The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

December 4, 2012

Jeana Gockley: Bizzy Bear series clearly the best board books

By Jeana Gockley
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — Before having a little one of my own, I didn't know a lot about board books, and I didn't spend a lot of time reading or looking through them.

I ordered them for the library and I would, almost on a daily basis, recommend them to new parents. And I'd explain to said new parents that this type of book was durable, easy to wipe off and, thanks to its size, good for small hands to manipulate. But I did not put a lot of thought into what was actually happening story-wise or illustration-wise inside the books.

However, after many hours of reading board books with my little one, I have discovered that not all board books are created equal. Some are heads above the competition. Tops on my current favorites list is the "Bizzy Bear" series from Nosy Crow Publishing.

Currently, there are four Bizzy Bear titles available: "Let's Go and Play!", "Let's Get to Work!", "Fun on the Farm" and "Off We Go!" The library owns multiple copies of each title, so I have been fortunate to read all the books numerous times.

My little one's favorite is "Off We Go," but they are all wonderfully creative. In "Off We Go," Bizzy Bear employees use various modes of transportation and on the final page end up relaxing aboard a sailboat.

While the story in each book is clever and the illustrations are bright, engaging and depict things that children can relate to their own lives, the best parts of the books are the movable elements -- pull-out tabs, sliders and a fancy roundabout that features a turnable wheel in "Off We Go" -- and the heavy-duty construction of the pages.

I have no idea how the books are constructed to be so sturdy, but I can attest to the fact that they will stand up to heavy abuse. Trust me, my little one loves Bizzy Bear -- so much so that all I have to do is start reciting Bizzy Bear, with or without the book, and crazy-fast crawling to my lap ensues -- and is not gentle when "reading" the stories alone.

Fans will be happy to know that there are two more titles that feature Bizzy Bear: "Pirate Adventure" and "Fire Rescue," due out in January 2013. You can bet the library will get multiple copies of both titles, but because of their popularity, you might want to place a hold on them soon.

I cannot say enough great things about Bizzy Bear. He is akin to a rock star in my house.

I owe a big thank you to Betsy Bird, fellow librarian and big-time school library journal blogger, for my introduction to Bizzy Bear. Her blog, where she offers a full review of one of the Bizzy Bear titles and other board books, can be found at blog.schoollibrary production.


Jeana Gockley is the children's librarian at Joplin Public Library.