Love This Book

I read a lot of picture books. Stacks of them. It's one of the lovely parts of my job. But every once in a while, there will be a book that gets inside my head. I'll find myself pulling it back out of that big stack of books that's going back to the library, not taking it back quite yet. Thinking about it during the day. Going back to look at that one page. Or to read it one more time.

Teacup is that book. Rebecca Young's spare, evocative text and Matt Ottley's beautiful art are perfect partners. A book for anyone who has, like the boy in the book, ever had to leave his home and find another.

Love This Book

Herman and Rosie cover

One of my favorite picture books lately is Gus Gordon's Herman and Rosie. It's a deceptively simple story but so many things work. The art and text are beautifully balanced--each doing what it does best. The characters are fun. And the timing. . . He makes you wait for the resolution. That's hard to do when you only have 32 pages to work with and several of those belong to the publisher. But he does it and then he resolves it in such a gorgeous, quiet, satisfying way.

Picture Book Art

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild cover

I love serendipity. The other day I had a bunch of books home from the library and it happened that Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Journey and Extra Yarn were all in the stack. They're so different from each other but look what Peter Brown, Aaron Becker and Jon Klassen all do with a single color. Or, okay, a single variegated colored yarn in Klassen's case. (And then there's that violet crayon that I didn't notice at first on the dedications page of Becker's book too.) Wow.

Journey cover

Great first lines

Library Lion cover

"One day, a lion came to the library." Don't you just have to keep reading to see what happens? It's the first line of Library Lion.  

I also love the endpapers in that book. And the title page. The story begins before you even hit that great first line. And continues even after those great last lines. 

Other people's bookcases

Yellow Square cover

I always think of other people's bookcases as a kind of personality test. A while ago, I spent a weekend visiting two friends--one a toy designer and one an illustrator and graphic artist. The bookcase in my room was full of pop-up books. Most I had seen before but David Carter's shape books, which I hadn't, were there and they blew my mind. Uncle Theo's trapeze in Yellow Square made my heart happy. And the first page of 600 Black Spots. Beautiful. 

Makes Me Laugh

Owl At Home cover

The ridiculous list of sad things in the Tearwater Tea story in Owl At Home. Every once in a while, my nine-year-old son will walk through the kitchen and, in a melodramatic and tearful voice, will say, "Mashed potatoes left on a plate because no one wanted to eat them" and then he will laugh and laugh. The list has the same effect on me.

Read this book if. . .

What Came From The Stars cover

. . . you want to see a master at work. I almost didn't order What Came From The Stars. It sounded, well, dumb. But is was Gary Schmidt so I put it on the list. When it came and I read the first chapter, I thought, "You are not really going to attempt this, are you?" By the middle of the second chapter, I thought, "Ok, fine, I'm in."

The book worked as well for my eleven and nine-year-old as it did for me. A great read-aloud and my favorite book this year so far.