Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Some Good Picture Books


Picture books offer something for everyone. I tell my students that picture books have a call number that begins with "E" for just that reason. Everyone can find something to enjoy on this list.


A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee may actually appeal more to adults than to children. When two young boys spend a week-end with the grandparents of one of the boys, they experience things in ways that are familiar to any one who ever been a child. Grandpa’s driving gets them to the beach house, but also adds to their vocabularies. They simply soak up all that the freedom of outdoor play has to offer, finding that this is the key to having a great week. The illustrations are filled with humor and add greatly to the story.

Epossumandus Plays Possum by Colleen Salley is the fourth in this series which features one of the world’s few truly cute possums. The diaper he wears adds to the humor and the appeal. Once again, Epossumandus takes an old story to make it new. Every one of these books is worth a look.

Dragon’s Love by Stephen Parlato does not have much of a plot, but that really does not matter because they illustrations are so beautiful and creative. When the dragon says its loves feathers, the illustration shows a dragon made entirely of feathers. If the dragon loves butterflies or lizards or something else, that love fills the entire page with color. This is a treat for the eye and a great excuse to study each picture for hours on end.

Thunder Boomer by Shutta Crum (who lives in Ann Arbor) is a lovely story of a young girl and her family as they experience an exciting, slightly frightening, and amazing thunder storm. This newest by Crum is my personal favorite of her many picture books.

Learning to Fly and Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser are my favorite finds of this fall. Learning to Fly begins with a man finding a penguin who tried to fly and could until others told him that penguins don’t fly. The man helps the penguin in many amusing and impractical ways. The conclusion is a lovely moral. Waiting for Winter captures the excitement of the first taste of snow by showing a squirrel and his friends as they imagine snow and then celebrate the arrival of winter. The illustrations make both of these books stand out. Never before have I seen such few lines carry so much humor and feeling.

Egg Drop by Mini Grey is the hilarious tale of a little egg who wants to fly. The bold little egg climbs to the top of a tall tower (kids love the drops of sweat on the poor egg’s forehead/shell) and then jumps off. He thinks he is flying, but, of course, he merely falls. Despite all efforts, he can’t be put back together. Don’t stop reading until you find the twist at the end.

Chicken Little by Rebecca Emberly and Ed Emberly gives free reign to this daughter/father team to add colorful illustrations and a few surprises to the familiar tale. There are many versions of this story available, with this being one of the most recent and certainly one of the brightest, in many senses of the word.


There are more and more non-fiction picture books from biographies to science to folk tales. I will include more in other lists, but here are some to get you started.

This is the Oasis by Miriam Moss effectively captures the vast open spaces of the Sahara Desert and then shows the color and activity of the oasis. The text is simple and blends well with the illustrations. There is enough information to offer the start of a good research paper while also being a good recreational read.

Tarra & Bella: The Elephant and the Dog Who Became Best Friends by Carol Buckley joins many other books that feature surprising animal friendships. Like the others (If you haven’t read Owen and Mzee about the hippo and the turtle who become friends, please go find it and its sequels as soon as you can.) There is more text than the usual picture book and a wealth of nice photographs. It is hard not to love a dog or an elephant, so it is hard not to ooh and ahhh over this book.

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