Friday, June 22, 2007

Favorite Picture Books?

I'm curious to know what some of your favorite picture books are... and why?
Jeez, where to start?
Tell you what. I’ll begin if you guys will add your own.

Actual Size
There’s your hook right there—everything in the book, all the animals and parts of animals, is actual size. One of those ideas that seems all kinds of obvious once it’s in your hands. And Steve Jenkins is fabulous. Over and over he takes nonfiction topics, trims them eloquently down to kid size, and illustrates the heck out of them.

Squawk to the Moon, Little Goose
An old, out-of print one. Illustrated by Barbara Cooney. This book scared and thrilled me as a child. It’s a good reminder of the fact that children want to be protected, but not sheltered. They want to talk about the dangerous world.

Skippyjon Jones
This is just so much fun to read. Verve, humor, and an impressive facility with language. And adorable pastels. I may start stalking Judy S.


Kidlitjunkie said...

Flotsam is gorgeous and lovely and filled with ideas. I love it just about as much as I love Hurricane and Sector 7 (all by the fabulous David Weisner.)

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems is silly-scary, and hilarious, and every child can relate to not being good at something, at being mean to someone else, and to being friends. And it is just so much fun.

Many Moons by James Thurber is a gorgeous fairy tale that I read so much when I was a kid that the book was worn apart (and even as a kid I treated books with reverence.)

Chris said...

Skippyjon Jones is hysterical--like a picture book with ADD. I would add:

-Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
-No, David!

and my childhood favorite: Harold and His Purple Crayon.

Anonymous said...

I love MISS RUMPHIUS and (here's an oldie) A VERY SPECIAL HOUSE by Ruth Krauss. My favorite of recent years is WILD ABOUT BOOKS. Clever, funny, and a pleasure to read aloud, unlike a lot of rhyming picture books which (despite what I hear) get published even though the meter is terrible.

Kristi Valiant said...

Good Boy, Fergus by David Shannon, and really, all his David books are great

The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

Big Sister, Little Sister by LeUyen Pham

The Fancy Nancy books by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser

And my favorite childhood book Deans Mother Goose Book of Rhymes illustrated by Janet and Anne Grahame Johnstone. I would stare at the gorgeous illustrations for hours!

Anonymous said...

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon for its unusual story line and intriguing illustrations.

The Bunyans by David Shannon cracked me up too

Alice the Fairy by David Shannon did as well

The Sweetest Fig by CVA even tho it is a profound ( I think it might be more appreciated by adults). But I love his magician like storytelling and art

Jillian Jigs for rhythm and great read aloud

Madlenka by Peter Sis for visual storytelling and imagination in illustration...same for most of his books

Where the Wild Things Are for getting into the head of the little boy (the author)

Harold for visual storytelling...looks simple but holds a big concept

Roxaboxan (sp?) for purity, simplicity and innocence of childhood

Ms. Biddlebox for high emotion and wild illustration

There are so many and I have to run. These are just a few. I could go on for ever

Oh, yeah. For a new book

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich great art and funny poetry.

Stephanie J. Blake said...


Andy J Smith illustration said...

The Hockey Sweater - by Roch Carrier. I had an affinity for hockey at a young age and always loved this book. But more than anything, today, I love the fanciful, somewhat raw illustrations by Sheldon Cohen. They're flast and very stylized but also so full of life!

The Lorax - Dr. Seuss, Dirty Bertie - David Roberts, The Giving Tree - Silverstein

Anonymous said...

The Pigeon books
A Mother for Choco-makes me cry every time! Also, the Wolf's Chicken Stew
Tumble Bumble
A Time for Bed
The Big Blue Spot
Parts, More Parts and Even More Parts
Bunny My Honey
Bear in a Square
The Dish Ran Away with the Spoon
And I'm not sure if I should admit this or not but I think the Dumb Bunny books are hysterical

Deirdre Mundy said...

I've really grown to love "Good Night Gorilla" since we had kids...

At first glance it's realy simple, but the illustrations have a lot of neat details and I've never met a kid under 4 who doesn't fall instantly, madly, and wildly in love with it....

Plus, It's a great snuggle down for bed book!

I also love anything by McCloskey, but ESPECIALLY Make Way for Ducklings and Blueberries for Sal.

And Tomie Depaola's Strega Nona books are loads of fun (and my Mom used to do all the voices so well!)

Anonymous said...

- Bear Snores On

- The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

Anonymous said...

Officer Buckle and Gloria

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that with all the Mo Willems praise, no one mentioned Knuffle Bunny. Anyone with kids has got to love the line, "She went boneless."

Also a big fan of Julia Donaldson's Gruffalo and Room on the Broom -- clever, funny, great rhyme...really fun to read aloud.

Finally, not in the picture book category, but definitely for kids (and adults) is LOve that Dog by Sharon Creech -- a very touching story told in a most original way!

Anonymous said...

Seconding the Goodnight Gorilla vote!

Anonymous said...

I heard a pre-publication reading of Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen's new picture book, about a little girl and her desire for a dog.

It was one of the smartest children's books I've ever "heard." I loved it and can hardly wait for it to be published.

Anonymous said...

One Hundred Dresses
Bubble Gum Bubble Gum
Mrs. Biddlebox
When Moon Fell Down
Tops and Bottoms
Blueberries For Sal
Harold and the Purple Crayon
The Giving Tree
I'll Love You Forever
Bed Hogs
Liberty's Journey
Sixteen Cows

Picture books that you just gotta love!


Anonymous said...

SEVEN SILLY EATERS (perfect. love marla's illustration!)
LILLY'S PURPLE PLASTIC PURSE - (wow. that's all i can say. wow.)
OFFICER BUCKLE AND GLORIA (never stand on a swivel chair!)
STORY OF FERDINAND (come on. genius.)
BLUEBERRIES FOR SAL (or any mccloskey)

and from more recent times, i like NOT A BOX, MEET WILD BOARS & of course Mr. Pigeon!

Anonymous said...

Hey Brenda,
Excuse my silliness... but I would not put One Hundred Dresses in a picture book category. I'm thinking it's an early chapter book or beginning novel or digest size ... or something else. I do love this story, but it's too long for a PB, isn't it?
Just asking.

angelarene said...

The Mitten-Beautiful & funny illustrations.

Piggie Pie-Out-of-the-box,hysterical


Alexander and the Terrible,No Good, Very Bad Day-Need I say more?

There's An Alligator Under My Bed-Cute

Anonymous said...

I shouldn't be, but I'm always surprised when I'll Love you Forever and The Giving Tree make it onto favorite lists.

ChatRabbit said...

Ah, someone else picked The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes! That's my all-time favorite. The original girl power story.

Second would be Bread and Jam for Frances- there was always something so human about those badgers!

A more current fave would be Julius, the Baby of the World, by Kevin Henkes. Also, Owen. KH has a great feel for what real kids are like (despite being mice).

Wendy said...

Anything by Robert Munsch. I don't know if anyone south of the Canadian border is familiar with him but my daughters LOVED his books. They're hilarious. Go to his website. You can listen to him read some of the stories right online. My kids favorites were: Good Families Don't and 50 below Zero.

Anonymous said...

All the Frances books have such a great sense of humor. I appreciate reading them as an adult even more!

Anonymous said...

Probably right about One Hundred Dresses, guess it would be considered early chapter book.

I just discovered it! I LOVE IT, I think it is one of my all time favorites, and in my excitement, I just got CARRIED AWAY!

And I couldn't even think straight!

Anonymous said...

OH and I almost forgot:

Getting To Know Ruben Plotnick
Holly Bloom's Garden
Grandpa For Sale
Carla's Sandwich
Alley Oops
The Ring Bear
The Only One Club
Wishes For One More Day

So many great picture books out there isn't there?!


Deirdre Mundy said...

How about a separate thread for picture books we think are horribly over-rated even though they sell well?

I can't STAND Guess How Much I Love You . Neither can my kids. They like the illustrations, but the text just leaves them cold.

Yet we've been given multiple copies by various elderly female friends and relations who think it's heartwarming and sweet.

In reality, a three-year-old from a normal home finds the "I love you so MUCH!" topic rather ho-hum.

Of COURSE you do.... after all, you were only put on this earth to adore that three-year-old and didn't even really EXIST before she was born! (Kids this age are INCREDIBLY Solipsistic...)

But there seems to be a whole genre of books that appeals to people with money to spend who essentially want a picture book to be a longer version of a Hallmark Greeting card....

Sigh...... Sorry about the early morning rant.... Thinking about the children's books I adore and why always leads to the children's books I DETEST....

So to end this on a positive note:

I love The Little House

The series Where's the Puppy, where's the Baby? etc. etc. may not be great literature, but they're the most durable toddler lift-the-flap books I've ever encountered (Indestructible) and are a LOT of fun for the kids......

We picked up two Snip, Snap and Snurr books up at a local booksale. They're very dated, but kind of cute, and the kids absolutely adore them....

And anything by Rosemary Wells is great, but ESPECIALLY Max Cleans Up ... the humor is at perfect toddler level!

Deirdre Mundy said...

Oh, and for a DECENT book on the "Mommies love their babies" theme....

The Runaway Bunny

It's got a wonderful soothing rhythm and kids LOVE the images of the mother and baby turning into various things... Not to mention that its visuals deliberately tie into Goodnight Moon and vis versa!

Anonymous said...

Fun, funny and great math primer.

Funny and surprising.


Anonymous said...

Just a few:

The Marvelous Mud-Washing Machine, by Patty Wolcott
Clotilda's Magic, by Jack Kent
Monsters, and A Near Thing For Captain Najork, by Russell Hoban and Quentin Blake (such a great team!)
Up A Tree, by Ed Young
The Stinky Cheese Man, by Jon Scieszka

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a non-professional reader of children's books, my 3 children all LOVED Guess How Much I Love You. Also Good Night, Gorilla, and Tumble Bumble by Felicia Bond, and a book called Walk With Me by Naomi Danis.

Anonymous said...

I just can't resist. This topic is such a crack pipe...

Big Yes Vote:
• Anything illustrated by Fred Marcellino (but especially OUCH and THE STORY OF LITTLE BABAJI... not such a fan of the Caldecott Honor PUSS IN BOOTS).
• THE THREE LITTLE WOLVES AND THE BIG BAD PIG (text by Eugene Trivizas, ill. by the wonderful Helen Oxenbury)
• James McMullan's I STINK! (about a garbage truck). Amazing illustrator having a field day.
• Chris Raschka's CHARLIE PARKER PLAYED BE-BOP (leading contender for best read-aloud ever).
• Recent-but-briliant: Oliver Jeffers' LOST AND FOUND.
• Count me in on all the Peggy Rathmann titles.
• What All Picture Books Should Be Like: Uri Shulevitz's SNOW.

Not so much:
• David Shannon... sorry, his pictures always leave me oddly queasy.
• Frankly a little tired of Mo Willems... I like the new easy readers, but after a while it all gets a little thin. Great at what he does, but all the postmodern interplay is no substitute for real literature...
• David Wiesner. Another fine practitioner of the art, but getting through SECTOR 7 and FLOTSAM was just a joyless trudge. Can't imagine why the Caldecott people love him so.

Anonymous said...

Interested to see a few anti-Giving Tree votes out there. While I'm generally a big Shel Silvecrstein fan, re-reading the Giving Tree as an adult makes me cringe -- what exactly is the message here? Give, give, give while a selfish, self-centered person takes and takes and takes? That's not generosity...that's a doormat.

Anonymous said...

You know, I have always thought of The Giving Tree as a life lesson. The tree does give and give, and give some more, and the man does take, and take, and takes some more. But for me, it was so much about the stages of life, and really how we should be happy in that place that we are. Because at the end of it all, ALL of the things and stuff that we try to acquire aren't important.

And if the man had just realized it was never about stuff making him happy he would have had a much more content life.

But you are right, the tree does give unconditionally, I wonder if on the last page, when the man was sitting on the stump, if he had ever been really happy.


Anonymous said...

My New Years resolution was to recommend a book, but only if the author is alive. I figure the live ones need the money. They can promote literature with school and conference visits. They can write more books. Their editors can edit more books. Their illustrators can illustrate more… And maybe I’ll meet them at a book signing. Sorry Margaret Wise, E.B. White, Shel Silverstein, Dr. Suess…..

I recommend:
Officer Buckle and Gloria
Sheila Rae the Brave
Dear Mr. Blueberry


Deirdre Mundy said...

I always encoutered The Giving Tree in CCD. It was never one of my favorites, but then in college a friend of mine pointed out that it's also bad theology! (Not that Shel Silverstein meant it as theology, but the way that the teachers were teaching it....)

I've also developed a fetish for unlikely children's books...

So in that collection I've got

Silversteins ABZ book
Belloc's Cautionary Tales

and illustrated "picture-book" versions of Kafka, Plath and Gertrude Stein....

It just cracks me up to imagine someone reading Kafka as a children's bedtime story. =)

Karen M said...

Have to get in on this.

My all time favorite, from a 4-year-old me was I Can Fly by Ruth Kraus (w/ illos by Mary Blair).

Where the Wild Things Are is simply the Best. Picture. Book. Ever.

For more recent pubs, I'm a Brock Cole fan -- Buttons is great, but my favorite is Larky Mavis. Also Ruby and the Sniffs by Michael Emberly (Hilarious read-aloud). More, More, More Said the Baby by Vera B. Williams (makes a great baby gift). Yo! Yes! by Chris Raschka (the minimalist pb).

I love adding new choices to the list!

Anonymous said...

A favorite of just about every second grader I've asked is Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. They seem to like the excessivity.

And for those who want to be taken away, try Falling Angels by the amazing Colin Thompson. It will leave you breathless. Talk about imagination. His other books are also visual feasts.

I like the Where's Waldo books myself but I don't know if I would classify them as pbs per se. And I don't know how Martin Handford could still be functioning after all that.

Anonymous said...

Well, blimey it is excessiveness......

And for pb biographies I like M.T. Anderson's Handel Who Knew What He Liked and Strange Mr. Satie because he captures them beautifully and makes the stories of their lives interesting. And they move along nicely with action and adventure.

Okay, I am done. I think.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Eerdman's has had some really great stuff in recent years:

The Song of Francis and the Animals has GREAT woodcuts...

And the illustrator just did another one for them illustrating a poem by one of the founders of the beat movement....

(That's a list I fantasize about breaking into.... it's VERY small, but everything on it is top notch!)

Stella said...

Here are some picture books I love:

The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau, by Jon Agee

Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp, by Pat McKissack

The Rag Coat, by Lauren Mills

Thank You, Mr. Falker, by Polacco

Just a few of many.

Bev. Cooke said...

The Gargoyles by Dav Pilkey - author of the Captain Underpants books. This is about as different from his usual fare as you can get, and is a wonderful, gentle, beautifully illustrated picture book.

By the by - thanks for the blog - even though I'm a published YA writer, I'm still learning lots and love your sense of humour.

Anonymous said...

I just read the Skippyjon Jones book one and the Mummy one. Yep...great writing and endings. I mean there is actual poetic writing there with gusto!! And attitude.

And, yes, Macrina... gargoyles rock sunshine. Unfortunately, mine disintegrated into cyberspace. But I'll get him back.

Anonymous said...


Melissa said...

If I Built A Car by Chris Van Dusen has fabulous art and a brilliant rhyming story that scans perfectly and thus is a joy to read aloud. (His Mr. Magee books are great too, as is his art for Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson series.)

Alpha Oops: the Day Z Went First also has brilliant art and a totally fun story with jokes both for the kids and the parents.

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen has beautiful old-fashioned art and an engrossing story.

Anonymous said...

I love the picture/ABC book about garbage trucks called I Stink by Kate and Jim McMullen, The Day the Babies Crawled Away and a series of dinosaur books (with one being) How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. These are some of the books I try to keep on the top shelf so my two younger kids can't easily destroy them.

Anonymous said...

Oh so many!

For the word-nerd in me:
The Boy Who Ate Words
by Thierry Didieu (sp?)

For the quirkyness:
by Eric Rohman

For the sheer fun of it:
Chicken Soup, Boots
By Maira Kalman

For the design geek in me:
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster
by Mo Willems

And I can go on. I have way more children's books than my sister-in-law with the two boys, and I have no kids of my own!

Love it!

Anonymous said...

Milo's Hat Trick

Vacuum Queen said...

For me...I love all things Tommy DePoalo. My kids think the Strega Nona series is hilarious and I agree. Plus, I can't get enough of his wonderful illustrations. I would love to read NEW things from him. I wonder how old he is by now?

Also, the Fancy Nancy illustrations are amazing. My daughter is exactly that character, so it just sings to me.

We've tried the Skippyjon stuff. I don't get it. Clearly I'm in the minority. It's one of those books that when I first read it I couldn't believe it was published. Then I learned it was a series. Guess that's why I'm not a publisher.

Oh...and my two boys LOVE an out of print book called, The Green Machine by Polly Cameron. Easy to memorize and fun to read. Wish it was republished. Does that ever happen??

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