Tag Archives: favorite picture books
Heather from Tiny Readers asked me for my 10 favorite picture books (and created that cool image), so here goes! She’s going to feature this on her super inspiring instagram feed, which I hope you’ll check out and follow!
It was a (fun!) doozy choosing! I agonized for days over my choices. I had to narrow it down, so these are all published in the last 15 years. (Stay tuned for a classics edition!)
They are books I have a strong emotional reaction to. They are extraordinary in one way or another (or several all at once). They reflect my own personal tastes and obsessions, but they also feel to me like contemporary classics. They are books that have beauty as well as meaning and heart. They are books that will last and are rich when returned to.
Here goes in no particular order (with apologies to all the wonderful and dear-to-me books I’ve left out):
The Red Tree by Shaun Tan is one of my biggest influences as a writer and Tan is my very favorite creator of the form. This picture book moves me deeply each time I read it. It’s for anyone who feels like they’ve lost their way. It is sad and strange and inventive and full of hope.
Virginia Wolf by Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault combines the real sisters Virginia and Vanessa with an imagined case of the doldrums and the wolfish mood it can (don’t we know it!) create. It’s through art, through a whimsical place Vanessa envisions called Bloomsbury that turns Virginia from wolf to girl, from gloom to glad again. Plus, Isabelle Arsenault.
Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers is most certainly a contemporary classic. And for good reason! Jeffers has been incredibly influential to current picture book fare. And this, one of his first, has so much charm and playfulness and an irresistible duo on that umbrella-boat.
Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell, pictures by Christian Robinson. This is a picture book for the older set about the tough, inspiring, dazzling life of Josephine Baker. It lengthens traditional picture book form in order to tell a fuller story from start to finish and has colorful, vibrant, practically move-on-the-page illustrations to make you really stop and look.
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen is by two creators/collaborators at the top of their game. I love the illustrations, the sweaters, the whimsy, the knitter at the center of this fairy tale. But what I love most is the surprise twist and the ending. Oh yes.
Jemmy Button by Jennifer Uman & Valerio Vidali is exquisitely illustrated. It’s based on the true and troubling account of Europeans in the 1800s trying to “civilize” someone who had his own civilization he preferred to return to.
The Tree House by Marije Tolman and Ronald Tolman (a father and daughter) is breathtaking and original. It shows off what a wordless picture book can do. It’s about companionship: the wild huzzahs of a party with flamingoes and the calm, content days spent reading in one another’s company.
Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty, pictures by David Roberts is another incredible collaboration. Wonderful, fun-loving, masterful rhyme. Rich visual details. So much stuff to notice. And at its heart, a talented, solitary woman with a lot of hats and heart to share.
The Lion and the Bird is by Marianne Dubuc, extraordinary author/illustrator. And the pair of characters she’s created is endearing and enduring, the friendship they’ve found as rare as the beauty of this spare and perfectly crafted book. Just look at their matching pink cheeks!
Finally, Swan by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Julie Morstad, a very recent pick. Julie Morstad has illustrated many very special picture books (This is Sadie, How To) and this one is so gorgeous as to make me weep. Same goes for Snyder’s poetic text that so beautifully conveys the yearning, the passion, the calling of dance and doesn’t shy away from that final scene.
Thanks for the opportunity to highlight some of my very favorite books, Heather! Here’s some more about Heather and Tiny Readers:
Heather Hawkins is a Dallas-based photographer, mother of two and a children’s book enthusiast. Recently she started a project called Tiny Readers which aims to share children’s book reviews as well as feature contributing opinions from other parents, in order to bring awareness to childhood literacy and the benefits of reading. You can check out Tiny Readers on instagram here!
Trisha Krauss is an illustrator who began her career in New York City. She now lives in London where she illustrated her first book for Puffin, Maude the Not-So-Noticeable Shrimpton by Lauren Child. This year she wrote and illustrated Charlotte’s Very Own Dress for Random House USA, which will be published in Autumn of 2016. She is currently working on ideas for two more books.
Three books that influenced Trisha Krauss:
1. The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright
One of my favourite books as a child was The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright. When I reread it as an adult I was equally smitten. The pictures throughout the book are black and white photographs and they feature three very unsuspecting characters. Edith is a doll who pines for company until Mr. Bear and Little Bear come to her rescue. Her soft felt features serve almost as a blank canvas in which the author tells this rather melancholic and beautifully timed tale. The mystery and glamour of the settings breath air into this Lenci doll and make her an unforgettable and slightly naughty character. The image of Edith holding Little Bear’s hand while facing Brooklyn Bridge in the fog is breathtakingly poignant. Who would have known that this little doll could still conjure up so much feeling in the heart of this grown up girl?
2. Lyle, Lyle Crocodile by Bernard Waber
If I could have married Lyle, Lyle Crocodile I would have. He has all the qualities that I love in a person. Above all he is fun and good-hearted. Unfortunately he is a crocodile, a fictional character at that, and I am already married. I love him for life regardless. Lyle has no idea that he is different, largely because the Primm family on East 88th Street treat him like part of the family. He cannot for the life of him understand why Loretta, the neighbour’s cat, takes issue with the mere sight of him and desperately tries to win her over. The story takes you from a brownstone in New York to the park and various places in the city. Ultimately Lyle goes to a big department store with Mrs. Primm, handbag tucked under her arm, and a series of wonderfully silly events take place. The beautiful, inky illustrations in this book gave me my first love for a crocodile and for New York City. Thank you Mr. Waber for Lyle, Lyle Crocodile.
3. Wild by Emily Hughes
I could list another 10 books that my mother read to me as my all time favourites but this book, Wild, has stopped me in my tracks. It is simply splendid. The illustrations have a sweeping Mary Blair inspired magnificence to them. There is also a retro Golden Book feel to the wild animals illustrated on uncoated paper with an ink-saturated paper smell. As an illustrator, I am in awe of the artistry of the illustrations. As an author, I am impressed with the simple text backed up by beautifully rendered art. The main character is unnamed in the book and she has crazy, expressive, enormous eyes. There are twigs and dried leaves in her tangled hair and she is naked throughout the book until “They” try to tame her. Emily Hughes found her character and went wild with her. And she is right, “You cannot tame something so happily wild”…
You may be interested in my post on Maude, The Not-So-Noticeable Shrimpton, illustrated by Trisha Krauss. It’s a favorite from the archives!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.)