Thursday, December 8, 2011

Children's Picture Books to Drool Over

I am a nut for children's picture books. So many of them are so clever, or funny, or gorgeous -- or all of the above -- that I find them hard to resist. Here are a few of my current favorite picture books -- although it's awfully hard to narrow it down to these few.  Come explore the whole section if you can!

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, which tells the story of a bear who has lost his hat, is described by the New York Times as "a charmingly wicked little book." Recently on NPR's Weekend Edition the story was read by Daniel Pinkwater and Scott Simon. Cute!

Winner of the 2010 Caldecott Medal for The Lion and the Mouse, Jerry Pinkney's newest -- and stunningly gorgeous -- book is Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. In this breathtaking rendition of our most enduring lullaby, Pinkney lights a path for sleepy readers on their way to a land where dreams are as real as you want them to be.

Oliver Jeffers makes art and tells stories, and he does both beautifully. In his newest picture book, Stuck, Floyd attempts to get his kite unstuck from a tree, with laugh-out-loud results. I also loved his book The Heart and the Bottle.

Loren Long continues the adventures of heroic little Otis the tractor in his newest book Otis and the Tornado. This book (like its predecessor) is marvelously illustrated. Long also illustrated President Obama's picture book Of Thee I Sing. [And don't forget that you can buy a "plush Otis" to go along with the book!]

McSweeney's launched a children's book imprint this year, and one of their first books is Symphony City by Amy Martin, who recently moved to Portland. Martin uses color and short staccato phrases to capture a world of sound using only visual cues. And the book's dust jacket unfolds into a giant double-sided poster!

You really have to see Press Here, by Herve Tullet, to understand just how wonderful it truly is. But here are some reviewers' comments to pique your interest: "This book is 100% magic." "Compared to the squawking sounds and flashing lights of many toys, Tullet's simplicity is a breath of fresh air." "Every once and a while a book comes along exemplifying such a rare simultaneous brilliance and simplicity that you cannot believe the world of words ever functioned before its conception." I'm also rather fond of another of Tullet's books, The Book with a Hole,  although it is a challenge to shelve!

With the aura of an established classic, the first volume in William Joyce’s long-anticipated series “The Guardians of Childhood,” The Man in the Moon offers a dazzling, breathtaking landscape. Readers will be happy to know that many books and films will follow. Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) says, "William Joyce, to put it simply, is a genius."
Bumble-Ardy, the first book Maurice Sendak has written and illustrated in thirty years, is about a mischievous pig who throws a party for himself, with wild results. Sendak has won a pot-load of awards for his children's books, including the Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are. Sendak wrote Bumble-Ardy while his friend and partner was dying. I dare you to listen to this interview with Terry Gross without tearing up.

Last but not least (make me stop!) is an adorable board book based on last year's sensational picture book: It's a Little Book, by Lane Smith. It's a Little Book (versus It's a Book) has altered the final line in the book, for those of you who were wondering. As delightful and charming as the original as it reveals the virtues of books, but for a younger level of reader who might opt to chew on books literally, not figuratively.

Lots lots more, but I'm sure you're ready to stop reading this blog and start looking at books!

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