jump illustrations are set against a blue background, Hide Seek Stinky Sweet has bold illustrations set against a bright yellow background. The characters are cheerful; two friends enjoying a day together, and the bright, bold words pop off the page and make for easy reading.



Happy Grumpy Loved, by Ruth Austin/Illustrated by Kanae Sato, (June 2018, Compendium), $12.95, ISBN: 978-1946873071

Recommended for readers 0-3

A boy, a girl, and their alligator demonstrate words to describe feelings in Happy Grumpy Loved. The children and alligator frolic their way through a bright red/pink background, introducing kids to words like friendly and shy; embarrassed and worried; pleased and excited. There’s movement, expressive body language, and a slew of great new words to get little ears used to hearing. The words map wonderfully to the illustrations, helping readers learn nonverbal communication, and develop empathy. The friendly girl waves at a dog, a big smile on her face; her friends hang back, heads cast down and the boy hiding behind the alligator, because they are shy. The dog barks, causing the alligator to leap into the air, surprised; he runs away, scared.


These books are absolute fun and loaded with teachable moments. They teach children to put words to feelings, actions, and concepts, and they encourage empathy by allowing children to experience cause and effect from an onlooker’s perspective. In Happy Grumpy Loved, the boy is jealous that the girl and alligator play together without him; he reacts by becoming grumpy, and destroying the structure the two friends built. In the next spread, he continues to throw the blocks, because he is angry; then, when the smoke clears, he is sad. The alligator helps him rebuild the structure, which makes him pleased, and together, the two friends are excited at their new creation.  Each book follows a story path, using the words to introduce readers to new vocabulary, while relying on the illustrations to tell the story.

The books are especially sturdy, too. They’ll hold up under multiple reads, and kids will want to return to these again and again. Put these books on your board book shelves and give them to your toddlers to enjoy. These pair nicely with Todd Parr books like The Feelings Book and Big and Little, and Leslie Patricelli’s board and picture books like Higher, Higher, Yummy Yucky, and Huggy Kissy.


I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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