My children, now 12 and 10, have been library power users since birth. I decided to write a post about our very favorite picture books, the ones that they requested over and over. When I perused this section in the Children’s Department at CLP-Main, it was like taking a trip down memory lane. Each of these books was like a friend. I wanted to hug them. They reminded me what my children were like when they were very young more than any photo.
I have noticed some themes and similarities in our favorites:
- trying new things or going on an adventure, being fearful, then returning to your comforting home and mother
- amusing mischief-making
- visually rich and detailed illustrations, sometimes presenting the reader with a puzzle to solve
Some are all of these things put together; mischief, mystery and fantasy.
I can’t bear to pare this longish list down any further, so I will just say a few words about what we loved about each one.
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell. An owl mother goes out to get food for her babies, but when she is gone they start to worry. The pictures are endearing. My children liked to take turns saying the lines of the different owls. They would fight over who got to be Bill.
Hondo and Fabian by Peter McCarty. Hondo the dog has an adventure, while Fabian the cat stays home with the baby. The parallels in the events of the day for each pet highlight the differences between cats and dogs. The soft focus on the cute animals and the pearly paper make this book a tactical experience as well as a visual delight.
All of the Charlie and Lola books by Lauren Child. The patient older brother watches out for his imaginative younger sister. Lola’s speech patterns are quirky and memorable. Our family adopted some of her turns of phrase into our personal lexicon, like calling something “my favorite and my best,” or saying something is “easy peazy lemon squeezy.”
Kitten Red, Yellow, Blue by Peter Catalanotto. Sophia’s 16 kittens get adopted by neighbors, each one helps out with a different job and gets a different colored collar. My kids liked to point out what made each picture amusing. All the kittens come back to visit Sophia in the end, giving her kisses. My kids would reenact this with me. Sigh.
M is for Mischief : an A to Z of Naughty Children by Linda Ashman. This book is simply brilliant. Each letter of the alphabet gets a clever and alliterative rhyming verse about a naughty child like Untidy Ursula or Rude Ruby. The illustrations are extremely funny. This was a huge hit with the kids. They would love to take turns reading the verses themselves.
Museum Trip by Barbara Lehman. A wordless book about a boy who goes on a field trip to the museum, but gets lost. He then goes on a special adventure into a secret room where he is able to leap into pictures and go through increasingly difficult mazes. The art works in the museum are famous, and I had fun telling my kids about each one.
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon. One of our very favorites. Mother bat, who is holding Stellaluna, is attacked by an owl. Stellaluna falls into a birds nest. The book shows the similarities and differences between the bat and the baby birds, all the while in smaller illustrations at the top, Mother is looking for Stellaluna. Mother Bird’s reaction to her babies who try hanging upside down is memorable.
One Dark Night by H. J. Hutchins. I was never able to get through this sweet book without a catch in my throat. A boy helps a stray cat and her kittens by giving them shelter in an intense storm. The writing is lyrical and poetic.
New Cat by Yangsook Choi. This story is about a Korean immigrant who opens a tofu factory in NYC, and his best friend named New Cat. New Cat takes her mouse catching job very seriously, and accidentally saves the factory.