One of the nice things about working in an elementary school library (and in the children’s department at a public library) is that I have the opportunity to check out lots of nifty picture books. I tend to go for ones with quirky art and/or a quirky story– bonus points if it takes place in a library!
Here’s some quick reviews of about half of the picture books I read in December.
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Btw, if you click on a book cover it should embiggen!
Home for Christmas – Jan Brett ★★
A troll kid runs away from home, spends a year wandering and getting into scrapes, and finally makes it back home right before Christmas. The best thing about JB’s books is definitely the level of detail in her artwork; she’s known for doing these amazing borders where you get a glimpse of what’s happening outside of the main story, and it’s super fun trying to spot everything.
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub – Audrey Wood, ill. Dan Wood ★★★½
Wonderful, whimsical story about a king who refuses to get out of the bath and how his courtiers just cannot deal. Reminds me of a gentle Monty Python sketch, with elaborate artwork.
Warning: Do Not Open This Book – Adam Lehrhaupt, ill. Matthew Forsythe ★★★★½
Massively cute book about the dangers of ignoring instructions and continuing to turn book pages even when monkeys show up. Love the interaction between the narrator and the reader, and the art is really vibrant and fun.
The Cat Who Wouldn’t Come Inside – Cynthia von Buhler ★★
Somewhat repetitious story about a cat who refuses to come inside and the kind-hearted woman who tries to bribe him inwards, to no avail. The art is all clay figures and knick-knacks! (I swear I had a set of books when I was a kid which had all clay figure art in it, and it was wondrous.) This one had massive gold borders which detracted from the art, which is unfortunate.
Wombat Walkabout – Carol Diggory Shields, ill. Sophie Blackall ★★★
A wombat family goes out for a walk and is stalked by a dingo. Loved the rhyming and the adorable wombat characters. Would be fun to read with a class during a geography unit, since it’s got lots of neat Australian words and landscapes.
Help! We Need a Title! – Hervé Tullet ★★★★★
This is a super fun book about a group of characters who live in an unfinished book. The artwork is messy and vibrant and looks deliberately like an early draft of a picture book, with scribbles and notes in the margins about possible changes. The characters talk directly to the reader, inviting interaction and engagement. The author even shows up at the end represented by actual photographs. I loved it!
Cheese Belongs to You – Alexis Deacon, ill. Viviane Schwarz ★★
If you ever had a question of rat politics re:cheese and ownership thereof, this book is for you. Very interesting art: the rats are a scribbly red color amongst a mostly white background. It’s somewhat minimalist and helps makes it easy to follow the story. The text and art have a lot of movement to them; it’s a very exciting book and would be fun to read during storytime (perhaps with an amusing accent).
The Library Dragon – Carmen Agra Deedy, ill. Michael P. White ★★★½
A stingy dragon librarian learns about sharing the library, and children sneakily learn about how to care for library books, library manners, etc. I can see why it’s a staple for library storytimes as it’s entertaining and educational at the same time; on the other hand, I don’t like the art at all (though it IS very colorful).