Picture Books

Pssst! by Adam Rex

Pssst! by Adam Rex

"Pssst!" is what a young girl at the zoo hears as she walks by each animal enclosure. They all want her to bring them increasingly outrageous and seemingly random items.

Sure, the gorilla's swing is broken, so a new tire does not seem that out of the question. And maybe bicycle helmets would be a good investment for a slipping sloth. But the turkeys don't want to eat the corn they ask for— they want to turn it into ethanol. Our young heroine is going to have a hard time meeting all of these demands.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Dr. Seuss

The library is having a party and everyone is invited!  More than two decades after his death, Dr. Seuss’ March birthday has become an annual, nationwide celebration for libraries and schools, and we are joining the fun!  After all, it’s only fitting that one of the most beloved children’s book authors receives such recognition.  His books are an intrinsic part of American cultural knowledge and span the generations with the first, “And To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street,” published in 1937 to the last, “Oh, the Place You Will Go” in 1991, and include over 60 titles.  I bet most Americans even know many of his most memorable lines by heart.  While I could write an entire column about my favorites (“Green, Eggs and Ham,” “The Lorax,” and anything with Horton,) part of what I find so fascinating about Dr. Seuss is Theodor Geisel, the man behind the legend.      

Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon

Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon

Theodora is an Odd Duck, but she doesn't realize it yet. She does all the normal chores that ducks do: swimming; buying mango salsa; and checking out library books. She knows what she wants in life, preferring to stay home in the winter with a nice cup of tea while all of the other ducks fly south.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

The Day the Crayons Quit is a most imaginative book in terms of its story and its artwork. One day while looking in his crayon box, Duncan finds a stack of scrawled messages instead of crayons.

One by one we read each color's reason for going on strike, written in its color. Red feels totally overworked. Purple is tired of contributing to messy pictures. Yellow and Orange cannot agree on who deserves to be the color of the sun. This is a young artist's worst nightmare.

Mysterious Traveler by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, illustrated by P.J. Lynch

Mysterious Traveler by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, illustrated by P.J. Lynch

No one knows the Sahara Desert like Issa. He is a famous guide along the dangerous paths the gold and salt caravans take to their far destinations. Everyone knows to ask for his help. But one day five riders with six camels come bounding through the village with a desert storm quick on their heels. They do not stop to ask for Izza's help. They gallop on, with the sixth camel carrying a basket with its tiny burden. In Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham’s The Mysterious Traveler, Issa watches them ride out of sight not knowing that the scrap of ribbon they leave behind will change his future.

In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Tricia Tusa

In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Tricia Tusa

It’s bedtime, but Alice is bouncing and wide-awake. “Time for bed,” Mama says, “and I’ve brought flowers for your room.”

“I can only sleep in a blue room,” says Alice.

“Blue is my favorite.

and those—

aren’t—

blue.”

“Ah … but smell,” Mama says.

Mama brings many special things to help her little girl sleep: a silken quilt; a cup of tea; bells on strings—though, as her daughter sleepily protests, none of them are blue. But at last, the light goes off, the moon shines in, and Alice gets her wish.

That is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems

That is Not a Good Idea! by Mo Willems

In That is Not a Good Idea! Mo Willems takes the art of silent films and applies it to picture books. A dapper fox has spied a beautiful goose walking the city streets. Each image is devoid of text, we only see what they are saying on black pages in between the action.

"Excuse me. Would you care to go for a stroll?" inquires the fox as he tips his hat. Suddenly, the film is interrupted. "That is NOT a good idea!" exclaims a baby goose.

Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner

Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner

Never has a feline been as terrifying as Mr. Wuffles. In truth, he really is just a curious housecat with a ton of playthings. The one toy that he is most interested in was not bought at the pet store. That is because it is not a toy at all.

David Wiesner is the master of wordless picture books. His photo-realistic artwork combines with clear-cut tales of adventure and whimsy, and his latest title once again proves his mastery of the art of picture books.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; Illustrated by Jon Klassen

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett; Illustrated by Jon Klassen

The gray of winter is dismal enough to turn even the cheeriest of smiles upside down. Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett, is a much needed pick-me-up during these dreariest of times.

Annabelle finds a box of multicolored yarn in the snow. When she takes it home to knit a sweater, she finds that she still has more. So Annabelle makes a sweater for her dog, too. No matter how much she knits, the box always has extra yarn in it.

Molly Bang

Growing up with Books and Traveling the World

With a scientist/writer for a mother and a research physician for a father, it’s little wonder that Molly Bang grew up to be a writer and illustrator who would eventually make it her mission to create books that drawn children into the world of science. Her family kept a large library and would often give each other books illustrated by the famous Charles Rackham as gifts. Molly found these to be inspiring.

After she graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in French, Molly traveled to Japan to teach English at a university there for 18 months before returning to work on master’s degrees in Oriental studies. Then it was back overseas to illustrate health manuals for UNICEF, as well as Johns Hopkins and Harvard, working, among other places, in Calcutta and Bangladesh.