I got lost in the bookstore today. Maybe you saw me. I was the girl with the faulty lid on her coffee cup, (as evidenced by the dark stains down the front of both shirt and jeans), reading picture books in the corner. I read lots and lots of books, and I looked at even more pictures. Here are my favorites:
Puff the Magic Dragon written by Lenny Lipton and Bruce Foster, illustrated by Eric Puybaret
Written by the folks from Peter, Paul & Mary (responsible also for the song), this book has GORGEOUS illustrations. Stunningly beautiful, I almost bought it for a baby shower gift, but the story has a bittersweet ending, so I didn’t. It also comes with a 4-song CD, and the latent soccer mom in me cringed at the thought of having to listen to the same four songs on repeat ad infinitum while I slowly lose my mind.
Wave by Suzy Lee
No words in this book, don’t need ‘em. Delightfully simple and playful illustrations of a girl and a playful wave at the beach.
Chick n’ Pug written by Jennifer Sattler, illustrated by Anna Currey
Hilarious. Love these characters– a chick who idolizes a pug. The pug is oblivious to his own awesomeness, he just wants to nap. To paraphrase my two-pug-having friend, Tim: ”Pugs naturally lend lend themselves as characters in children’s books just by their very puggishness.”
Rocket Writes a Story written and illustrated by Tad Hills
Totally adored this book, especially as someone in the process of writing/illustrating stories. Rocket is a dog who has learned to read (a bird taught him), and now he wants to write a story. I love Rocket. He is very courageous, because writing is like, hard and stuff. And I have thumbs– you’d think I’d have an advantage, but Rocket finished writing his story (to rave reviews) in just under 32 pages. I’ve been working on mine for 16 months… no end in sight.
Bear has a Story to Tell written by Phillip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead
Endearing. I hold a special place in my heart for bears (they remind me of my dad), and this guy is sweet, simple and classic. Beautifully illustrated– looks like watercolor and pencil, maybe. Love the circular nature of the story.
We are in a Book! written and illustrated by Mo Willems
This book was hilarious. I LOL’d. I love self-referential humor, and the whole book is about a pig and an elephant who are really happy you are reading their book. My favorite line: “This book is going too fast! I have more to give!” Also love the way the font size varies for emphasis. I want to get all typographical in my books too.
This Is Not My Hat written and illustrated by Jon Klassen
By the author that brought you I Want My Hat Back, this is the same story told from the other perspective and using different characters (fish in this one). Elegant, simple, direct. This book is pure genius, and I love the voice of the narrative.
Bear Snores On written by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman
I didn’t read this one from cover to cover, as my allotted time was running out, but I flipped through enough to get a gist of the story. Really cute bear.
So reviewing this list of books, I have learned a few things about myself:
I prefer stories about animals over stories about people. This goes back as far as I remember. Even when I was the littlest of kids, I didn’t want human dolls– I wanted stuffed animals. I had a vast menagerie, and my goal was to collect every species of animal of which I was aware. Yes, indeed, I *did* have a platypus. What, you didn’t?
Simplicity. I was struck by the elegance and simplicity of these books. Jon Klassen’s book had the simplest of illustrations, varying little from page to page, with lots of repetition. Puff the Magic Dragon had an easily readable yet fanciful style, as if Art Deco had a baby with Minimalism. Mo Willems has a sketchy and naive style- Elephant and Pig look like doodles drawn on a moving bus. Backgrounds in most of them were minimal or non-existent.
In conclusion: I love books! Next time I will go the library, so I can bring them home with me for a bit, but I won’t have to pack them in boxes and carry them next time I move house.