Board Book Review: ‘Busy Garage’ by Rebecca Finn
Babies and toddlers can be a tough crowd to please. When you buy a new book or toy, you’re essentially taking a 50/50 chance that it will sit in the corner, collecting dust, while your baby happily plays with a cardboard box and your pots and pans. So it’s important to look for eye-catching things that should hold your baby’s attention (and to not take it personally when something you think is awesome goes unused).
For my now one-year-old, books started off as something to chew on or throw across the room. Now, though, she enjoys sitting on our laps while we read to her, and sometimes even hangs out on her own, turning the pages of a book and chatting to herself. Sure, she still chews on them and throws them, but she is starting to realize that books have a greater value than just food, and to really enjoy reading them together—especially those that are interactive.
Busy Garage is a great example of an interactive book for toddlers and young children. While it’s short, each page has plenty to explore, and it’s durable enough for a child to handle fairly roughly without ripping the pages.
Busy Garage by Rebecca Finn (Illustrator)
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The book is set in a garage which is—you guessed it—busy. The mechanics work hard every day fixing lights, filling tires, checking wires, fixing wipers, and washing cars. They are accompanied by various animals, and help each other out by passing wrenches when needed and such. The “push-pull-slide” element to the book makes it interactive and interesting, even for kids with short attention spans. The rhyming element to the book makes it fun to read for parents, and interesting for children who are learning their first words or actively building their vocabulary.
As any toddler parent knows, finding books that are durable enough for teething tots can be a challenge. Books with flaps that lift are pretty much out of the question for younger kids, at least until they understand the purpose of flaps rather than just trying to rip them off the page and destroy the book.
Busy Garage is made of thick pages—much thicker than the typical baby book—which makes it extra durable and strong against babies hell-bent on destruction. One of the reasons for the thickness of the pages is the tabs which you can push, pull, and slide to make the garage come to life. While this sounds fairly easy for a young child to break, the quality of the tabs add to the book’s durability and make it ideal for young children of all ages.
I was really excited to read Busy Garage with my daughter, and I was not disappointed. There’s so much happening on each page that she was enthralled, and we ended up reading it three times in a row. The attention to detail is outstanding, and little additions (like a hidden bee on each page that you have to find) make it extra fun. In addition to the main words on each page (which flow easily thanks to their rhyming), you can see mechanics having conversations, birds flying around, cats chasing cars, and dogs hanging out with their friends.
Busy Garage is just one in a series of interactive books for young children. After reading this book, I’d definitely consider adding the other three (Busy Airport, Busy Railroad, and Busy Builders) to my daughter’s collection. The short length is more than manageable, and the interactive tabs make for a fun reading experience. Additionally, the book’s durability makes it a real keeper for my toddler, who has destroyed more books than I care to mention. This would also make an ideal baby shower gift or first-birthday gift, and I will be keeping it in mind for future occasions.
Busy Garage is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, Target, and other retailers.
Product provided for review by publisher.
- Cat HilesManaging Editor
Catherine Hiles is a native Brit currently based in Dayton, Ohio. Don't ask how that happened. Cat has written about a variety of subjects, from dog training to fashion, and counts running and cooking among her hobbies. Cat lives with her husband, Ben; their daughter, Rose; and their collection of animals, including an energetic mutt, an elderly basset hound, and a jerk cat. See more articles by Cat.