I haven't done a batch of picture books in forever so I figured it was about time to share some recent finds. We haven't had the best of luck finding books lately, mostly due to my lack of effort, but I happened across some books these last few weeks that have made it into the favorites pile.
I'm completely behind the times in discovering Kevin Henke's book Kitten's First Full Moon that also won a Caldecott Award some years ago. My daughter picked it up at the library and all of us loved it. Kitten thinks the moon is a giant bowl of milk hanging in the sky, but all her efforts to get to it fail. She eventually gets her bowl of milk after an accidental dunk in a pond. The book is done completely in black and white illustrations that are beautiful and riveting. I can see an infant being interested in this book because of the stark contrast. The story is sweet and it has all the charm of Henkes' book.
My two-year-old has a mantra that she shares with the title of Jonathan Allen's book I'm not cute! My daughter hates it when her sisters pat her head, give her kisses and say the dreaded phrase. I think it makes her feel small when she thinks she is so very big. Little Owl in this book feels the same way and keeps insisting to the other animals that he is NOT cute and is actually a deadly predator. When bedtime comes around, his mommy reassures him that he is a stealthy hunting machine. I could relate to this book as the mommy who loves her darling little child and reassures them that they are big and important despite their inherent adorableness. Serious points on the cute scale for this book.
The idea of kids being frightened by monsters under their beds isn't anything new, but author Amanda Noll gives it a new twist in I Need My Monster. Ethan gets a note from his regular monster that he's gone fishing and that a substitute monster will be filling in for him, but how will Ethan get to sleep without his monster? He'll miss his ragged breathing and scratching claws. Ethan rejects each monster fill-in that shows up and is in despair over how he'll get to sleep. This book is far from frightening and my kids wanted it read to them over and over again. Part of that is due to Howard McWilliam's amazing illustrations. These eye-popping, zinging pictures leave you wanting more. Too bad this is his first picture book because now I want to see everything he's ever done. Somebody please hire him for more books! This book is a big winner.
For another slightly scary but mostly cute bedtime book, we have The Book That Eats People by John Perry. The conversation I had with my five-year-old went something like this:
Me: I'm a little nervous to read this book. I mean, it says that it eats people.
Adorable Daughter: Mom, books don't really eat people.
Me: Are you sure? It has warning tape all over the cover and seems pretty serious about it.
Adorable Daughter: It'll be fine, Mom. Just read it.
She wasn't falling for it, despite my best efforts to build up suspense. The book is serious about it being hungry for people, describing the fates of many young children who carelessly ate cookies while reading or turned their backs on it. We survived that first reading, thankfully, and have since read it over and over again. The illustrations are very cool and slightly frightening, two aspects I greatly enjoy. I read about this book somewhere online and immediately requested that my library purchase the book, which they willingly did because they are smart.
Another book I requested for purchase for the library was Spot the Plot: a riddle book of book riddles by J. Patrick Lewis. I bet all the children's librarians who review my requests for material purchases are wishing they could shake my hand and thank me in person. This clever book has a riddle and illustration that hints at a book that most children would know. There was only one that I hadn't heard of and another additional one that my kids hadn't heard of but that's my fault. These riddles are seriously awesome, one of my favorites being: "Good wood makes fake bad lad. Toy boy cries, lies. Nose grows." How cool is that? Loved it. Your kids will too.
This is a good batch of books! It'll make up for not having done any picture books in forever. It might be too late for any Christmas shopping, but certainly it'll at least give you some selections for the next library trip.