Thursday, December 6, 2012

Day 6: Picture This, Kids!

It's Day 6 of our 24 Days of Books. Holy cats, how does the time move so fast in December?? This post is one of the hardest I write each year, yet one of the posts I enjoy the most: children's picture books. I'm a huge fan of picture books -- a love generated and nurtured by my mom, an elementary school librarian for many years.

The hard part about writing this post is choosing which books to highlight from the many, many wonderful and well-deserving books that would make ideal gifts for the youngsters in your life. Besides picture books, we also have lots of board books and early readers and nonfiction books for kids and pop-up books and oh the list goes on and on. Come see us and we'll help you find just the right gifts. (We'll also be talking about books for older young readers in a later post.)

One of my current favorite picture books authors is Jon Klassen. Last year's book, I Want My Hat Back, made me laugh out loud, with its understated and wry dialogue. The illustrations (which Klassen also does) are simple and charming.

Klassen is back with another hat-centered picture-book charmer: This is Not My Hat. Again using spare but gorgeous illustrations paired with darkly comic minimal dialogue, Klassen delivers another winner that will truly tickle your kid's funny bone. Both hat books are published by Candlewick Press.

Klassen is the illustrator for two other picture books I'm fond of: House Held Up by Trees, written by Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet Ted Klooser, and Extra Yarn, written by Mac Barnett. And as long as I'm mentioning Mac Barnett, his newest picture book Chloe and the Lion (illustrated by Adam Rex), presents a hilarious tale of the importance of working together and pairing your talents, rather than fighting over whose are more valuable. (I loved it!)

It's always a great year when one of my all-time-favorite picture book authors/illustrators comes out with a new book: Ian Falconer, the man behind the wonderful Olivia series. In Olivia and the Fairy Princesses, our strong-willed, opinionated piglet goes on a hilarious quest for individuality in a world too full of ruffly, sparkly princesses. The book is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Atheneum has also recently issued a full boxed set of all seven Olivia picture books. Wow. If I didn't already own all seven I'd be snapping this set up in a heartbeat. Maybe I still will. What a wonderful gift this would make -- the kind of set that can be passed along through the generations, as Olivia is certainly a classic worth keeping.

Another very sweet new series comes from northwest native (she grew up in my hometown of Walla Walla)  Deborah Underwood (who now lives in the Bay Area) and illustrated by Renata Liwska: The Quiet Book, The Loud Book, and now The Christmas Quiet Book, celebrating the quiet sounds of the holiday season. The series is published by Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt. (Guess which book parents buy more of between The Quiet Book and The Loud Book???)

This Moose Belongs to Me, a new picture book written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, is the story of a boy and his moose (doesn't everyone have a pet moose?), in which the moose is more than a little resistant to the rules the boy tries to impose on him. This book is sure to set off a fit of giggles. (And it's featured in our Holiday Books guide this year.) Jeffers' absurdly funny book from last year, Stuck -- in which a boy gets his kite stuck in a tree and attempts to knock it down -- is one of my favorites.

Another picture book I love is being covered in another blog about book-related books, but I'll just mention it briefly here: The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce. It definitely scores a WOW in my book.

As always, you can find many more wonderful gift ideas in our Holiday Books guide, available at the store. See you soon!

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