Friday, November 16, 2012



I love picture books. I love the books for their own sake and not only because I use them when I work with children, I just love them. Unless they are the dumb ones. So, as I begin to highlight some of my favorites, I'm going to warn you now that my personal tastes in picture books lean towards the odd, darkly humorous, silly, bizarre and wacky. But just because these are my favorites doesn't mean I choose them for storytime at the library. Which is not to say that I haven't chosen them, either.

One of my favorite books to look at and to laugh at was introduced to me by my sister-in-law. When I first read the hilarious and slightly disturbing When the Wind Changed (1980), written and illustrated by Australians Ruth Park and Deborah Niland respectively, was a bit too much (read: gruesome) for my then preschooler. But I relish in the twisted, fleshy illustrations and almost avant-gardist absurdity, and find myself laughing out loud no matter how many times I've read it. And the text is composed of understated humor and straight-faced wit, giving the book a word/image combination that produces the best kind of storytelling.

As I read through When the Wind Changed today to write this post, I asked myself why I like it - why it's so funny to me. And I suppose a major part of it is how ugly Josh's face gets. It's funny because it's so uncomfortable to look at, for the other characters in the book, and for the reader. Does that mean I'm also laughing at ugliness in general? Maybe my thoughts are a bit heavy on this topic because I recently read R.J. Palacio's humorous and thoughtful book Wonder (2012), in which the main character was born with and lives everyday with a facial deformity, despite having gone through several facial surgeries. I don't necessarily want to bring up questions of political correctness, sensitivity, and what we should or shouldn't laugh at, but it did make me stop and think. And I decided that it's okay and it's funny and I bet even Auggie would get a kick out of this picture book.

Friday, November 9, 2012


Did you know that November is Picture Book Month? I just learned it. What a great super special and cool thing to have!

There's also a year-long thing going on over at Candlewick's Reading Starts Here site where they are celebrating the picture book with 365 videos, posting a new one each day for a year (they started in August).

I love picture books! Since it seems like the season to celebrate them, I think I'll highlight some of my favorite picture books this month.

And while we're on the topic of how much I like picture books, I found this interesting site to browse called Picturing Books. It covers lots of information about picture books and the things that make up picture books.

And if you just want picture book eye candy, try this pinterest board, which could lead you to a million more amazing illustrations. The thing I love about Pinterest is how it can take you through an unending gallery of awesomeness.

{Images by Brian Wildsmith, whose illustrations I love. They are stunning and colorful. I have four of his books in my personal collection, but not Fishes (top), this beautiful version of A Child's Garden of Verses illustrated by him (middle), or Python's Party (bottom). Wishlist!}