Bored with board books? Since the arrival of our twin girls on Easter, board books are once again in vogue at our house. On this rainy day while the babies are napping, I've been perusing the latest crop. Here's what we'll be reading not to mention chewing in months to come.

Babies love to look at other babies, which means Copycat Faces (DK, $5.95, 0789442876) is sure to be a hit. Those familiar with DK's publishing style know what to expect: vivid, enticing photographs set against a white background. There's also a fold-out mirror in which babies can imitate the eye-catching expressions of the children photographed within boys and girls costumed as a king, burglar, jester, explorer, pirate, and, at the very end, a sleeping boy.

Dav Pilkey's Big Dog and Little Dog: Making a Mistake (Red Wagon/Harcourt, $5.95, 0152003541) is one in a series of board books about two dogs and their adventures. Both text and illustrations are simple and cheery, showing the duo as they follow an animal they believe to be a kitty, but which turns out to be a skunk. As an adult reader, I greatly appreciate board books that manage to have a plot, simple though it may be.

Miss Spider's New Car (by David Kirk, Scholastic, $8.95, 0439046750) is a superb example of a picture book that translates well to board format. The text is a short verse, describing Miss Spider's shopping expedition with her ant buddy to buy a new car. Kirk's outstanding illustrations are luminous, even in board book format.

Pooh's Pitter Patter Splash! (Mouse Works, $6.99, 1570829438) is double fun. Not only is there a rhyming tale about rain, but attached to the book is a clear plastic case containing colorful beads. Shake the book or turn it upside down, and the beads become a rattle imitating the sound of raindrops. This is one of the cleverest board books I've seen, one bound to entertain.

More fun is waiting in Bow Wow: A Pop-up Book of Shapes. Each page contains a black and white flap showing a different shape. Lift the flap to discover a colorful pop-up illustration incorporating that shape amidst a menagerie of canines. Save this whimsical book for older, gentle toddlers who won't destroy the flaps and pop-ups.

Fill your child's day with sunshine with the Portable Universe series from Abrams. Sun ($5.95, 0810956489), for instance, is a bright sun-shaped book containing a cheerful rhyme and illustrations about our great star.

Other easy-travel books are Fisher-Price's Move-Along Bead Book series, board books with attached carrying handles and big, colorful beads which slide along the handle. For example, Rise and Shine, Busy Bugs (Reader's Digest Children's Books, $6.99, 1575842599) features bug-shaped beads in purple, yellow, blue, and pink, and the stories of bug behavior is told in clever rhyming couplets. Wonderful books to develop color recognition and eye-hand coordination, and to carry along on vacation! Yet another novelty can be found in Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear, Turn Around: A Spin-Me-Around Book About Opposites (Reader's Digest Children's Books, $6.99, 1575842629). Each page contains a cut-out oval that spins to reveal pictures on each side good for developing manual dexterity, not to mention just plain intriguing for little tikes. Kathy Couri's illustrations of a frolicking teddy in sailor suit garb are sweetly executed in pastel tones.

What do you call a pig's nose? A snout, of course. These and other Funfax are included in a novel series of Fold Out Floor Books from DK, one of which is Pig ($3.95, 0789443112). A page asks a question, the next answers it, and meanwhile the book unfolds to form a large square picture of a pig surrounded by related photos. And the pigs are pink, cuddly, and cute, I might add, undoubtedly related to Babe. Finally, those with fond memories of Pat the Bunny will enjoy The Happy Book (Scholastic, $13.95, 0590109936), a touch-and-feel book with such things as scratch-and-sniff flowers, a kitty's fur, a pig's tail, a boo-boo to kiss, and sandpaper to rub. My goodness, even board books are interactive these days! With luck, they'll keep my little duo happy and busy.

Alice Cary writes from her home in Groton, Massachusetts.

comments powered by Disqus