Tag Archives: roxaboxen

9 picture books from the 90s


This is my latest installment of picture books by the decade. How great was the 90s for picture books? Seriously great. At least I think so. (Notice I’ve used bubble writing for the years in each picture!)


Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney was on my PBs for summer list as well because it’s quintessentially summer and captures the magic of childhood at the same time. Ah, this book. A favorite. A classic. Perfection.


The Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg is dark and clever and deals with (this is Chris Van Allsburg!) magic. A woman, a witch, a broom, what the neighbors think, and the meaning of evil.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 3.15.00 PM


Pumpkins: A Story for a Field by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Barry Root. I’ve sung this one’s praises here before too. But really it just blows me away. Early Mary Lyn Ray is so so good. (As is later and current!)




Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say is a dear to my heart book about immigration, family, and having two homes. It’s one of the first picture books I loved as an adult.


Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 3.03.36 PM

The Library by Sarah Stewart, pictures by David Small is a tribute to books and libraries and this lovable nose-in-a-book-character, Elizabeth Brown, who embodies both.



A Special Kind of Love by Stephen Michael King is quite an unusual book. It’s about a father who can’t say the words, “I love you,” to his son, so he shows him through the stuff he makes with his hands.




Night Driving by John Coy, illustrated by Peter McCarthy is another father/son book. It’s slow and quiet like a road trip and full of details for soaking up.



Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 3.20.58 PM

A Picture Book of Amelia Earhart by David A. Adler, illustrated by Jeff Fisher. I do love a heroic  historical lady biography.



Weslandia by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes is one of my favorite books, period. Wesley is a bullied boy. He’s also an ingenious one. Over summer vacation, he turns his backyard into a veritable civilization by growing one staple crop. It’s strange and brilliant and empowering.



Looking at this list of my faves from the 90s, I’m not sure what conclusions to draw exactly. But I would note the magical realism threaded through this list. Relationships with family members figure into this bunch too, as well as relationships to special places.

Okay, your turn! Please tell me any of your favorite 90s picture books in the comments!

And check out 8 picture books from the 80s too!






10 books to celebrate summer!

Ah, summertime. It’s my favorite. Sun and water and stone fruit and sunsets, here we come!


Here are 10 quintessentially summer books to revel in!


Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 4.13.02 PM
Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe (1985).

Fireflies (or lightning bugs), as lovely and fleeting as a summer evening. The neighborhood kids grab their jars and run barefoot in the grass to catch as many as they can. But in one boy’s jar, the fireflies’ “light grew dimmer, green, like moonlight under water.” So he lets them go.


Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 4.08.52 PM



Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran, illustrated by Barbara Cooney (1991).

The wonderful place children create for themselves as children do: a town, a wilderness all their own. This book is a treasure. (Great pair with Andrew Henry’s Meadow.)


Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 4.19.31 PM



Beach by Elisha Cooper (2006).

Ah, the beach. This captures it.


Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 4.21.51 PM

Garmann’s Summer by Stian Hole (2008).

Wonderful and bizarre, this book in the Garmann series deals with the summer before starting school. And fear. My favorite element is the last line. Garmann finishes the book right where he started: scared. Because that’s true. But he’s explored so much along the way.



All in a Day by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Nikki McClure (2009).

This power pair presents a fresh, rhyming, sweet day filled with the outdoors and kindness.


Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 4.28.10 PM



Mermaid Queen: The Spectacular True Story of Annette Kellerman, Who Swam Her Way to Fame, Fortune & Swimsuit History! by Shana Corey, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (2009).

We all know I’m a huge Shana Corey fan and this book is another reason why. Another bio of an inspiring, courageous, and joyful historical woman who makes big waves in the water! (And has an effect on the progression of ladies’ bathing suits.)




Blackout by John Rocco (2011).

What could be more urban summer than a blackout in the city? Rocco knocks it out of the park with this one. Without light and buzzing things, there are so many lovely things to do—go to the roof, meet your neighbors, play a board game for a few.





Stars by Mary Lyn Ray, illustrated by Marla Frazee (2011).

Summer camping trips are the best times to see stars in the sky. But in this book, there are many kinds of stars and they will make your eyes sparkle with tears.





Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee (2012).

This book catalogs and captures all the magic of summer and of a child paying attention to every bit of it. The conversational tone and the light in the illustrations are captivating.



Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 6.02.48 PM



Night Sky Wheel Ride by Sheree Fitch, illustrations by Yayo (2013).

By far the most fantastical of the bunch, a brother and sister embark on a beautiful romp through a summer carnival. Just go along for the ferris wheel ride!


Please add your own summery favorites in the comments!


p.s. If you’re disappointed  I’ve left out baseball, don’t worry. I’ve got a baseball-themed post in the works!