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Of all the books we have at the library, nothing sucks me in quite as fast as a good picture book. I may be an adult now, but there’s something about the combination of lively artwork and just enough text that turns me into a kid again, eagerly turning the page to see what’s next. So I thought I would share some old favorites and new friends.
One of the best things to do with a picture book, of course, is to read it out loud! If you’re looking to entertain a crowd, why not invite them to partake of “Thelonius Monster’s Sky-High Fly Pie”? A self-described “revolting rhyme” by Judy Sierra with drawings by Edwards Koren, it’s the story of one monster’s plan to cook up the best fly-filled pie you ever did see. There’s just enough lightly disgusting notes to enthrall children, while the toe-tapping flow of the rhyme makes it roll easily off the page. Pair this with scribbly black-and-white illustrations and a really fun use of bright green text, and you’ve got a crowd-pleaser.
Young fashionistas will embrace the heroine of our next book, “Mary Had a Little Glam” by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. In this lace-bedecked spin on the nursery rhyme, fashion-loving Mary is confronted by a roomful of distinctly un-glam classmates on her first day of school. It’s going to take a wardrobe intervention to get this class rocking! The familiar cadence of the rhyming text trips off the tongue, while the bright, catchy illustrations burst exuberantly from the page.
A childhood favorite of mine, “Fritz and the Beautiful Horses” by Jan Brett, is a gentle fable about judging people for their heart, not their appearance. The story is charming, but the highlight of the book is the beautiful artwork: meticulously detailed line drawings of mountain landscapes and prancing horses bedecked in all kinds of finery, all rendered in soft, lush colors.
And speaking of color, a recent arrival at the library also caught my eye for the quality of its color and illustration. In “Yellow Kayak” by Nina Laden, illustrated by Melissa Castrillon, a peaceful rhyming story of a day’s boating is accompanied by stunning stylized illustrations that I would gladly hang on my wall. A limited color palette of teal, pink and yellow is used to great effect; this would be an excellent pick for a shower present to delight both parents and baby.
And to finish up, how about a picture book with hardly any words at all? It’s another old favorite of mine, “Tuesday” by David Wiesner. The author/illustrator won the Caldecott Medal for this ridiculous tale of the magic that happens one Tuesday night when all the frogs and toads suddenly find they are able to fly. Picture by picture, we are led through their misadventures, from chasing dogs to sneaking a late-night movie. The pictures are exuberant and detailed, encouraging a child to tell you his own story about what is happening in each one as you page through the book together.
Genevieve Baillie is the extension services librarian at Wilson County Public Library.