my six favorite picture books of 2014

I give you, my six very favorite books of 2014 and why.

(Please remember I haven’t read every book published this year—how I wish Viva Frida and The Farmer and the Clown were at my library—sigh.  So do tell me your favorites in the comments for us all to check out when we can!)

(Please also remember that I was selective. Hugely, massively, almost impossibly selective.)

I’m choosing just the books that really wowed me. Me as a particular reader. And me as a particular writer who took inspiration from these, some because they’re exactly what I’d like to create and some because they’re exactly the wonderful kind of thing I never ever could.

Here goes.


Sparky by Jenny Offill & Chris Appelhans.

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about this book. I was being selfish with it, it’s true. (Though the main character did once get a fashion shootout for best homemade costume!) The girl’s narration is pitch-perfect. Hilarious. Insightful. Childlike and sophisticated, that coveted combination. It will make you laugh and then melt your heart at the end.




Hug Me by Simona Ciraolo.

What is this book honest about? It’s honest about Felipe the Cactus’s prickly family. Of course all families aren’t prickly, but to portray one that is that way, I find truthful and daring. Authentic and helpful. And yet, it’s fun!  Not mention how adorable Felipe is or the way he journeys to finally find kinship.



Fox’s Garden by Princesse Camcam.

This picture book really packs a punch. Incredibly beautiful cut-paper scenes and then the quiet, touching heart of the story: A little boy who is kind to a fox. And the fox’s gift in return. A story for winter and kindness and slowing down to look.


THE-RULES-OF-SUMMER-2014Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan.

It’s impossible for me not to like one of Tan’s books. This one showcases his bizarreness at its finest. Not only that, it’s a portrait of a complicated sibling relationship between two brothers. There are layers to look at and puzzles to contemplate. All in the most enjoyable, poignant way.




Beekle by Dan Santat.

Beekle is so adorable that I had to craft him out of marshmallows. I think this is a character that will stick around. He’s brave and good and you just want to give him a squeeze. Plus, he’s the charming star of a magical story of imagination and friendship. There’s a friend out there for everyone, if you just believe. This picture book reminds me a whole lot of a couple of my very favorite books ever.



Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts.

This book is beautiful and stylish and heartwarming. But what sticks out most to me is what a fabulous example of writer and artist collaboration it is. Beaty and Robertst are so clearly a team and they’ve created a collaborated quilt of loveliness and detail and surprise.



Cheers to another year of exuberantly wonderful picture books and another yet to come!

(p.s. Here are 10 that took my breath away last year.)


19 Responses to my six favorite picture books of 2014

  1. Julie Falatko says:

    What a great list!

  2. I have a particular fascination for Madame Chapeau, just as you say, as a whole piece of work. Beekle’s story reminded me too much of another I adore, Beegu. Sparky and the girl are favorite new characters too. To add, I really liked The Pilot and the Little Prince, from Peter Sis, but there are still too many I haven’t seen yet either, despite my best efforts, but the year is not yet over!

    • BEEGU is an all-time favorite of mine too! I see the two books as different (though I see the similarities!). To me, Beegu is about being an alien and confronting unkindness, except when he meets children whereas Beekle is about that one imaginary friend meant for another and the power of even invisible friendships. That said, I hear you!! 🙂 They definitely echo each other with the dark real world and more. Also, I like your taste in books!

  3. And I like your choices! You just reminded me that I was going to buy a couple of these for Christmas presents. Thanks!

  4. 2014 has been a phenomenal year for picture books! So many good ones. One of my favorites was The Farmer and the Clown, but I’m a sucker for Marla Frazee’s illustrations. I have to admit, I read Rules of Summer, but I didn’t get it AT ALL. Now you’re making me think I better pick it up again and try a little harder. 🙂

  5. Wonderful list! I also loved “The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse” – brief and beautiful. And “Gaston” was charming as well…

  6. pwyehuns says:

    Drawings are deceptively simple. Inspired my high school boys when creating their children’s books on endangered species. Love it.

  7. Very impressed that you were able to choose. I can absolutely NEVER narrow it down unless, unless, maybe bribed with Tootsie Rolls, Graham Crackers, Cheese Cake and Jamoca Almond Fudge ice cream!

  8. Bonnie Eng says:

    I still remember many of these titles from the posts when you originally introduced them! It must be so hard for you to pick favorites. These books are definitely memorable…clever story lines and captivating imagery…love these! 🙂

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