Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pick Up These Picture Books

Picture books are the easiest of all books to select. The process is simple. Find a bookstore or library and head to their picture book section. Pick up books at random and leaf through them. I can spend hours (and much money) doing this. Picture books can be totally irresistible. They can also be pretty but not well written or beautifully written with illustrations that spoil it all. You have to be careful, but you are sure to find something that appeals to you.

The key is to have the picture book you select appeal to you and, if you plan to share the joy, your listener. Here are some picture books that appeal to me.

  1. Peter Brown is a fairly new discovery of mine. His two most recent books drew my eye to the large, friendly looking bear on the cover. Children Make Terrible Pets features that young bear hugging a small boy. The story and its charming illustration show Lucy,the bear. interacting with her new pet child. She appears to be having a wonderful time with Squeak, as she names him, until he exhibits behavior problems, just as her mother had warned. A suitable moral is learned at the end. In YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND (yes, it is in all caps.) Lucy is desperately searching for a friend. Her bumbling approach seems to make success impossible. Or is it? Could another clever moral await?

  2. Eric Litwin and James Dean have two charming, simple stories about Pete the Cat with another one coming out in May of 2012. In Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes this very cool cat puts on his new white shoes and proceeds to walk through various items (i.e. fresh fruit, mud) which change the color of his shoes but never interfere with their cool factor. Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes takes a tour of school letting his shoes make him feel confident in every location. The rhythm of the text makes these books a joy to read aloud.

  3. Ahhh... Jon Agee! This author, illustrator never lets me down. His most recent, My Rhinoceros, is no exception. A young boy goes to the exotic pet store and selects a rhinoceros. Initially it seems to be a real dud because it doesn't do anything of interest. Am expert tells him that he has a perfectly good rhino because all rhinos do is pop balloons and poke holes in kites. That seems boring until the rhinoceros proves that he is a super hero and saves the day. While you are in the Agee section, take a look at Milo's Hat Trick, Nothing, The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau, and all the others.

  4. I am sure I have said it before, but I will say it again. No child today should grow up without being introduced to Mo Willems. The Pigeon books (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and many more), the Knuffle Bunny books, and the Elephant and Piggie books are all destined to be classics. Read them all. Then read Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, Amanda and Her Alligator, and Leonardo the Terrible Monster. All of these will make you laugh. Finally, savor City Dog, Country Frog. It will fill you with joy. You can't go wrong with Willems.

  5. Eric Carle has a new book out called The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse. It is a tribute to the artist Franz Marc but what young readers will care about is that it features Carle's bright and interesting illustration collages along a path to creative thinking. It is beautiful.

There are so many more great authors and illustrations of children's books that I could go on for hours. I will stop here and simply encourage you to go look for yourself.

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