Picture Books, round one

Last week I asked for recommendations for picture books with excellent writing (read: non-annoying when read aloud 2,763 times per day, every day). I started by asking about the Caldecott (which is an award for picture books, but actually for illustration of said picture books). And then just for recommendations. And they rolled in.

I had a couple being pulled for me at the library, so I had to go pick them up. While I was there, I browsed, with my head full of titles and authors I’d been hearing about (and looking up) all week. I came home with a big stack, and we’ve been reading them all weekend. Here’s the low down.

Freight Train by Donald Crews (author and illustrator) (Caldecott honor book)
A good transitional book, on the way up from board books. Very few words. Nice graphic illustrations. Bold colors. Although it’s been eclipsed the past two days by the newest train book to enter the house (which I’ll hopefully get around to telling you about reasonably soon).

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney (author and illustrator)
I picked this one up because A’s already familiar with this character from a few board books. I think we’ve only read it once so far.

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems (author and illustrator) (Caldecott honor book)
I’ve heard so many great things about Willems’s books. This one for sure didn’t disappoint. Again, very few words. Images are black and white photographs overlaid with cartoonish people. My guy laughs at the baby talk [not someone talking to a baby in what is usually called baby talk, but the verbalizations of a pre-talking kiddo].

We Are in a Book!, an Elephant and Piggie book, by Mo Willems (author and illustrator)
I laughed and laughed on the first read-through. A very self-aware book. The illustrations are straightforward and clear. I think it might (the humor at least) be a bit over my kiddo’s head, though.

The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
The rhyme and rhythm are fantastic, the story is grand. More words per page than A’s used to, but he’s bringing it to me repeatedly. Really a beautiful book. So much to see on every page, too.

Clifford’s First Snow Day by Norman Bridwell
Not annoying, but not particularly enchanting to this mama or toddler, either. I don’t think, when we’ve read this one, that A has ever asked to read it again right away once yet.

The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett (author and illustrator) (This my library had in both board book and picture book format)
Lots of people highly recommended Jan Brett’s books. I’m not sure I understand the fandom, though (at least not yet). This is the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, except Goldilocks is now Aloo-ki, who lives in an igloo, and the bears are now polar bears.

A Good Day by Kevin Henkes (author and illustrator)
Quite simplistic. A likes the squirrel and the dog, though. One of those books that don’t have much of a plot. Very few words per page, and a short page count, too. Not annoying, though.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Caldecott honor book)
Enchanting. The narrative doesn’t have the rhyme and meter some of the others do, but the story is sweet and illustrations are adorable (especially if you’re a yarn lover, but even if you’re not).

So, the winners this round are:

  • Freight Train (although it’s a bit dull and repetitive for me)
  • Knuffle Bunny
  • The Snail and the Whale (a bit longer, though)
  • Extra Yarn

Have you read any of these? What did you think? Do you have any (more) recommendations for us?

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14 responses to “Picture Books, round one

  1. I love the Donald Crews books. They are simple but you can get many lessons (sorry, teacher) out of them. Ten Black Dots, Airplane, and Truck are also good. The three year old still enjoys them.

    I also like the Jan Brett books for the same reason. We read lots of fairytales and having different versions were always fun. Her illustrations are beautiful.

    E loves her Berenstein Bear books and Dr Seuss books.

  2. Yeah. I have read books to kids over the years and oh my god, the, well, crap… I have a terrible time and don’t get the appeal at all. I hope you continue to find stuff that works for both of you. :)

  3. All my favorite kidlit authors on one page :) Makes me happy :) We loed reading all of these over and over again… The little is reading chapter books, but CANNOT stop reading her fav elephant and piggie books yet!!
    -Reshama @ Stackingbooks

  4. What a great list of books. I have had “Extra Yarn” on my list to find and read and now I really must search it out. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Henkes has some really great books; Brett’s are really best for the illustrations – they are so detailed.

  6. I’m going to go request some of these from my library. We’re still stuck on I Met a Moose in Maine One Day. That and the Llama Llama board books are the only once E ever asks for.

  7. I haven’t read any of these books, but they all sound good. I will have to look for them for my daughter (and myself).

  8. Yes, FREIGHT TRAIN is a great choice. We also are Jan Brett fans. I love the pictures and the animals cute expressions!

  9. What a great list! Thanks for sharing it at Booknificent Thursday! I’m trying to think of ones I’d recommend. Off the top of my head, Tomie dePaola’s Cookie’s Week comes to mind as well as Dandi Daley MacCall’s Little Blessings series of board books. I’m asked to read all the If You Give a Mouse/Pig/Moose… books repeatedly and we have a lot of fun with those. What I’ve read the most though is probably the Little House on the Prairie picture books. My girls adore them and read and read and re-read them, alone, to each other, and whenever we’re available.

    Also, I’ve never been a big Jan Brett fan (sorry, world) and I don’t particularly like that Kevin Henkes book you mentioned. But, we adore all of his mouse books. We read about Chrysanthemum, Owen, and Sheila Rae over and over again.

    • Thanks for the recs, Tina! I wondered if it was just that Henkes book; I picked up his Old Bear this week, but I haven’t read it yet. Glad I’m not alone on not feeling the Brett love.

  10. I love picture books… I see them on the blogs and just sigh… so beautiful!

  11. Jan Brett is really known for her illustrations…and you can like her on FB and she posts free illustrations for kids to color, etc. Her best known books are The Hat and The Mitten, which are fun books…the edges of her pages give a preview of what is to come….I like her Troll books also….Kevin Henkes most famous is probably Chrysanthemum, which is a great story of acceptance and self-esteem….(I teach 2cd grade)….I also love Patricia Polacco’s books, but her stories can be intense, really for children a bit older….Pink and Say, The Keeping Quilt, An Orange for Frankie, Thundercake is a great book for kids afraid of thunderstorms..and there is a recipe included…most of her books are family stories passed down…Eve Bunting is another favorite….but lots of issue picture books, homelessness, loss, etc…Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a great book, Bill Martin books are just fun…Judith Viorst Alexander books are fun….and I have a soft spot for Tomie dePaola as he was born and raised in CT and I’ve met him…

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