Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Rest of the Must-Read Picture Books

In my February 13 post I listed 40 of the 100 best picture books recommended in 2008 by the New York Public Library System. Here are the final 60:

41. John Henry by Julius Lester

42. Julius by Angela Johnson

43. Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

44. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes

45. The Line-Up Book by Russo Marisabina

46. The Little Red Hen: An Old Story retold by Margot Zemach

47. Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story From China by Ed Young.

48. Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Waber

49. Mabela the Clever by Margaret Read MacDonald

50. Machines At Work by Byron Barton

51. Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

52. Maisy Goes Swimming by Lucy Cousins

53. Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

54. Mama Cat Has Three Kittens by Denise Fleming

55. The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

56. Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh

57. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia L. Burton

58. Millions Of Cats by Wanda Gag

59. Miss Nelson Is Missing by Harry Allard and James Marshall

60. Mr. Gumpy’s Outing by John Birmingham

61. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale retold by John Steptoe

62. Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming

63. My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann

64. The Napping House by Audrey Wood

65. No, David! by David Shannon

66. Off to School, Baby Duck! by Amy Hest

67. Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth

68. Olivia by Ian Falconer

69. Owen by Kevin Henkes

70. Papa, Please Get The Moon For Me by Eric Carle

71. Pierre: A Cautionary Tale by Maurice Sendak

72. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

73. Puss In Boots by Charles Perrault

74. The Random House Book Of Mother Goose: A Treasury Of 386 Timeless Nursery Rhymes by Arnold Lobel

75. Round Trip by Ann Jonas

76. Rumpelstiltskin by Paul O. Zelinskey

77. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

78. Spots, Feathers and Curly Tails by Nancy Tafuri

79. The Story Of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

80. The Stray Dog by Simont Marc

81. Strega Nona by Tomie De Paola

82. Swimmy by Leo Lionni

83. Sylvester And The Magic Pebble by William Steig

84. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter

85. Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

86. Ten, Nine, Eight by Molly Bang

87. There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly by Simms Taback

88. The Three Bears by Paul Galdone

89. Trashy Town by Andrea Griffing Zimmerman

90. The True Story Of The Three Little Pigs By A. Wolf by John Scieszka

91. Tuesday by David Wiesner

92. Uptown by Collier Bryan

93. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

94. The Wheels On The Bus by Paul O. Zelinsky

95. Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

96. Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill

97. Whistle For Willie by Jack Ezra Keats

98. The Wolf’s Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza

99. Yoko by Rosemary Wells

100. Zomo The Rabbit: A Trickster Tale From West Africa retold by Gerald McDermott. D

Did you notice the mix of classics and newer books? This list of 100 should help to give us a well-rounded idea of what children love to read. Happy reading, picture book writers!



A Few of My Favorite Things

Last time I talked about my kids’ treasured picture books.  Today I’m presenting a short list of my more contemporary favorites and the reasons why I like them.


Flower Garden—Eve Bunting has written many picture books, but this is, I believe, her best and it’s my favorite picture book.  The bright, charming illustrations by Kathryn Hewitt blend perfectly with the sparse text, creating the perfect book in this genre.  And, it’s a great example of how, with care, a picture book can be done in rhyme!


If you Give a Mouse a Cookie—the first in Laura Joffe Numeroff’s delightful “If you Give…” series with inspired illustrations by Felicia Bond.  They are terrific examples of the “full circle” picture book.


Rotten Ralph—This series contains the first books one of my grand-daughters learned to read.  The wacky cat created by Jack Gantos and brought to life by Nicole Rubel (he’s red!…and constantly creates turmoil for all around him) never fails to captivate.


The Paper Dragon—Marguerite W. Davol’s wonderful Chinese folk tale is illustrated by Robert Sabuda in the manner of the Chinese narrative scrollmaker’s art.  It contains many beautiful fold-outs.


The Holy Twins—Tomie de Paola has written and illustrated many different kinds of picture books, but for this story of medieval saints Benedict and Scholastica, noted writer Kathleen Norris provided the text and de Paola the illustrations.  Both are wonderful, and I love everything about this book.  I even did a review of it for a leading Catholic magazine!


Linnea in Monet’s Garden—-Writer Christina Bjork and illustrator Lean Anderson introduce readers, in a most captivating way, to the world of fine art, especially Impressionism.   I wish I had another daughter so I could name her Linnea!


D is for Drinking Gourd—-This, of course, is written by our own Nancy Sanders and illustrated by E.B. Lewis, and is a great example of a beautiful, informative, and diverse picture book.  Nancy has boiled down all of her research and scholarship into nuggets that young readers will enjoy and remember.


Contributed by Marjorie Flathers

Book in a Month Recap

Nancy Sanders challenged everyone in last Monday’s post to join her “Book in a Month” Club, where you write a book in the month of March. I highly recommend this writing exercise because it was this very challenge in 2007 that led to my contract with Pelican Publishing Company for my non-fiction picture book that will be out in the Spring of 2010.

Give it a try. You never know how 31 days of work can bless your writing career!

Contributed by Catherine L. Osornio

Too Many Visitors for One Little House


This past summer I had the opportunity to illustrate my first picture book, Too Many Visitors for One Little House, written by Susan Chodakiewitz.


The story takes place on El Camino Street, where the crabby neighbors do not like kids, do not like pets, and do not like big happy families. When a new family on the block moves in — a mom, a dad, three kids and a fish, the neighbors are NOT very happy.  And as cousins, aunts, uncles, nannies and grannies arrive for a big family reunion, the neighbors are in for quite a surprise.


Working on this project with Susan was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the many hours we spent fleshing out the personalities and visual traits of the characters. It was a joy creating each one and I feel like they’re now a part of my own family. The challenge and process were a great experience for me and I look forward to the next project.


Here are illustrations from the book. Enjoy!


contributed by Veronica Walsh, children’s book illustrator


Why Picture Books?

Why would anyone want to write a picture book?

Picture books are usually the child’s introduction into the the world of books. What an honor it would be to write a picture book that would be the catalyst for a life long love of reading and learning.

Words and pictures meld together to draw a child into new and exciting worlds. Their imaginations can soar. A child can be anything, do anything, go anywhere as they sit and listen to a picture book being read.

Books can bond reader and child. How many times I have delighted in reading, first to my children, and now my grandchildren. Wonderful experiences! I would be thrilled if a picture book I had written strengthened the bond between children and their parents or grandparents.

As you consider writing a picture book, think of all the wonderful results that can come from those 28 pages. Who knows. Perhaps a child could read your book and it would develop in them a hunger for the written word. As a result, he/she would decide to become a writer, too!

Thankful for picture books and picture book writers, Gloria

Great Stories and Pictures

Alas! I don’t have the treasury of delightful picture books remembered from my childhood. No one took me to the library as a preschooler, or gifted me with any. I remember sneaking up to my brothers’ room in the attic (6 of us in my grandmother’s 2-bedroom house) and pulling out their children’s encyclopedia to look at the pictures. How I longed to be able to know what those black marks said on the white paper to explain the pictures! I must have bugged my mother about it because when I was 4-5 she explained about phonics and I taught myself to read. No books yet until I went to school, then, bingo! I was hooked for life. I devoured every book in the schoolroom, which in those days, wasn’t much. When finally allowed to walk by myself to the county library, I sat for hours at the itty bitty table on the itty bitty chair just right for me, until it was getting late, then checked out as many books as they allowed me to take home. I must confess, with apologies to illustrators, that once I could read, the pictures held little interest for me. I preferred making the pictures in my head of what I read. The story—that was the thing.

Now I appreciate the work and the importance of the illustrations for picture books. I know more than one non-writer adult who makes a collection of favorite picture books because of the beauty or charm or hilarity of the illustrations.

I may never make a sale of a picture book, but I’m so glad so many of you do, of great stories and pictures.

-Contributed by Shirley

From Start to Finish

How would you like to write a picture book from start to finish in just one month? On my blog last March, I showed the step-by-step journey I took to write a picture book for the Book in A Month Club that I sponsor on my blog.

If you’re up to the challenge–and fun!–just visit my website, Blogzone, and follow the links to read the posts for March 2008’s Book in A Month Club.

I pray God will give you ideas, strengthen you to the task, and provide you with the enthusiasm to actually sit down and write a brand new picture book from start to finish.

Most of all, enjoy the journey!

-Contributed by Nancy I. Sanders