Tag Archives: picture books by the decade

picture books by the decade: 8 books from the 80s

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?


Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 3.51.27 PM 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.) Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 4.01.03 PMThe 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!

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 3.40.04 PMI 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.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 4.36.35 PM Imogene’s Antlers by David Small.

I recently featured this book, so everything I love about it can be found here.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 4.08.17 PM  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!).   Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 4.15.34 PMOwl 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.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 4.19.29 PMLon 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.

Screen Shot 2014-05-13 at 4.24.43 PM 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…

picture books by the decade / the 70s

thefunnylittlewomanThe Funny Little Woman retold by Arlene Mosel, pictures by Blair Lent. (1972)



This Caldecott winner is a funny one indeed. Bizarrely so, but ultimately entertaining and mysterious.



(Be warned that the underground monsters, called oni, are pretty scary looking.)

My favorite bits are: 1.) the hilarity of the funny little woman’s laugh, “Tee-he-he-he”; 2.) the parallel story told through illustrations of the woman’s house through the seasons and its new visitors while she’s away from it.




streganonaStrega Nona, an old tale retold and illustrated by Tomie de Paola. (1975)

A familiar classic that stands the test of time. Full of interest and suspense and charming illustrations.



And check out that illustration spread before the title page that also concludes the book! Beautiful colors and mise en scene. I also love the page with the townspeople and their forks twirled with pasta, mouths open and ready to eat.




butnameswillneverhurtmeBut Names Will Never Hurt Me by Bernard Waber. (1976)


Told in the second person, Alison Wonderland hears the story of her name. Her name that sounds a lot like the title of a very famous book. (Alis-on Wonderland!)

There are years of history that led to that name, years of conversations between grandparents and parents that are pretty endearing.

Alison has no idea she has a troublesome name until she goes to school. Then she finds out pretty quick. But not to worry! In the end, she grows up and embraces her name, no longer minding its association with white rabbits.

Not to mention that title page illustration that alludes to the problem with Alison’s name. Very clever!



thebigorangesplotThe Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater. (1977)


My very very favorite from this decade! After a seagull drops a bucket of orange paint on Mr. Plumbean’s house, things will never be the same on that same same neat neat street!

That big orange splot inspires Mr. Plumbean to paint his house to resemble “a rainbow,” “a jungle,” “and explosion.” One by one, he inspires all the neighbors too.

This book kind of embodies the 70s. Not only that, it’s hilarious for kids and adults. The grownup language and figures of speech Pinkwater uses throughout are a hoot.


And two more 70s faves  I’ve talked about on This Picture Book Life before:

Everybody Needs a Rock (1974)


William’s Doll (1972)


Okay, now you! Any picture books from the 70s to add?