Monday, August 13, 2018

My Favorite Picture Books

Since I'm working on a picture book right now, I thought I'd share some of my top favorite picture books. I'm going to try to narrow it down to the top ten, and I may forget some, but at any rate, here are the top ten I can think of right now. (And by the way, this was SOOO UNBELIEVABLY HARD. Honorable mentions were a must.)

10. The Dumb Bunnies by Sue Denim, pictures by Dav Pilkey
Once upon a time there were three dumb bunnies who lived in a log cabin made out of bricks. Momma Bunny was really dumb. Poppa Bunny was even dumber. And Baby Bunny was the dumbest bunny of all.
My sisters and I loved this book so much. It's basically the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, but instead of bears, you have three really dumb bunnies. It's totally off the wall ridiculous, but it's awesome. " 'Duh, okay,' said Poppa Bunny."

9. Rumpelstiltskin retold and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
Once there was a poor miller who had a beautiful daughter. On his way to town one day, the miller encountered the king. Wanting to impress him, the miller said, "I have a daughter who knows the art of spinning straw into gold."
This book is the reason "Rumpelstiltskin" is my favorite fairy tale. I'm not really sure why it captured my imagination so, but it did. There's just something about it that's so fascinating. I love it and I want to write a retelling of my own someday.

8. Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
There once lived a penguin. His home was a nice icy land he shared with his companions. His companions were named Goodly, Lovely, Angel, Neatly, and Perfect. His name was Tacky. Tacky was an odd bird.
Tacky is awesome. He's such an odd bird, not at all refined and elegant, but it's his craziness that saves them all from the hunters. I brought it along when I worked at a Classical Conversations Play Camp, and it was seriously heartwarming to hear a little preschool age girl singing "How many toes does a fish have?" as we were getting ready to go out to the playground. I've always loved Tacky.

7. Franklin and the Thunderstorm by Paulette Bourgeois, illustrated by Brenda Clark
Franklin could count by twos and tie his shoes. He could name the months of the year and all the seasons. He could read the thermometer, and he checked the barometer every day. Franklin worried about the weather because he was afraid of storms.
The Franklin books are some of my top favorites ever. They're just so cute and sweet and deal with problems that are so relevant to small children. Like losing your blankie. Or in this one, being afraid of thunderstorms. I especially love it because it explores imaginative explanations for thunder and lightning, and then gives the scientific explanation. It's awesome, and it's Franklin.

6. Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping by Peggy Parish, pictures by Lynn Sweat
"Good," said Mr. Rogers. "It's time to hit the road." "Hit the road?" asked Amelia Bedelia. "All right." She picked up a stick. And Amelia Bedelia hit the road.
Amelia Bedelia basically is me. I've always been quite literal. This is probably the Amelia Bedelia book I remember the best. She pitches the tent into the bushes, cuts the steaks in the shape of a tent, brings the paper bags that are asleep... I love her. And how her talent for making dessert always saves her job.

5. The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
One day the mother called the three little wolves around her and said, "My children, it is time for you to go out into the world. Go and build a house for yourselves. But beware of the big bad pig." "Don't worry, Mother, we will watch out for him," said the three little wolves, and they set off.
Yes, you read that right. Three little wolves, and the big bad pig. It's a fun twist on the "Three Little Pigs" where it's not only a role reversal, but the pig who "wasn't called big and bad for nothing" uses a sledge hammer to demolish the brick house, a pneumatic drill to destroy the concrete house, and dynamite to blow up the barbed wire, iron bar, and armor plated house. It's fun and it's different, and it's awesome.

4. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
In an old house in Paris/that was covered with vines/lived two little girls in two straight lines./In two straight lines they broke their bread/and brushed their teeth/and went to bed.
I got Mad About Madeline: The Complete Tales when I was little and quickly grew to love Madeline. I love the stories, I love the rhyming, I loved the Madeline dollhouse I once got to play with... It's such a classic. A little girl at the library a few years ago told me how she read Madeline and "Fell. In. Love!" It was so cute, and I can totally relate. Madeline is so special.

3. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith
A long time ago, people used to tell magical stories of wonder and enchantment. Those stories were called Fairy Tales. Those stories are not in this book. The stories in this book are almost Fairy Tales. But not quite. The stories in this book are Fairly Stupid Tales. I mean, what else would you call a story like "Goldilocks and the Three Elephants?"
Oh, the Stinky Cheese Man. I have so many memories of this book. The stories are so completely ridiculous, but in a very clever way, and the narration. Like "So stop now. I mean it. Quit reading. Turn the page. If you read this last sentence, it won't tell you anything." And all the book design jokes. Like how "The sky wasn't falling. The Table of Contents was." Moving up the endpaper to try not to wake the giant. I love it. I read this so many times to the kids I used to babysit. It was their absolute favorite. To the point of sulking if I didn't bring it. That only happened once—I wasn't making that mistake again.

2. Duck for President by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Running a farm is very hard work. At the end of each day Farmer Brown is covered from head to toe in hay, horsehair, seeds, sprouts, feathers, filth, mud, muck, and coffee stains. He doesn't smell very good either.
When you grow up involved in politics, Duck for President inevitably becomes one of the best books ever. Duck runs for farmer, wins, Farmer Brown demands a recount. One sticky ballot is found stuck to the bottom of a pig. Duck still wins. But he gets tired of being a farmer and decides to run for governor. And on it goes. So many campaign/political jokes. So many sticky ballots. So many coffee stains. So much awesomeness. "And Duck is working on his autobiography."

1. It's the Bear by Jez Alborough.

Eddie doesn't want to come and picnic in the woods with Mom. "I'm scared," he said, "about the bear, the great big bear that lives in there."
This book is so special to me. It's the first book I memorized as a little bitty kid, and I still can recite the whole thing. Mom has to dash back to get the blueberry pie she forgot, and while she's gone, the bear comes out and eats their picnic...while Eddie "cuddled his teddy, he huddled and hid" in the picnic basket and "a great big bear bottom sat down on the lid." I'm so resisting quoting the whole book right now. It's so cute, it rhymes, and it has somewhat of a complicated vocabulary, using words like "clambered." I was torn when my library discarded it because I could no longer send it home with kids, but hey, I got my own copy and it's library bound! It's the best.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order)
Froggy Learns to Swim by Jonathan London
Diary of a Worm by Doreen Cronin
No Moon, No Milk! by Chris Babcock
Pigsty by Mark Teague
Moon Dance by Frank Asch
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
Eggbert The Slightly Cracked Egg by Tom Ross
Dear Mrs. Larue Letters From Obedience School by Mark Teague
Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
Arthur's Chicken Pox by Marc Brown
Imogene's Antlers by David Small
Franklin's Blanket by Paulette Bourgeois
Mr. Maxwell's Mouse by Frank Asch
The Sweetest Fig by Chris Van Allsburg

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