Top 5 Picture Books

Our lists of top books of the year would not be complete without our favorite picture books. I miss my days as a public library children’s librarian for the storyhours and the picture books. Even though I work with middle school students now, I’ve kept my puppets, Where the Wild Things Are dolls and my love for picture books. Lynn and I attended some Mock Caldecott events and saw lots of great books this year but these are our personal favorites, not necessarily those eligible or predicted to win. Lynn’s list was co-selected by her five-year-old twin grandsons who have exquisite taste–Cindy

Cindy’s Top Five Picture Books:

Bats at the Library, by Brian Lies (Houghton)

The librarian in me can’t help but love this humorous, rhyming nighttime romp in the library, complete with making shadow puppets with the overhead projector. Makes me want to leave a window open… (archived Bookends post)

The Black Book of Colors, by Menina Cottin, illus. by Rosana Faria (Groundwood)

An intriguing look at color, done all in black with black raised lines and art, braille, and white text. This would be perfect for a diversity lesson and stretches beyond its early elementary targeted audience due to its creative execution. A book that boldly steps outside the box.

The House in the Night, by Susan Marie Swanson, illus. by Beth Krommes (Houghton)

I love scratchboard art and it is used beautifully here to tell the story of a book waiting on a bed that leads to adventure and back home again (as it also is in this year’s amazing Tadpole Rex by Kurt Cyrus–do you like how I smoothly sneaked in a 7th favorite?) Cumulative tales often leave something lacking for me, but this one is perfect.

A Kitten Tale, by Eric Rohman (Random House/Knopf)

Don’t Worry Bear, by Greg Foley (Penguin/Viking)

Okay, I know this is cheating to officially sneak in an extra title, but Lynn did it first in her Baker’s Dozen post! These two titles both teach about science (Rohman, the seasons, and Foley, metamorphosis). But personally, I need the reminder to not be fearful (losing the fear helped my downhill skiing) and not to worry so much. These would both do well in a school counselor’s office in addition to a storytime or laptime session.

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, by Jen Bryant, illus. by Melissa Sweet (Eerdmans)

This is a beautiful book from end paper to end paper. The simple biography of how this physician made time in his day to write poetry is perfectly illustrated with Melissa Sweet’s collages. I love the inclusion of his poetry drafts typed on his prescription pads. (archived Bookends post)

Lynn’s Top Five Picture Books:

Lynn and her twin grandsons

Lynn and her twin grandsons

What a wonderful year for picture books! My five-year-old grandsons and I love to read together and they have very strong opinions about books. (Hmmm, I wonder where that comes from?) We have chosen our favorite read-alouds for this year. These books are the books they request again and again.

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime, by Bob Shea (Hyperion)

Bright and lively illustrations carry the story and even the colors are loud. Simple black text encourages reader participation with plenty of roaring. Kids definitely get the jokes which are as much fun as the sound effects.

Nic Bishop Frogs, by Nic Bishop (Scholastic)

Dazzling photographs pair with fascinating text to create a book guaranteed to capture and hold the attention of even the wiggliest child.

Look Out, Suzy Goose, by Petr Horacek (Candlewick)

Bold, colorful illustrations mirror Suzy’s predicament as she flip-flops through the forest, never realizing she has a train of hungry creatures behind her. The text is perfect for reading aloud and my grandsons love knowing something that the character doesn’t know.

Tadpole Rex, by Kurt Cyrus (Harcourt)

We love the fascinating scale of the illustrations and the perfect palette with its swampy greens and browns. The bouncy rhythm of the words, the fleeps and floops, makes it fun to read aloud and the boys love finding Tadpole Rex on each page. Imaginative, original and finely crafted. (archived Bookends post)

Traction Man Meets Turbodog, by Mini Grey (Random House/Knopf)

Traction Man is back, still appropriately attired, and this new adventure is just as delightful as the first. Grey’s inventive illustrations are hilarious and there is lots of fun for the sharp-eyed reader, especially Scrubbing Brush’s revenge. (archived Bookends post)<–>



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "Top 5 Picture Books"

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  1. I love visiting your website but I have changed to my phone to surf the Internet more. Is there a mobile specific version of your site?

    • Rudolph – I referred your question to Keir Graff, Booklist Online’s Senior Editor. He said that at this point it is too expensive for us to create a mobile version of our site. However, he says we are developing an iPhone app for our Review of the Day,
      and also a mobile-specific landing page that will show a nicely formatted ROD to anyone who points their mobile to Thank you for your comment – it is valuable for us to know there is an interest in the mobile version. We’re glad you like visiting our site too 😉 – Lynn

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