Tuesday, May 1, 2012

My Top 10 Picture Books of All Time

Of all the top lists I've created this far, this one is the least definitive.  There are so many great picture books out there and I am always discovering new ones.  I've tried to include a variety of topics and illustration styles, but I'll admit right off the bat that I have a particular place in my heart for gorgeous, elegant illustrations.  Both Ruth Sanderson and K.L. Craft are particularly good at this style of illustration.  I had a hard time choosing from among their books, as you can see I am highlighting two of Ruth Sanderson's. So, here we go, in no particular order. All summaries come from Goodreads.

MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS
written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey

It's not easy for duck parents to find a safe place to bring up their ducklings, but during a rest stop in Boston's Public Garden, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard think they just might have found the perfect spot--no foxes or turtles in sight, plenty of peanuts from pleasant passers-by, and the benevolent instincts of a kindly police officer to boot. 

I've loved this story for years, since I first read it as a child.  When I came back to it in a college literature class, I fell in love with it all over again.  I'm not entirely sure what I like about the book so much.  Maybe it's the sense of family, maybe the kindness of the police officer, maybe it's the beautiful setting.  Regardless, this is a book that I love to reread over and over.  Normally I prefer books with bright, colorful illustrations along the lines of Grace Lin's, but I sure love these illustrations.

CROW CALL
written by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Two-time Newbery medalist Lois Lowry has crafted a beautiful picture book about the power of longing and the importance of reconnection between a girl and her father in post-WWII America.

This is the story of young Liz, her father, and their strained relationship. Dad has been away at WWII for longer than she can remember, and they begin their journey of reconnection through a hunting shirt, cherry pie, tender conversation, and the crow call. This allegorical story shows how, like the birds gathering above, the relationship between the girl and her father is graced with the chance to fly.

I love the tender way that the father, who has been away, reconnects with his daughter.  His sensitivity to his daughter's feelings reminds me of my own father.  The illustrations by Ibatoulline are gorgeous.  While the colors are muted, as befits the fall season, the tender expressions on the faces of father and daughter are exquisite and put Ibatoulline on my list of favorite illustrators.

OTIS 
written and illustrated by Loren Long

Otis is a special tractor. He loves his farmer and he loves to work. And he loves the little calf in the next stall, whom he purrs to sleep with his soft motor. In fact, the two become great friends: they play in the fields, leap hay bales, and play ring-around-the-rosy by Mud Pond.
 
But when Otis is replaced with the big yellow tractor, he is cast away behind the barn, unused, unnoticed . . . until the little calf gets stuck in Mud Pond. Then there is only one tractor—and it’s not big or yellow—who can come to the rescue. It is little old Otis who saves his friend. It is Otis who saves the day.

I love Otis. There is not much more to say.  I love to share this book with anyone who will listen. The students I've shared it with have really enjoyed it as well.

HOT ROD HAMSTER
by Cynthia Lord, illustrated by Derek Anderson

From Newbery Honor author Cynthia Lord and NYT bestselling illustrator Derek Anderson comes an INTERACTIVE read-aloud picture book for the very young-featuring an extremely lovable and adorable hams

Old car, new car, shiny painted blue car
Rust car, clean car, itty-bitty green car.
WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE?

Bright colors, catchy phrases, and choices, not to mention hamsters and cars, what more could one want?

GOLDILOCKS
written and illustrated by Ruth Sanderson

Beloved illustrator Ruth Sanderson offers a fresh, heartwarming twist to the classic story. In the new happy ending, Goldilocks makes up for her presumptuous infractions on the Three Bears' household by helping them make muffins with the berries she's picked from the woods near their home. Charming artwork--topped off with a tried-and-true recipe for homemade blueberry muffins--make this new edition of Goldilocks a story time treasure that is just right.
 
There are many versions of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  This one is my favorite, not just because of the gorgeous illustrations, but because Goldilocks actually apologizes and tries to make up for her poor choices.
Plus, the blueberry muffin recipe makes my mouth water.

THE GOLDEN MARE, THE FIREBIRD, AND THE MAGIC RING
written and illustrated by Ruth Sanderson

Alexi, a young huntsman, is helped by a golden mare when he tries to perform the seemingly impossible feats commanded by the Tsar. Will he be able to use his own powers at the end to save himself?


I love everything about this story, characters, plot, setting, gorgeous illustrations.  I want to hop on the back of the horse and ride off into the sunset.  If there is one book I would want to hop into, this would be it, but only if I could have the golden mare.

THE ELVES AND THE SHOEMAKER
written by Jacob Grimm,  illustrated by Jim LaMarche
Here is the classic tale of elfin magic, loved by generations of children and made new by an artist of international acclaim. Jim LaMarche's stunning paintings, reminiscent of his earlier work in The Rainbabies, are the perfect compliment to this favorite Grimm fairy tale.

Here is another folktale of which there are many versions.  This is my favorite.  The elves are adorable for one thing.  For another thing, the elves are clothed, in rags but clothed nonetheless, which makes me more comfortable sharing the book. Plus, Jim LaMarche's illustrations always have a sort of soft dreaminess to them which always pulls me in.  They let me feel that for one moment in time all is right with the world.

THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES 
written by Marianna Mayer, illustrated by K.L. Craft

Mayer brings this beloved classic to life with all the splendor and romance of the story displayed in jewel-like paintings that sweep beautifully across the pages.

I confess that one of the reasons I love this versions of the well-known fairy tale so much is the gorgeous dresses the girls wear.  Yes, I'm one of those girls who loved to dream of going to balls in beautiful dresses and twirling around, the prince was always secondary. :)  I also appreciate the fact that the hero uses his brains and not his brawn.  And yes, I do love the romance. Sigh.  Now I need to come back to earth. This book always gets me daydreaming.

LIN YI'S LANTERN: A MOON FESTIVAL TALE 
by Brenda Williams, illustrated by Benjamin Lacombe

Lin Yi wants nothing more than a red rabbit lantern for the Moon Festival.  But he knows that first he must buy the things his mother needs.  Will he bargain well enough to have money left over for the lantern?  This touching story includes fascinating notes about the legend of the Moon Fairy, Chinese markets, and even step-by-step instructions for creating a paper lantern.

I just read this book last night, but I loved the tenderness of it.  Lin Yi is such an appealing character. He tries so hard to bargain well so that he might have money left for the lantern he wants so much. I felt an immediate kinship with the young boy.  After all, haven't we all wanted something that badly and then been disappointed when we couldn't get it?  The illustrations beautifully show Lin Yi's experiences in the market.  The most powerful illustration is the one that shows Lin Yi's disappointed face when he realizes he doesn't have money left to buy the lantern he wants. A sweet story of love and hard work.


BABY BEAR SEES BLUE
written and illustrated by Ashley Wolff

Explore the world of color with Baby Bear! Baby Bear has so much to learn about the world! From the moment he wakes until it’s time to curl up and go to sleep, he explores outside with his mama. They see green leaves, blue jays, brown trout, and—best of all—a patch of yummy red strawberries.From bestselling picture book creator Ashley Wolff, here is a clever concept book that combines engaging and intricate linocut illustrations with a story that enthusiastically encourages children to identify a variety of vibrant colors. Young readers will delight in this chance to join Baby Bear as he discovers the colorful wonders of his lively, leafy forest home.

This book is just plain beautiful.  I also really like how the mother bear gently teaches her baby about the world around him, but only after he has gone out and done some exploring on his own.  As a teacher, I enjoy how eagerly students are to explore the world around them.  Teaching is not a boring profession.  This book is not only a great teaching book, but a tender exploration of the relationship between a mother and her child.

FALCON
written and illustrated by Tim Jessell

A young boy imagines what it would be like to fly as a falcon and see the world from on high. Soaring through the skies, he describes the sights and sounds of the world below. From snow-capped mountains to lush valleys, over rolling ocean and up rocky cliffs, Falcon will awaken the senses of every reader.

This book took me on a fabulous journey through clouds, past waves and cliffs, and down the side of a large building.  I love the premise of this one.  The idea that one's imagination can take us anywhere is one I fully espouse.  Plus, I've always thought that being able to fly would be a wondrous experience.  Too bad I'm afraid of heights. Oh, well, I can always fly in my imagination.  The panoramas in this book are incredible by the way.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I remember Make Way For Ducklings!! This was one of my daughter's favorites :)

    ReplyDelete

 
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