Who knew the 80s were such a great picture book decade? These are my eight faves (all read as an adult), but I want to hear from you too! Were you a child of the eighties and read a certain book? Or a parent of the eighties and read a well-loved book to a child?
Friends by Helme Heine.
My dear friend Anna sent me this one and it’s super sweet. “Sometimes good friends can’t be together.” But they can still send lovely mail. (Also, the character name “fat Percy,” for a pig, is pretty hilarious.) The Philharmonic Gets Dressed (Reading Rainbow Book) by Karla Kuskin, illustrations by Marc Simont.
As the name may or may not suggest, this literally details how 105 members of the philharmonic get dressed. It’s totally unconventional—we see them get ready to go to work in all their disparate homes and disparate ways. Even bathing and putting on their underwear! And then, finally, they all begin to play!
I Know a Lady by Charlotte Zolotow, pictures by James Stevenson.
This is a sweet portrait of a single older lady told from the perspective of one of the neighbor kids she befriends. This woman gives the children on her street flowers and berries through all the seasons. I love it for its positive image of seniors, of singles, of intergenerational connections.
Imogene’s Antlers by David Small.
I recently featured this book, so everything I love about it can be found here.
John Patrick Norman Mchennessy: the Boy Who Was Always Late by John Burningham.
Guys, this one’s bizarre and a little creepy (those illustrations!), but it’s pretty genius too. Some crazy stuff happens to this kid on his way to school, but his teacher never believes him—grownups don’t believe it when kids say they encounter crocodiles. Until of course, one of those crazy things happens to the teacher (aka a gorilla pays a visit!). Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr.
An exquisite, still book in which a father and daughter go owling in the woods one winter night. You know it, right? It’s amazing.
Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young.
This Chinese tale is familiar in its grandmother/wolf elements, but strange, eery, and new. Its pastel-looking illustrations are dark and breathtaking.
For Every Child 1989 by Unicef, illustrated by a variety of artists.
A distillation of the UN Convention’s Rights of a Child. A world that honors these would be a wonderful world indeed.
Now you go. PBs of the 80s…