March 10, 2011

My Favorite Picture Book Blogfest

Yikes!  In the rush of morning preparations that precede a school visit, I forgot that today was March 10, the day of Megan Bickel's Favorite Picture Book Blogfest!  As I was second on the list of participants (right after Megan herself!) I really can't let this one slide under the rug.  Besides, as you might have guessed by my blog and the books I write myself, I LOVE picture books :)

I love them so much that picking one is simply impossible.  I will try very hard to confine myself to 3.  But I could probably choose 100 pretty easily!

Someone already mentioned The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf - the hazard of coming late to the party.  That is certainly one of my all time favorites.  But since someone else did it, that one doesn't count for me :)


Bread and Jam for Frances
Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban

I love all the Frances books, but this one is my favorite.  Frances is cute and lovable and so delightfully determined to eat nothing but bread and jam.  I had a picky eater in my house, so I understand both the child's desire to stay with what's known and loved, and the mom's frustration that she won't try something new.  Frances's mom is a wise badger, though, and pretty soon frances comes to realize on her own that food can be delicious even if it isn't at first familiar.  The story, like all of Russell Hoban's writing, has a wonderful rhythm for read-aloud, and the art is simple but engaging.

That's 1.

Mike Mulligan
Next up, a story that would probably never have been published today due to its extensive word count - Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton.  I loved this book as a child, and all of my children, regardless of gender, loved it as well many years later.  I love how Mike refuses to abandon his beloved Mary Anne, how he takes such good care of her that she can still shovel more in a day than a hundred men could dig in a week.  I love the rhythm of the language... "They crawled along slowly up the hills and down the hills till they came to the little town of Popperville..." and "Now the girl who answers the telephone called up the next towns of Bangerville and Bopperville and Kipperville and Kopperville and told them what was happening in Popperville."  And I love the inventive solution that makes everyone happy and still useful.

Third, I would choose The Camel Who Took A Walk by Jack Tworkov, a lovely, quiet story that would never have sold today because it's too quiet, but which again has such a wonderful rhythm to the language that it's a joy to read aloud.  The pictures are very simple, done is shades of blue for the forest before the sun comes up, and then in pink and gold for the beautiful camel, who "turns her pretty head this way and that."  Alas, this one is out of print, but we still love it.

So those are the three I said I would contain myself to, and I'll only quickly mention Make Way for Ducklings, Guess How Much I Love You, Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, Where The Wild Things Are (which was also previously mentioned by another blogger), The Kissing Hand, To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, Madeline, the original Curious George.... OK, I'll stop :)


  1. Better late than never, my friend! I'm so glad you posted though because I was super curious about what you would chose. I love your choices! I've never read the camel one, but I'll put it on my list to find!

    Mike Mulligan was one of those books we never owned but I always picked up when I saw it at the library or a friends house. What a great book!

    Thanks for participating!! Can't wait to hear how the visit went!

  2. The only problem I have with reading lots of great PB recommendations is that not living in an anglophone country means if our school library doesn't have it I am left frustrated!

    Don't you think it is sad that books like Eloise, The Camel Who took a walk, The Steam Shovel... would not have been published today? It makes me think there are some wonderful stories out there we will never read due to present publishing trends.

  3. I really do think it's sad that those books would never be published today. What a loss. Growing up with such stories influenced my own writing in terms of pace and rhythm in that my first instinct is always to write like that, but though editor after editor will praise that kind of writing, none of them will publish anything like that. And honestly, there are a lot of kids today who wouldn't have a hope of sitting through a book as long as Mike Mulligan...

  4. It is sad to say that you have named a couple that I have not read yet. But I bet my son would love to hear them. So they are on our TBR pile. He loves my Nook as much as I do and he loves Barnes & Noble too. He is quite the shopper. Thanks for the post.

  5. Regina - it was a great idea by Megan Bickel, this post. And honestly, I love so many picture books - there are so many more I could have listed! I don't know how old your son is, but mine loved a story called The Giant Jam Sandwich which most people have never heard of!

  6. These sound great, but I too have a problem going to the library with a list. I can never find anything on it. If I just browse and pick whatever I can find some real beauties, but I struggle to pick up recommended ones, hope it's different this time :)

  7. Oh I adore all the Frances books. Those too were some of my favorites. And I never read Mike Mulligan until I had my son. My stepmother keeps a copy of it at her house, and now we read it whenever we visit. Fantastic story.

  8. I LOVED Frances when I was a kid. I don't remember which book it was, but she ran away and camped under the dining room table, which I proceeded to do on a regular basis. It was my favorite place to read the book!

  9. Alison, that one is A BABY SISTER FOR FRANCES - another of my favorites! I also love Bedtime for Frances, when she stands by her father and she's so quiet she's the quietest thing in the room and he wakes up with a start - how many times have my kids done that to me???!!!

  10. I loved the Frances books! I still sing the Jam song when I make PBJ's(as teenage eyes roll in the background).

  11. Anonymous - I always say, "You may be sure there will always be plenty of chocolate cake around here!"


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