Author: Tracey Corderoy
Illustrator: Steven Lenton
Publisher: Nosy Crow
Purchased: A UK Store Somewhere…
Why: A colleague was coming in from London and I asked her to pick up a few books that either weren’t available in the US or were only available in hardback. Living in NYC is tough enough, space-wise. When possible I like to get paperback picture books simply because they take up less space and are easier to bring along. I liked the description of this book online so I had her add it to the list.
Pros: Great rhyming – and it’s easy to read rhyme. I occasionally find that even when stories are well rhymed they are difficult to read out loud. Not this one. The main characters – a pair of n’er do well robber dogs – hatch a plan to rob their neighbors (or, neighbours – as I have the British version) – but when they’re caught in the act they discover an alternate career that’s even better. The illustrations are fun, and make good use of contrasting light and dark since some of the scenes take place at night.
Funny story: When a story is originally published in the UK, I much prefer getting that version over the American version. For starters, the text is original – no changing words due to different meanings across the English language. I like that because it broadens one’s knowledge about vocabulary. And the Queen’s English also uses words that we just don’t use all that often over here – like “queue” for line. If my son grows up knowing what that means because of this book, well, he’ll be a step ahead of where I was when I went to study abroad in London at 23!
Also – Of all of our picture books, this is my husband’s absolute favorite. And our sitter’s. So two of the three adults reading picture books in our household chose this one as their favorite. That’s pretty impressive. (And, while it’s not my favorite – Nugget and Fang has that distinction – this is right up there as one of the best.) Strongly recommend you get yourself a copy of this one!
Durability: 4 bite marks. For a paperback this is holding up really well. I’d give it 5 but I’m not sure if I could give any paperback 5 bite marks!
Author: Tammi Sauer
Illustrator: Michael Slack
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Why: I think I read about this book on a blog somewhere. It was definitely an online recommendation.
Pros: This is one of my absolute favorite picture books. I literally can’t say enough good things about it. The writing is brilliant and the illustrations are such a perfect compliment to the text that’s it’s hard to believe it wasn’t one person doing both. It is colorful and fun with a great message about friendship. Buy this book now. Seriously, if you don’t have it, do yourself a favor, you won’t regret it. I’m including one of the humorous illustrations just to give you a taste of how good this book is.
Funny Story: No joke, I laughed out loud when I read this for the first time. That’s saying a lot.
Durability: 4 bite marks. It’s holding up really well, especially for how much we read it.
Author: Lisa McCourt
Illustrator: Cyd Moore
Purchased: TJ Maxx
Why: My sister had this book for her son (who is five months older than my son) so I was familiar with it and I liked the message.
Pros: Positive message – a parent loves their child no matter what (animal) they become and will always be there for them. Fun illustrations as well. (On a somewhat random note, I love how the mother & son’s hair is a reddish blonde color – but when you look closely you can see every color woven in there, even blue – it’s a small thing to note but I look at it every time and marvel at that kind of mastery of color.)
Funny Story: My husband was reading “Runaway Bunny” to our son one day and said — “Hey, this book is really like ‘I Love You, Stinky Face,’ to which I had to respond that in fact “Runaway Bunny” was the original book as far as the comparison went. He was stunned and I just laughed.
Durability: 2 bite marks, as evidenced by the corner damage. I would have given it one bite mark but since it was purchased at TJ Maxx it may have been a bit damaged when I got it – I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.
Author: Julia Donaldson
Illustrator: Axel Scheffler
Publisher: Alison Green Books
Why: Well here is a fun story – back in my carefree, childless days, my husband and I used to travel quite a bit. On one such trip we found ourselves at Harrods in London, up in the book section. I had somehow never stumbled upon this section on previous trips to the store. In any case, we had recently been talking about trying to start a family and I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to buy a book for the child we would one day hopefully have. So this is the very first book we ever bought for our son and it holds a special place in my heart for that reason.
Pros: What’s NOT to like here? Wonderful rhyme, beautifully intricate illustrations, a hidden Gruffalo for fans to find, and a message about pursuing what you love no matter what you’re supposed to do.
Funny Note: The US version of the book is called “A Gold Star for Zog” while the British version is simply “Zog”. Since that’s the version we have, I’m sticking with the title we know.
Ps. Get used to Julia Donaldson around here. You’re going to see a LOT of her!
Durability: 3 bite marks. For a paperback this has gone through quite a lot with little wear to show for it. My son did manage to rip one page (see the picture) but it’s been a few months since he made that tear and it hasn’t gotten any worse so that’s a plus.
Author: Michaela Muntean
Illustrator: David Prebenna
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Purchased: HEB (www.heb.com)
Why: Total impromptu purchase. Absolutely no other reason!
Pros: It’s Elmo – you can’t really beat that. Our son doesn’t even watch TV yet (he’s one – I may have failed to mention that before) and he is already obsessed with Elmo. There are fun words to say here that are really engaging – like the page that reads “pickle, pizza, pumpkin, popcorn. pop-pop-pop-popcorn.” You can really emphasize those “p” sounds when you read it aloud and that’s great for kids. The illustrations are bright and fun and it’s an easy-to-carry smaller board book.
Funny Note: I’m not sure if a mud puddle would feel as good as Elmo and Zoe seem to think (“Squishy-squashy mud feels great!”). Do kids love sitting in mud? Is this something I’ll totally get in about three years?
Durability: Sadly, 2 bite marks. While this isn’t the worst we’ve seen, this one has definitely taken some hits as evidenced by the picture. I guess its yummy because my son just keeps chewing on it!
Author: Liza Baker
Illustrator: David McPhail
Purchased at: FAO Schwarz
Why: It was close to Valentine’s Day and I thought a fun little book about love would be a cute addition to our library. Plus it rhymes and I’m a sucker for rhymes.
Pros: cute little place inside front cover to fill out “This book belongs to:_______”; endearing message – no matter what, mom loves you because you’re you!
Funny Note: When my husband read this for the first time he asked why the mother is dressed like she is on Star Trek. Ever since he made that comment I can’t shake that image, even though I never would have made that connection had he not mentioned it.
Durability: 5 bite marks! This is one tough book. It’s kind of puffy and my son hasn’t made a dent. Can we have more books bound this way please?
My name is Lauren. When I was pregnant with my son, I hoped beyond measure that he would love to read when he got older. I did not expect that this hope would manifest in a baby obsessed with reading. In other words, I may have created a monster. My son is obsessed with reading. He will chase me holding books that he wants to me to read. He will sit in my lap for an hour or more just wanting to read. He will go through his book bin with intense purpose, searching for the book that he wants to read – and will throw the others halfway across the room lest we get confused and read him the wrong book.
Needless to say, I have rediscovered the magic of picture books. I live them, I breathe them, I want to write them. Actually, I am writing them. I want to publish them.
So here we are. That’s a little bit about me. I’ll share more along the way. In the meantime, let’s look at some picture books!
Most (not all) of the picture books we currently own