Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Favorite Picture Books of 2013

Favorite Pictures Books I Read In 2013

Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (2012)  Simple words and incredible art combine to form a perfect gem (an emerald, I suppose, to do along with the title).  Enchanting in every way.  A pleasant surprise.

The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Joanthan Bean (2007).  Virginia Lee Burton, Grant Wood, WPA murals - plus a cumulative poem that while new, feels like the birth of a piece of folklore.  I probably loved this so much because I have a fondness for Depression era art; and the color scheme in the book pretty much matched the color scheme for my entire life.

Three Samurai Cats: A Story From Japan by Eric A. Kimmel; illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein (2003).  Richard Scarry meets Richard Chamberlain:  Shogun for the small set, and I still love it.

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems (2012).  He is Shakespeare of Picture Books, the master of smart assery, the bard for cool parents everywhere.  Can he even write a bad book?  Everything I hate about picture books - morals, maudlin, very special problems, the teachable moments - if they are there at all, they are so subtle and spun out that you don't even realize that you may possibly be learning something.    He just writes books that are fun for kids to hear and read, for grown ups to hear and read.  And more power to him.  You'd think Goldilocks would have been done to death, and then Willems comes along and makes it into something new.   And then there is Willems's That Is Not A Good Idea (2013) in which I loved loved loved and then despised fellow Goodreads reviewers of picture books for their utter lameness.  Could some of them be any stupider and robotic about writing about picture books?  He just keeps getting better and better, and I can hardly wait for what's next.

Three books by Jon Klassen:  I Want My Hat Back (2011); This is Not My Hat (2012); Extra Yarn (2012).  Jon Klassen is giving Mo Willems a run for his money.  If I had to rank the three Jon Klassen's I read last year - all in a row too - I think I like Extra Yarn slightly better because the narrative is to good and most awesomely cool.  But the mystery of the missing fish, that little thieving bitch, at the end of This Is Not My Hat is pure genius.  We all know he's fish food, but there is just enough ambiguity left to make your own story about what happened (thus, the squeamish can say "he probably escaped" even though we all know he didn't).  Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

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