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Favorite Picture Books: Susan

Posted by Susan on April 27, 2009 at 5:54 PM in Picture BooksRecommendations
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Jen, Pam and I are getting things started on Booklights by sharing our ten favorite picture books with you.

This was an enormous challenge for me because there are so many books I love. After a lot of agonizing, I managed to narrow it down to twenty. Here are ten of my favorites, with part two (favorite books to read aloud) coming soon. It was impossible for me to rank them, so I put the books in alphabetical order by author.

Some of these books are from childhood and others were published very recently. Every time I pick any of these books up, I know I'm holding a friend in my hand.

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.

Visitor for Bear.jpgThis book was just published in 2008, but it feels and looks like a classic to me. Bear and Mouse are such delightful characters that they make me want to keep turning the page to find out what happens next (even if I already know). The beautiful illustrations coupled with the wonderful story makes this book a true stand out.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton.

Mike Mulligan.jpg I could never hear this book enough when I was a kid. I always feel like I'm part of the crowd in Popperville cheering Mike and Mary Ann to finish the cellar before it gets dark. See this post to discover a lesser known fact about this classic.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.

Hungry Caterpillar.jpg I've read this book hundreds of times and never get tired of it. The words and illustrations flow together just right. And happy birthday to the Hungry Caterpillar, which just turned 40 years old, but doesn't look a day older than when I first read it.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein.
Man Who Walked.jpg

This book tells the story of Philippe Petit's daring tightrope walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center. Gerstein sums up Pettit's incredible feat succinctly with illustrations that are simultaneously realistic and fanciful. A beautiful book about the power of memory.

What Do You Say, Dear? By Sesyle Joslin, illustrated by Maurice Sendak.

What Do You Say.jpgI think this is one of the best and simplest book about etiquette for any age. I love the delightful, witty humor by Sesyle Joslin and the perfect drawings by Maurice Sendak make this book wonderfully absurd and extremely funny. And kids may even learn a thing or two about good manners.

The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord and Janet Burroway.
Giant Jam Sandwich.jpg

How did the villagers of Itching Down handle the four million wasp that flew into town? By building a huge sandwich to trap the wasps, of course. This funny tall tale with its humorous rhyming text and pictures is silly and memorable.

Zen Shorts by Jon Muth. Zen Shorts.jpg

Jon Muth's vivid watercolor paintings turn this quiet book into something quite extraordinary. The modern day story intertwines itself wonderfully with the classic folk tales. And of course, I love Stillwater the panda.

Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathmann. Officer Buckle.jpg

The 1996 Caldecott Medal winner has a special place in my heart. This funny, creative and buoyantly drawn book is a joy to read every time. It has a great message about the importance of sticking by your friend, whether human or canine. It always makes me laugh and makes me wish I had Gloria for a buddy.

Cars and Trucks and Things that Go by Richard Scarry. Cars and Trucks.jpg

This classic, oversized book grows along with a child. It's perfect for showing pictures to a baby, words to a toddler, or reading the story of the pig family to a preschooler. And of course, anyone at any age, can look for Goldbug. Whichever way you read it, it's always fun.

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham. Harry the Dirty Dog.jpg

When I was little, I used to look forward to going to the doctor's office, because my pediatrician had a copy of Harry the Dirty Dog in his waiting room. I own my own copy now and still never get tired of this timeless classic about a dog who hates to take baths.

What are your favorite picture books? What are your children's favorites?


Nancy writes...

Love this list! Zen Shorts and Harry the Dirty Dog of two of my kids' favorites.

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks, Nancy! How wonderful that your kids love books published so many decades apart.

Janelle Davis writes...

Many happy memories of reading "Harry the Dirty Dog" with my mom. I have yet to read "Visitor for Bear" but it is on my library list! Thanks for your suggestions. I've been watching the top 100 picture book list on Fuse #8 with interest as well.

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks, Janelle! Enjoy Visitor for Bear. Isn't Harry great?

Heidi writes...

Susan, Pam, Jen -- this is AMAZING! Congratulations on your new blog and on being associated with PBS, my favorite channel since the beginning of time. I picked the most recent post to comment on, but this is really a response to all the posts so far: I love the way your enthusiasm and warm personalities are shining through your writing. And, by the way, thanks for the great booklists. (And thanks, Susan, for the link to the cool trivia on Mike Mulligan!).

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Heidi- thank you so much for your wonderful support. I know we all truly appreciate it. Glad you like the Mike Mulligan trivia. I love anecdotes like that and am planning to post more of them on Booklights.

Anamaria writes...

I love this exercise, even if my list (and maybe yours!) might change from year to year, or even month to month! We have more than a few favorites in common, but I wanted to point to Mordecai Gerstein's The Man Who Walked Between the Towers in particular--a powerful reminder that picture books aren't only for the youngest of young readers.

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Anamaria- you're exactly right. My list definitely changes from year to year. Thanks for making the comment about the Man Who Walked Between the Towers. It's definitely one of those books that works for older readers too.

Jen writes...

I've just picked up some boardbooks for our infant and can't wait to stock her library with some of these suggestions. I've only read Eric Carle's but am eager to read "Harry the Dirty Dog."

One of my favorite waiting room reads was "The Digging-est Dog" -- I've always loved how it builds. Thanks for these suggestions!

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks so much for mentioning The Digging-est Dog, Jen. I haven't read it for a while, and am looking forward to rediscovering it. I'll be doing a post soon on board books... I know it can be hard to figure out where to start when building a library.

Karin writes...

Great list and indeed a challenge. Here are some of my personal childhood favorites:

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel (Author), Blair Lent (Illustrator)

The Funny Little Woman also by Arlene Mosel

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (Author, Illustrator)

Terry Doherty writes...

What a great list. I was working in my daughter's school library today and had to (re)catalog a copy of What Do You Say, Dear? I'm happy to report that my loud "oh, what a great book" didn't get the library Shhhh!

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks, Terry! I'm glad you rediscovered such a wonderful book and didn't get shhhed. Although, I have to admit, I never shhh anyone in my library, except perhaps in rowdy storytimes.

Dawn writes...

Officer Buckle and Gloria and The Very Hungry Caterpillar are two of my favorites, too!

Another great caterpillar to butterfly story is Bubba and Trixie, by Lisa Campbell Ernst. It's a beautifully written and illustrated story for ages 3-6.

Thanks for sharing your choices!

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks, Dawn! I'm so glad you've discovered Officer Buckle and Gloria, it can sometimes be a hidden gem. Thanks for the recommendation about Bubba and Trixie.

Scope Notes writes...

Great top ten and a great way to kick off Booklights! Always cool to see which books are getting "new classic" status bestowed upon them.

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks so much, Travis!

Abby writes...

Hooray for Richard Scarry making your list! Cars and Trucks is hilarious and hours upon hours of fun - particularly when you're trying to find gold bug! Also recommend Richard Scarry's Best First Book Ever, with tons of fun vocabulary.

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Abby- I love Richard Scarry's books. They're all bursting with vocabulary and funny jokes. It's also worth checking out Scarry's illustrations in "I Am A Bunny" by Ole Risom. The pictures are much softer than you might expect from him.

Kate writes...

I'm very glad you chose What Do You Say, Dear?--an often-overlooked classic. I also like the companion book, What Do You Do, Dear? It continues to amaze me that such ostensibly didactic books could be so much fun!

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Kate- I think What Do you Say, Dear is often overlooked too. The companion book is great too. It's didactic, but in such an offbeat silly way which is what makes it work so well.

Jules writes...

Ah, A VISITOR FOR BEAR. Modern classic!

Love your list.

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thanks, Jules! I agree... A Visitor for Bear is definitely a modern classic.

Jean writes...

Oh, how could I have forgotten CARS AND TRUCK AND THINGS THAT GO on my own top 10 list. The binding is so warn on our family copy I might just have to buy a new one.

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

The same thing happened to me, Jean. The binding on my childhood copy literally fell apart and I ended up buying a new copy for my son. The last page had been ripped out of my old book, and it wasn't until I got the new copy that I finally got to see how the book ended!

Sarah writes...

I love reading these lists now, when my son is just starting to get into reading books himself.

His newest favorite, though, I have not seen anywhere, and he has us reading ir 4 and 5 times a day! (now if they only had it in board book form... Since he's not quite competent yet at the regular pages)

The Biggest thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry

SusanAuthor Profile Page writes...

Sarah- how exciting that your son is starting to get into reading by himself. Actually, I love The Biggest Thing in the Ocean... if my list had been longer, that book would have definitely made it. I recommend the sequel too, which is called I'm the Best Artist in the Ocean.

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