National Picture Book Month
November is National Picture Book Month, and I thought I would contribute to the celebration with a list of ten of my favorite picture books. This is by no means a definitive list – I have hundreds of favorites! – but for our family, these books have stood the test of time and continue to delight, even after multiple readings. Many of them also ‘break the rules’ of picture book writing and publishing, and remind us that a unique idea, an original voice or a magical complement of story and art make it possible to venture beyond formulas and create something surprising and enduring:
Bark, George! (Jules Feiffer) – The giddy tale of a puppy who speaks every other animal’s language but his own – with superbly spare text and Feiffer’s brilliant, classic line-drawings.
The Dot (Peter H. Reynolds) – A child who thinks she has no creative talent learns how simple it can be to express oneself creatively and to take pleasure in the ownership of one’s efforts.
Goodnight, Moon (Margaret Wise Brown/Clement Hurd) – A little rabbit preparing for bed says goodnight to everyone and everything in his world. The perfect, classic bedtime story.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (Mo Willems) – A brilliant tribute to the often dramatic and unreasonable behavior of preschoolers, with simple but hilarious illustrations and text.
Harold and the Purple Crayon (Crockett Johnson) – Harold takes a memorable journey with a simple purple crayon… First published in 1955, a tribute to the power and wonder of imagination.
I Stink (Jim and Kate McMullan) – A hilarious ode to the humble garbage truck, reminding us that everyone has value and something to contribute.
Miss Rumphius (Barbara Cooney) – Alice Rumphius has three life quests – to see faraway places, to live by the sea in her old age, and to do something to make the world a more beautiful place.
Olivia (Ian Falconer) – The “Eloise” of pigs! Ian Falconer’s hilarious series about an unforgettable (if a tad precocious) porcine heroine.
Owen (Kevin Henkes) – Owen and his beloved blanket are inseparable, until the first day of kindergarten. Can his parents find a solution that suits everyone and helps their son transition?
Tell Me Something Happy Before I Go To Sleep (Joyce Dunbar/Debi Gliori) – A thoughtful bunny calms his younger sister’s nighttime fears by encouraging her to think happy thoughts.