The Hip Hop Board Book by Martin Ander.
Dokument Press, Arsta, Sweden, 2012.
Board book, 22 pages.
“Rap, Breakdance, Graffiti, & DJ:ing – now for the very youngest! The Hip Hop Board Book is a different, colorful picture book about culture and everyday life with fun and clear pictures for small children. A charming book with lots of humor and attitude.” ~Back Blurb
I wish I remembered finding this board book. It’s not brand-new, but hasn’t gotten much buzz – and it’s from Sweden, although the text is in English. Perhaps Amazon recommended it to me when I was ordering some other hard-to-find board books.
However it came our way, this quirky little book is delightful. I had no idea what to expect, so I’ll warn you there is no story. Each page/two pages has a word in all caps, and then an illustration or two to go with the text. The words are city, bedroom, house, subway, art, play, ball, hands, hair, friends, necklace, cars, hat, shoes, music, dance, and rhyme.
Yes, it’s that random. The characters don’t repeat, either, although there are some common themes. For example, the subway train seen from a distance on the opening pages is drawn the same ways on the ‘subway’ page. It appears to extend onto the next page, ‘art’. The blurb mentioned graffiti, but it’s more the style. The side of the train has ABC written in graffiti-style letters. There are paint cans and papers with practice drawings, but it’s not presented in a way inappropriate for children.
This was one of the most diverse and culturally appropriate board books I’ve seen. All of the kids loved it. The pre-reader loved that he could memorize and “read” it, the older kids enjoyed the art, and Baby was happy to chew on it or look at the pictures.
On every page with more than one person, there are always a variety of skin tones. Because of the stylized drawings and the bright colors, it’s sometimes hard to identify, but in the group pictures it’s pretty clear that even a variety of dark and light tones are present. Everyone is happy and getting along. The illustrations have a lot of pop and some are quite detailed. I wouldn’t have expected a 17-word book to attract any attention from the kids over 6, but it did! My pre-reader especially loved the final page with matching rhyme illustrations.
The one aspect I disliked – nobody is visibly wearing a seatbelt. We are big on staying buckled, so N had to point that out. The motorcyclist is wearing a helmet though! However, that’s a minor quibble in a well made book.
Based on the Yankees logo on one baseball cap, the city appears to be New York, but a joyous, brightly colored New York. The board book is larger, but not gigantic like It’s Ramadan. Baby couldn’t turn the pages himself. Our copy has gotten a bit dented and worn, but this is not a flaw in the sturdiness of so much as it is a testament to how much use this book has gotten.