Sandra Boynton’s very popular board books include Doggies, Horns to Toes and in Between, and But Not the Hippopotamus. Moo, Baa, La La La! is one of my favorites. This book features bright colors, rhyme, and lots of animal sounds. The first few pages set up the reader to expect a straightforward exploration of animal noises. Drawings of a cow and sheep are accompanied by the words, “A cow says MOO. A sheep says BAA.” On the third page, however, Boynton’s humor arrives with an illustration of tap-dancing pigs in brightly-colored suits and the declaration, “Three singing pigs say LA LA LA!” After correcting this silly mistake, the narrator moves on to the sounds of other animals, including dogs, cats, and not-so-familiar rhinoceroses. The last spread shows all the animals quietly gathered together, waiting to hear what sound the reader makes. When I read these final pages in storytime, I invited the participants to make their favorite animal sounds.
Many elements of Moo, Baa, La La La! make it just right for babies. Hearing the bouncy, rhyming text will help children learn the sounds of the English language, preparing them to learn to speak and read. Boynton’s text could easily be memorized and repeated like a nursery rhyme even without the book in hand. In her book Reading Magic, literacy expert Mem Fox describes some of the ways grownups can share rhymes with young children. She writes, “Songs and rhymes provide comforting rhythms in children’s early lives and also expose kids to gorgeous forms of language. […] They can be read, recited, chanted, or sung in a soft, low voice whenever a child is sleepy or fretful. And they’re also fun to say and learn when children are wide awake and happy.” Boynton’s illustrations are also well-suited for babies. They are high-contrast and simple, which makes them easy to see. Boynton’s animals, which are drawn with bold black outlines, appear on plain colored backgrounds. The only spread that gets a little busier is the last one since it includes all the animals featured in the book.
The small size of this board book makes it most suitable for one-on-one sharing. However, those who wish to share this title with a group may want to seek out a larger edition. For those who have iPads, an interactive version of this book is available as an app. Moo, Baa, La La La! also makes a fantastic baby gift!
Check the WRL catalog for Moo, Baa, La La La!