Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Birds in Trees: Ten Favorite Picture Books

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.


Lone Star Ma said...

I love the Kevin Henkes books - my girls have always really enjoyed them (and raisins taste like dirt!). Chrysanthemum was a good one to have around a house like mine.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

What a fabulous list! I love Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present more than I can even say. And, YES, Saving Sweetness is a great read-aloud.

Do you know that I LOVE Fuse's idea but haven't had time to do it? Kills me. When does she need those lists again? Hmmm...maybe I have time.

Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

Such a wonderful list! Some favorites of ours, too (Mr. Rabbit! the small-tooth dog!) and some new ones to look for. I have Voices in the Park checked out from the library right now (I think you may have mentioned it in an earlier post?).

Charlotte said...

Goodness, I dunno how, or why, but there are eight books on your list that I have not read!

I actually beg to differ on Mr. Rabbit--he kind of gives me the creeps....(sorry. Maybe I should try again, now that I'm three years older).

Beth Kephart said...

Reading these synopses made me wish that I had a small child near again, though I am always wishing that...

Elaine Magliaro said...


I, too, love JULIUS, THE BABY OF THE WORLD. I've thought about making a list of my favorite picture books--but it's soooo difficult. There are so many that that I love. I've never read that book by Waber. One of my favorite Waber books is AN ANTEATER NAMED ARTHUR.

The Library Lady said...

I will treasure "Julius" forever for the "uncooperative chair". One of my all time favorite "sibling" books.

Kaethe said...

I'm thrilled to discover a whole slew of new-to-me books.