Stay: A Girl, a Dog, a Bucket List by Kate Klise: Eli the dog has been with Astrid the girl since her parents brought her home from the hospital. Astrid is getting older, and so is Eli. Knowing that Eli won’t be with her forever, Astrid wants to create happy and fun memories with him, so she creates a bucket list of activities for the two to experience together.
I straight up ugly cried through this one, but even if stories about dogs and their stupid mortality weren’t my emotional kryptonite, this would have been a standout. Beautifully illustrated (by Klise’s sister), with simple, sweet text, the book allows readers to fully experience the very real relationship between the book’s two main characters. Hands down one of my favorite picture books of the year.
You Must Bring a Hat by Simon Philip: The one rule for attending the party of the year is that attendees must bring a hat. But what if you don’t have a hat? Will a monkey wearing a hat suffice?
Cute, silly, and full of vivid pictures, this one will be a hit with kids who like their stories repetitive but very funny. I really liked this one and thought it might work for a storytime in the future.
Not a lot of stand-outs this month, but I didn’t seek them out, either. I expect I’ll be reading a lot of picture books over the next two months as “best of” lists start appearing.
These are the picture books I read this month that were stand-outs to me. I try to only feature books that were published in 2017, but your mileage may vary.
Triangle by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (3/17):
Triangle lives in a triangle-shaped house. One day, he decides to play a trick on Square, who lives in a square house. What results is a bare-bones narrative that’s darkly funny, with striking visuals that are classic Klassen. I loved this one, and I used it immediately for one of my storytimes.
Life on Mars by Jon Agee (2/17): A silly, sneaky book with great illustrations (in the same vein of Klassen, actually), this book is about a space explorer so determined to find life on Mars that he’s blind to what’s really going on. Kids will love the visual jokes in the book, and adults will get a kick out of the sparse text, too. I thought this one was really clever and can’t wait to add it to my storytime repertoire.
This House, Once by Deborah Freeman (2/17): Gorgeous watercolors complement the simple text about the things that make up a house (and the house remembers). A great bedtime book, because the colors and the text make for a kind of sleepy, dreamy read. I loved this one.
I’m always taking picture book recommendations, so let me know if there’s something I’ve got to check out.
These are the best, most interesting picture books I read this week. Without further ado:
The Storm Whale in Winter by Benji Davies: I read this brilliant little picture book right after reading its predecessor, and both were moving and wholly engrossing. The illustrations are beautiful, the text is sparse and effective, and kids and adults will love how much these books reflect the beauty of life and friendship and family.
I seriously loved this one.
Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite by Stacy Mcanulty: This super cute book about a cat that’s sure he’s the favorite pet in the house will captivate readers with its bright pictures that could easily translate to TV screen and smart, funny, repetitive text that will engage early and beginning readers. This is super cute, super fun, and one that a lot of kids will be begging for again and again.
A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na: Na’s illustrations in this simple book are striking and definitely the best part of it. It’s a perfect bedtime book, and fit perfectly into my theme for storytime this week of “Animals at Night”.
These are some of the best picture books I’ve been reading this week.
Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis: This nonsense-worded story unfolds beautifully with richly drawn images helping propel the story, since there aren’t any actual English words to be found in its pages. The story is a lovely examination of nature and its cycles, and kids and parents alike will love imagining what the characters are talking about (probably something along the lines of “What is that?”). It’s also really fun to say the nonsense words aloud, giving early readers a chance to play around with sounds and language. I loved it and found it wholly charming.
The Bossier Baby by Marla Frazee: Frazee’s hilarious follow up to The Boss Baby couples detailed illustrations with very funny, insightful text. As the boss baby gets used to his new sister (the household’s new CEO), he struggles with what he deems to be better perks than the ones he’s used to. It’s a smart look at older children adapting to younger siblings, and Frazee’s wit will appeal to both adults and children. This is one that will beg to be revisited many times. Frazee’s work is not to be missed.
Little Bot and Sparrow by Jake Parker: This quiet, sweet story with lushly created digital drawings has a lot to offer readers. A little robot has been tossed out and must learn to fend for himself in the wide world. He befriends a sparrow who helps teach him about the way of things, and the result is a moving, honest portrayal of growing up. It’s a quietly beautiful book, and it’s stayed with me since I finished it.
These were the standouts this week. What picture books have you discovered this week?
These are some of the notable picture books I read and discovered this week:
Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee: On the Hennepin County Library’s list of best books for children this past year, McGhee’s (a Minnesota author) sweet, simple story about a father telling his son the stories behind each of his tattoos is beautifully illustrated by Eliza Wheeler. The prose is simple and sparse, making it a quick read for story time or bedtime, and the last little bit is so sweet that I actually teared up. I really enjoyed this contemporary tale and think it’s a versatile read.
The Storyteller by Evan Turk: Another one that I saw on a best-of list somewhere, this story feels a bit like the 1001 Nights tale, only this time, it’s a boy who listens to a storyteller tell a continuing story each day relating to water during a time of drought. A much longer picture book than the other ones on this list, this is best used for older children who can read on their own (but it would still make for a great read-aloud together!). The illustrations are layered and collage-like, and they’re very vivid and different. There’s lots of good stuff here.
Wake Up, Island by Mary Casanova: The simple prose about the natural things on an island waking up after a night’s sleep is fairly lovely and would work as a title for a science or nature themed storytime or lesson. The book uses painted woodcuts for illustrations, and some of them are absolutely gorgeous, especially when featuring birds taking flight, but others are jarringly weak in comparison.
The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na: By far my favorite discovery of the week, this clever picture book offers readers simple text and absolutely beautiful illustrations. An elephant has discovered a thingamabob, but can’t figure out what it’s for. The series of attempts to discover the use of the thingamabob will delight youngsters and adults alike. It’s a perfect pick for storytime, and I can’t wait to use it for just that purpose.
Monster Trouble by Lane Frederickson: A cute, rhyming book about a girl and the monsters she faces every night at bedtime. The illustrations are bright, vivid, and would lend themselves well to being animated, and the upbeat story deals with scary things without ever veering into the truly frightenting. The silly ending will have kids laughing, and the book is on the whole a total delight.