Can ANYONE make an elephant noise? A Board Book Every Week No 9


Honk Honk! Baa Baa! by Petr Horacek Walker Books board book

Honk Honk! Baa Baa! By Petr Horáček (Walker Books 2013)


A book of animal noises is a must-have for babies. Lots of animal noises are much easier to try out than real words*, and more fun. There’s a great post here explaining why that is: ‘As a paediatric speech-language therapist, I often spend my days mooing. And baaing…’

I chose Honk Honk! Baa Baa! because the animals are big and bright and it’s utterly straightforward. Each double page simply says ‘Baa baa goes the sheep’ or ‘Moo moo goes the cow’. All you need, really. No extraneous stuff about what the animal eats or does or where it lives. Just an animal to pat or point at and a noise to make.

The front cover announces that this is a ‘flip-flap fun’ book but as there are no flaps to lift and peep under, just graduated-size pages inside, the fun is pretty much up to the baby reader and their tame adult. So don’t hold back with the baaing and mooing!

Honk Honk! Baa Baa! by Petr Horacek Walker BooksThe illustrations are endearing – clear and full of character. They look like collages on vivid paint and crayoned backgrounds. You can still see the pencil lines around the cut-out goose on the cover. Wax-resist gives the sheep texture to its fleece. The cat looks cool and the dog eager.

I’d rather have a duck here than a goose, but that’s a quibble. Ducks seem to be infinitely fascinating to little children, and more familiar. Most baths have ducks floating round them and approximating a Quack-quack is easy.

Also there’s no recap page at the end featuring all seven animals – but with the graduated pages it’s easy to flip back and forth and revisit your favourites.

*One exception is an elephant noise. I’ve never managed to make that one, but my hopeless attempts – along with much arm/trunk waving – have always resulted in major giggles. It’s worth making a fool of yourself if you get children and parents on side. I wonder if the speech therapist mentioned above can help me out?


If you’re happy and you know it… read a book!

A Board Book Every Week: No. 7

Clap Your Hands, an action book by David Elland

Clap Your Hands by David Ellwand (Templar 2001)


For some reason, I’ve only ever seen this small board book for sale in National Trust gift shops. First spotted by a colleague of mine, we bagged it for our toy library because it’s a great little action book for babies and small children, no matter what their physical abilities.

David Ellwand’s book has a very simple premise: it repeats the song ‘If you’re happy and you know it…’, with all the subsequent actions carried out by teddies. Sometimes one teddy, sometimes two, or lots of different ones. Some are new-looking, others are – as they say of second-hand clothes – ‘pre-loved’, and show it. So it should be possible to find a teddy resembling your own teddy somewhere in the line up. Clap Your Hands board book by David Ellwand

The teddy-bears clap their hands, stamp their feet, turn around, touch their noses, etc. etc. Some actions are more of a challenge (hop around, and jump up high) but some (flap your arms, and touch the sky) just lend themselves to being done with physical help if the child isn’t able to do it on their own.

A small format board book, just 5” by 6” (12.5 x 15 cm) with clear white or pale space around the teddies. Readers of this blog will know I’m a fan of white space in baby books! It makes it much easier to pick out and concentrate on the key image, especially if a child has any difficulties seeing or comprehending pictures.

Clap Your Hands, an action book by David Ellwand

The perfect language recap page.

As for language development, every double-page spread repeats the ‘Happy and you know it’ rhyme with just one new action, and the last one gives a clear recap of all the actions with a teddy doing each one. This is perfect for practising what has come earlier. For many years I worked with a very inspiring specialist speech therapist, and this was the kind of book she was always on the look-out for: with a last page which revisits the key vocabulary of the book. Sadly it doesn’t crop up that often. Publishers, please note!

This little book and its companion, the counting book Ten In The Bed, was reprinted in 2013 by Baker & Taylor (UK) Ltd and is ridiculously cheap – £2.99.

I love the ted who demonstrates turning around. Its expression is distinctly doubtful about the whole project. But the bear who’s happy and knows it and shouts ‘I am!’ does look convincingly smiley. 🙂

Clap Your Hands, an action book by David Ellwand (Templar)