Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pick Your Picture Books

Talking about picture books (two days ago.  Yesterday I talked about zombies) reminded me that I wanted to post a link to my husband's list of top ten picture books.  Sergio Ruzzier asked a whole bunch of picture book peeps for their top tens, and Matt's happened to be the very first list posted (that's probably because Matt's so on top of things.  Except vacuuming.  I kid!  Not really.  Love you, Honey!).  It got me thinking about what my top ten would be.  A very difficult list to make because of my multiple book personalities: Julie as a child, who enjoyed picture books; Julie as a librarian, who read many picture books aloud to her students; Julie as an author; and my newest book life, as a mom who reads at least ten picture books a day to her two-year-old daughter.  How do I choose?  Do I go for nostalgia?  For the best read-alouds?  For my favorite reads with Romy?  Tough call.  The list that follows is by no means a final edition.  I chose these ten books because they have been with me through some, if not all, of my book incarnations.  The second I publish this post, I'll think of another title and regret not including it, but so is the drama of the list.  Not in any particular order:
  1. Mouse Tales by Arnold Lobel - This is my all time favorite book.  Of any and all genres.  Lobel was a master of art and story and sadness and joy.  "And what nice, new feet you have."  Best line ever.
  2. Madeleine by Ludwig Bemelmans - I loved this as a child and asked my mom to recite the final page to me when she closed my door ("Good night little girls.  Thank the Lord you are well.  Now go to sleep...").  Now that I read it to Romy, I realize how brilliant the artwork is.  And so you know, I recite that same page to Romy every night when I put her to sleep.
  3. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina - Such a clever story!  Such funky pictures!  Makes me want to speak in a funny accent.  A really fun read-aloud.
  4. The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant - I could not be more of a fan of Stephen Gammel and his illustrations for the Scary Stories books by Alvin Scwartz.  But this book has such a different and cozy feel.  I love this family and all their togetherness.  I'm so sad every time they have to leave.
  5. The Snowy Day  by Ezra Jack Keats - This was an obvious influence on my book, Toby and the Snowflakes.  My love for snow and snow books meld together into perfection The Snowy Day.  I'm sure you know that already.
  6. The Amazing Bone or Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig -  I don't know.  I couldn't decide.  These are both my favorites.  Pearl vs. Sylvester?  I don't think so.  I cried when I saw an exhibit of the original artwork at The Jewish Museum in New York.
  7. The Blanket by John Burningham - A tiny book about looking for your lost blankey.  Done with subtlety and sweetness, a zillion times better than any modern picture book on the subject.  And yes, I had (okay, still have) a blankey.
  8. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arelene Mosel - I loved saying his name over and over again.  Still do.  The adult characters are kind of mean, kind of funny, but still obviously care.  And what kid doesn't want to eat rice cakes after reading this?
  9. The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone - This book is hysterical and beyond clever.  I think some very popular picture books of recent years completely ripped off this idea.  That's all I'm saying.
  10. Portly McSwine by James Marshall -  James Marshall is the master of fat animals.  How is this book out of print?!  What kid can't relate to the story of a worry-wart pig who has to throw a party?  The ending kills every time.  When I was little, my aunt and I did a puppet show version of this at one of my birthday parties.  Someone needs to reprint this NOW!
Well, damn, that was tough.  I am absolutely certain you will read another post from me very soon with my *oops!* missed titles.  
    And of course, now it's your turn.  Give me a top ten.  Or a top five.  Or your all-time fave.  Go on.  I triple-dog dare ya.


    Heather said...

    I have about half of those. I picked them up along the way for my kids because I enjoyed them as a kid. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton are two of my favorites.

    Brian James said...

    Great list.

    I too am a HUGE Stephen Gammel fan and have "Is That You Winter" on my desk for a future Picture Book of the Week pick. Ezra Jack is another favorite of mine, as is Madeline of course.

    For some reason, I could never get into Caps for Sale, or William Steig or James Marshall. But I do love me The Monster At the End of This Book.

    (p.s. sorry for the delay, I'm a few days behind in my reading)

    nico said...

    My number one is "A Chair for My Mother" by Vera B. Williams. This was my mom's favorite book to read out-loud and she always cried at the same spot (which now I can't get through without doing the same). I also love "Eloise"-- I grew up wanting to live in the Plaza and have a Turtle on a leash. I also had a big crush on the babysitter in Shirley Hughes' "George the Babysitter," so that's going on this list too.

    GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

    Oh my gosh, The Monster at the end of this book is one of my all time favorites-ever! Such a great book and I still get a huge kick out of it. I also adore Caps for Sale-so much fun and it makes a great read aloud (that's my librarian self talking).

    I just read A Sick Day for Amos McGee and it made me get all teary and my husband laughed at me. I walked around the house hugging the book-I loved it that much. So I would say that's a new favorite!

    Julie H said...

    Glad to see some comments on this one! Seems a lot of people are behind in blog reading. Mmm Hmmm. Nico, I have never actually read Eloise! Sarah, I'll look into A Sick Day. Brian, glad to share the Gammel love!

    Brian James said...

    You've never read Eloise!

    It's easily in my top 10. Eloise is one of those core characters that I always refer back to in my younger writing.