The Importance of Board Books by Petr Horacek

28th May 2013 No Comments

I think I have written before about how important I think board books are for very young children as they allow them to explore books alone as well as with you.  For many young children they are an introduction into the concept of a book and also some of their first experiences of art. In that sense its really important to steer away from those TV character driven books towards well illustrated original books.

My children have benefited from a wide selection of board books, but without doubt some of the best are written and illustrated by Petr Horacek who has really kindly agreed to guest blog for me. I’m thrilled to have his input on my blog and I do hope you enjoy what he has written, you’ll find a wide range of his books  on the Walker Books website and you can have a look at his fabulous website and blog here. I can’t recommend his books more highly. Little Ned is currently enjoying Honk Honk! Baa Baa! and even has it in his cot at night, in the morning I see him flicking through it via the baby monitor, an endearing memory which will stay with me forever.

The Importance of Board Books by Petr Horacek

I started my career as a writer and illustrator in 2001 by publishing two board books “Strawberries are Red” and “What is Black and White”.  Walker Books published the books. They are my best selling board books and they are still in print.

For these two books I received  “ Newcomer Award 2001” by Books for Children.
Since then I have published ten more board books. Board books take a special part of my work.
I have sometimes felt that booksellers and bookshops often overlook the importance of board books. I have noticed, that in the shops there are less and less board books. They are often pushed somewhere into a corner (or by the floor), where they are hardly noticed. 
We should understand that a board book could and often is a child’s very first contact with a form of visual art.
A board book has usually “only” seven spreads. Working on a board book may look easy but the opposite is true. 
To make a good board book is hard work and it takes time. Children may not have as much experience as adults, but they are not stupid. 
Board books with random images without any concept won’t do. Children want more and they deserve more.
Children do like colourful pictures and images they may recognise, but they also appreciate a good story. This is the hardest part of a board book. To come up with a simple and interesting concept for a board book is not easy.
I’m lucky to be published by Walker Books. I work with editors who are very professional and very passionate about children’s books.
Together we spend hours discussing new ideas for board books. My editors won’t be happy until the book is absolutely right. In my drawer I have at least three times more ideas than I have published board books. Not every idea works.
A big part of my board books is a novelty aspect. All of my board books have holes, cut outs, shaped pages and sometimes a turning wheel, which changes colours in the final image. 
The child can chase a mouse through the pages of the book, follow a car which is going to visit granny, travel by train over the hills, woods and bridges. The shaped pages slowly build into a final picture as you turn the pages.
Yes, the game itself is important, but I also do like the idea, that children are learning to like books as an objects. Next time the child sees a book, it will feel the need to touch it and open it.
The shape, the quality of the materials, the whole feel about the board book is very important. That is another strength of board books published by Walker Books. Walker publishes a series of high quality board books as “Baby Walker”.
My latest board books are call “Time for Bed” and “Honk Honk! Baa Baa!”
Claire Walsh

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