Friday, July 25, 2008

Respect the Mighty Picture Book You Might Not Know

Today I want to talk about three picture books that I love that you might not know. I get asked a lot for picture book gift ideas, and I'm always trying to think of great books the child will probably not already have, particularly older gems parents may have missed. Here are some...

1. A Weave of Words, by Robert San Souci, illus. Raúl Colon

What you gotta love
: It features the weaver's daughter Anait, who refuses to marry the prince Vachagan until he learns a trade and can read. Later, when Vachagan (now king) is captured by a three-headed dev, he's saved by his craft, by writing, and by Anait (now queen) who rides into battle as fiercely as any man.

The mood
: fairy tale formal language, gorgeous and dreamy etched watercolors

Recommended for
: boys or girls, ages 5-9, to read aloud. The dev is a little scary, but Tinkerbell can handle it (and she has been known to hide her eyes during the Curious George movie).

Especially recommended for
: girls who are princess-obsessed and need a jolt of strong girl.

2. Everybody Needs a Rock, by Byrd Baylor, illus. Peter Parnall

What you gotta love
: It's a book about the ten rules for finding your perfect rock. It is funny while respecting kids, and rocks, and it says:

I'm sorry for kids

who don't have
a rock
for a friend.

I'm sorry for kids
who only have
they don't have
for a friend.*

Mood: quiet and contemplative, straightforward language; sparse line drawings that evoke the southwest setting.

Recommended for: ages 5-9, kids who collect, who pick up sticks, rocks, etc., kids who should pick up rocks more, pet rocks, kids named "Rock"

Especially recommended for: kids who collect and arrange so many sticks and rocks that the front porch looks like a scene from the Blair Witch Project.

3. Mama, Do You Love Me? by Barbara Joosse, illus. Barbara Lavallee

What you gotta love
: The child wonders just how horrid she can be, and have her mother still love her. The mother answers firmly, but gently. It's mushy without being sickening. Plus, the illustrations are unique and lovely.

quiet, but with great opportunities to imitate wild beasts, great kid dialogue

Recommended for: the younger set, like 3-5; people looking for bedtime books, mothers who love their kids

Especially recommended for: kids who want to know if their mothers still love them even if those kids, say, stand in the kitchen naked and sing "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" at the top of their lungs while their mother is already frazzled because they have three minutes before they miss the camp bus and their baby brother has hidden a half-eaten cheese stick somewhere in the kitchen.


* You can see that page laid out better here.


ephelba said...

We love Everybody Needs a Rock too!

I'm always recommending David Wiesner books. He's getting more famous all the time, but it seems like most of the kids I know don't have him on their shelves yet.

Jacqui said...

Ephelba, I love David Wiesner too. Flotsam is just remarkable.

J. Thorp said...

Jacqui: Still digging your recommendation of Crow Boy by Taro Yashima, too.

Ephelba: One of the things I love about blog-world is when two friends from different parts of my life meet and chat. You and Jacqui would get along great, I think!

Boni Ashburn said...

We LOVE Everybody Needs A Rock!! We quote that book all the time and my kids are completely intrigued by the illustrations.

Excellent choice Jacqui :)

Susan Sandmore said...

Have that third one autographed! Love it! Must find rock book. And then rock.