I am not usually a fan of turning classic books into board books. But I’ve found an exception!
Author Joan Holub & illustrator Leslie Patricelli, an author and illustrator have many times proved their genius in children’s books. They triumph again with two board books in a new series called Mini Myths (both from Abrams, ages 2-4). Why do these work? Because the creative pair understand the essence of these stories and how they fit toddler temperaments.
In Play Nice, Hercules! Hercules has a little sister who annoys him. His father issues the classic parental advice, “Play nice, Hercules!” Hercules’ response is “I am not nice. I am strong.” Then he describes and demonstrates how he can “wham-bam monsters” and whirl “a green fanged one-eyed toy into space” and “whomp-stomp bad guys.” Patricelli’s iIlustrations show ittle Greek soldier and other toys flying through the air. The toys are icons of Hercules’ labors and the behavior also seems an icon of a young toddler trying out his physical power in the world.
It’s only a matter of time before Hercules’ actions impact his sister. She cries after he fells her block castle with one of his strong blows. This time it’s his mother who reminds him about playing nice. He apologizes, “I’m sorry. I will fix it.” He fixes the castle and includes his sister in leveling it. The book ends with their powerful hug. For those who want to be reminded of the myth, Hercules’ 12 Labors are stated in after pages, They are presented after the story, so do not have to shared.
Another toddler trial is portrayed in Be Patient Pandora. Pandora’s mother tells her, “do not open the box” and illustrations show a tempting green-striped, ribboned present. Pandora sports a shy, snide smile as she tiptoes closer to the box’s allure, declaring to a mother we can’t see, “I am not opening the box. I am only touching it.” Then she leans on it, sits on it, stands on it,and bounces a “teensy bit” until it flies open. Cupcakes go sailng. Pandora is quick to apolgize, of course.
When they received these books, Catie’s mommy was as skeptical as I was. But Catie gave them a wonderful reception!