Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wanna Buy Some Picture Books as Presents? Try These.

Tara Lazar asked me to name my top three picture books of 2009 for her Best Picture Books of 2009 list. She ended up with a great list (go check it out), but I was all, "Really, Tara? Three?! Why don't I also pick my favorite two toes and one doughnut flavor, while I'm at it?"

So for my own list, I'm cheating. I'm doing five, including the three I gave Tara and two other favorites, any of which could have made the top three.

Here goes:

1. Two of a Kind
story by me
art by Matt Phelan

Let's get the shameless self-love out of the way: I would be lying if I didn't pick Two of a Kind. Michael Sussman refrained from mentioning Otto Grows Down, citing modesty. But let's be honest. 1. I am not that modest, and 2. I'd like to be cool enough to pretend I didn't dance like a four year-old fairy girl whenever I turn to the page with my name on it. But I'm not. And I do. More than that, though, I still love the story and the way it makes kids nod in recognition.

2. Duck! Rabbit!
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld

I was smitten with this book from the start. The concept is simple: is it a duck or a rabbit? Two voices argue. Giggling ensues. As I blogged in July, we get extra giggling in our house because Destructo does not have the cognitive ability to see it both ways and so he thinks the point of the book is that some poor dope thinks that bunny's a duck.

3. A Book
by Mordecai Gerstein

Kirkus called it "Metafiction for the picture-book set." A young girl who lives in the book with her family struggles to find her story, trying on different genres and marveling at the giant mushy faces (that's us) looking in on her. It's funny, it's smart, and it is truly unique. Plus, we read it five hundred times in the first month we had it and I never tired of it.

4. Thunder Boomer
by Shutta Crum, illus. Carol Thompson

I just searched my blog and I only briefly recommended this book to you. This is a big mistake. The only reason this wasn't on my top three list is that I thought I'd already blabbed enough about it all over the intrawebs. If you have a kid or are a kid or want to write picture books or if you are afraid of storms or if you love storms or if you think underwear is funny and kittens are cute, you should GO BUY THIS BOOK TODAY. Shutta Crum writes simply beautiful prose-poetry, the illustrations are gorgeous, and the story of the family, the storm that hits their farm, and the surprise they find afterwards is lovely. Don't take my word for it: School Library Journal and the Smithsonian both chose it as one of the best books of the year.

5. You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!
by Jonah Winter, André Carrilho

I totally forgot this one was from this year!. The text below is stolen from my original post about it.

Why you must love it: Because you must love Sandy Koufax, who struggled and overcame and stood up for his beliefs and retired on top. And was a good guy, it seems. The voice is perfect and the story has what I consider the perfect level of information for a picture book biography.*

Caveat: The illustrations. I like them and they're very cool, but the faces are warped and it freaked Destructo out quite a bit: "Why he YOOK yike dat? He really yook yike dat?"

There it is. That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it. Unless I see something else I forgot about that's awesome. Or someone offers doughnuts.

So, what are YOUR top three (or five) picture books of 2009? Discuss.


cath c said...

excellent list. i especially like #1.

Michael Sussman said...

You're right, Jacqui, that was false modesty on my part. Otto Grows Down is definitely the picture book of the year! It's got fabulous illustrations by Scott Magoon & is the first picture book to feature backwards time!

Since writing my piece for Tara Lazar, I've had a chance to read A Book by Mordicai Gerstein, which is a hoot.

I'm afraid I haven't had a chance to read Two of a Kind, but it's at the top of my list!

Jacqui said...

Thanks, cath!

Michael, welcome! And thanks for making me feel better about picking my own book. I will definitely check out Otto Grows Down.