Oh, the joy of picture books. As a round two judge for the Cybils’ Fiction Picture Books category, I was thrilled when the seven finalists were announced. Before the post was up for an hour, I had all the books on hold at the library, other than the ones that already had a place in my children’s collection. As my kids and I happily devoured those seven books, a few jumped to the top for me.
Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex
I love me some Mac Barnett because this guy knows funny. I see this book as better understood and appreciated by older children than my usual preschool-kindergarten mindset, but it can work with some younger kids with a little bit of explanation. See, this isn’t your average picture book, but instead takes a more “meta” approach– a picture book in which the author and illustrator themselves get involved on the page. Their differences of opinion about the course of the story makes for some hilarity, especially in the pictures that will surely crack up the kids and the parents reading with them.
Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown
I joyfully reviewed this delightfully noir-ish picture book last fall, and I can attest to its appeal based upon my readings to my preschool class and my school’s kindergarten class, too. Get ready for a black and white (and orange!) motif, and page frames that call to mind The Twilight Zone on an old-timey television. Beyond the super cool look, this is a fun story about a bunny who just can’t get enough carrots, until it seems that the carrots are out to get him. This one is a hit and makes for a fun read aloud for those of us willing to play it up in front of a willing audience.
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen
Shh! Don’t tell anyone but this is my favorite of the bunch. (And, it’s another Mac Barnett book– a banner year for him!) With a box of colorful, never-ending yarn, Annabelle transforms her drab looking town into a beautifully bright rainbow of colors by knitting sweaters and coverings for people and animals alike. When she’s outfitted everyone (even Mr. Crabtree, who prefers a hat to a sweater), Annabelle moves onto making coverings for the landscape and town environment, too. Enter the Archduke and his desire to have Annabelle’s box of yarn. He may go to great and dastardly lengths to get it, but what will become of the magic? We at the Cybils are not alone in recognizing this one or Creepy Carrots, both named 2013 Caldecott Honor Books.
And the winner, of course, was A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead
Meet Vernon, a toad with a big heart. He’s on a mission to help his new friend Bird. Bird appears to be just a little bit shy, so Vernon doesn’t have much to go on. But that doesn’t stop him, and he exhibits nothing but kindness in his efforts. A clue in the pictures at the beginning will let children in on the little secret of Bird’s true identity. This quiet book offers an subtle lesson on friendship and empathy, two important and meaningful themes for young readers.
You can’t go wrong with any of these wonderful picture books, and I highly recommend them as additions to your children’s home libraries!
Dawn’s adoration of picture books gets indulged every day as a preschool teacher and a mom. She blogs every now and then at my thoughts exactly.