I sent off my list of 10 favorite picture-books to Fuse #8 today. In the event you are curious, I have posted my list with its quickly jotted down notes.
1) Zigger Beans—Diane Redfield Massie
As a child, I loved both the catchy rhythm and rhyme of this story about a mouse who finds some magical beans that make whoever swallows them act boisterous and start “ziggering”. I knew it by heart (and still do). My favorite spread is the scene where “John the mouse put on his skates and rolled across the dinner plates.” This book is out of print, and it’s very hard to find copies.
2) “I Can’t” Said the Ant--Polly Cameron
When rhyming works, it really works. The story is of a teapot that falls to the floor in an extremely well-stocked kitchen. In our house, “'Form a battalion!’ said the scallion” has become a rallying cry.
3) The Great Smelly, Slobbery, Small-Tooth Dog—Margaret Read MacDonald, illustrated by Julie Paschkis.
This simple, eloquent retelling of a Beauty and the Beast variant is relatively new, but I believe it’s going to become a classic. I love how Pashkis has illustrated end-papers of different flowers and their symbolisms which she then weaves through the pictures in the story.
4) Voices in the Park—Anthony Browne
Years after the book was first published, I still discover new things in the pictures. This book took awhile to grow on me, and I'm glad it did.
5) Zzzng, Zzzng, Zzzng!—Phyllis Gershator, illustrated by Theresa Smith and Greg Henry
I’ve told this story and read it aloud, and it manages to capture the attention of reluctant listeners so often that it's become a mainstay.
6) Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present—Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Maurice Sendak.
I love the colors in this book. The picture with the night sky reflected in the lake is an image I often return to in my mind. I also appreciate the conversations between the little girl and Mr. Rabbit. “My mother likes birds in trees” (instead of in cages) pretty much sums up the way I feel about the natural world. Charlotte Zolotow's website has an interesting section on how the book came to be.
7) Rich Cat, Poor Cat—Bernard Waber
The juxtaposition of Scat, a poor cat scrabbling around the city and a rich cat that has all the dainties in life is a crafty indictment of our nation’s underserved children.
8) Julius, the Baby of the World—Kevin Henkes
I started reading Kevin Henkes in college. A friend of mine gave me Chester’s Way, and when I discovered Julius while shelving books at my 10 hour a week job as a library page, I made all my friends sit and listen while I read the book aloud to them.
9) Saving Sweetness—Diane Stanley
This story rolls off the tongue when I read it aloud, and I can’t say that for many books written in dialect. This is one of the few longer books I read aloud for storytimes with much success. I'm always surprised.
10) The Lion and the Little Red Bird—Elisa Klevin
People can be friends even if they can’t speak the same language. Art is universal. It’s all good.