By Stacy Parish, Children’s Department
So, yeah. November is (WAS! says that shrill, nagging voice in my head that is remarkably similar to that of Howard’s mother from Big Bang Theory) National Picture Book Month. Having the great good fortune to be employed in the Children’s Department at WCPL, in addition to being the mom to two awesome kids, to whom and with whom I got to read thousands of picture books over the span of more than a decade and a half, gives me a pretty broad perspective on the genre. However, in the spirit of the holiday season, I have decided to give my colleagues the opportunity to share their feast of favorites with y’all. (Please note: This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I haven’t been able to put together a coherent sentence for the past month; it’s just me being generous and inclusive, I swear.) Hence, I posed the following query to a random sampling of some of my esteemed library co-workers: What is your favorite children’s book or picture book?
- Julie Duke, Children’s Department Manager, WCPL: Pigs Aplenty, Pigs Galore by David McPhail is Julie’s favorite, because “Who doesn’t love a houseful of pigs gone hog wild?” The book is written in rollicking rhyme form and features fun, whimsical illustrations.
- Shifay Cheung, Circulation: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. “I love this book because it mentions food, and all those fun shapes and cutouts are just brilliant. I also love Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss because I love the rhyme and it of course mentions food.” I’m seeing a pattern emerging here, Shifay . . .
- Erin Holt, Teen Librarian: Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood. “I love owls, and this is such a sweet story about a curious little owl who stays awake one day when he should be sleeping instead, so that he can see how things work during the daytime.”
- Marcia Fraser, Special Collections: anything by Tomie dePaola. “Who can resist any of Tomie dePaola’s books? They were loved by my children and were definitely our favorites for reading aloud, as they were written to be told in the oral tradition. Strega Nona, Clown of God, Bill and Pete, Fin M’Coul are just a few of the standouts in the dePaola anthology. His books seem to hark back to the old world and are often written like folktales, with beautifully selected words to carry the story, stunning illustrations so rich in detail and color, and always a delicately disguised lesson or moral. DePaola’s books are classics in the world of Children’s literature, and rightly so.”
- Liz Arrambide, Children’s Librarian: Irene’s Wish by Jerdine Nolen. “Irene, like many children, wants more time with her dad, who is a hard-working and talented gardener. His job keeps him so busy that he doesn’t have a lot of time with the family. Irene knows that wishes can come true, so she wishes very hard and her wish does come true! However, as it sometimes is in the case of wishing, things are just a bit different than she expected.”
- Dolores Greenwald, Director, WCPL: “ My favorite children’s book is Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. Not only is fun and entertaining, but it teaches a lesson about not being closed-minded and critical. It is a great lesson and Dr. Seuss delivers it perfectly.”
- Jessica Dunkel, Reference: “My favorite picture book is This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen. It’s an underwater tale that follows a small fish who steals a bigger fish’s hat. It’s a simple, funny story with cute fish characters, a great ending, and an even better message!”
As for me, asking me to pick my favorite children’s picture book is like asking me to choose my favorite child. But I can narrow it down to two, for today (interestingly, also like picking my favorite child.) The first of these is Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. With very limited resources (a purple crayon that never loses its sharpness, no matter how much he uses it), Harold creates a magnificent dreamscape full of beauty and excitement, and is able to keep his wits about him when faced with a situation such as too much delicious leftover pie from a picnic (“all nine kinds of pie that Harold liked best”) which necessitates the creation of a very hungry moose and a deserving porcupine to finish it up.
My other favorite is Maurice Sendak’s classic Where the Wild Things Are. Who among us hasn’t daydreamed about sailing away and becoming the King (or Queen!) of all wild things? This book inspired me from the first time I read it as a child, continued to do so into my 20s (the door to my room in my college sorority house during my senior year was adorned with replicas of Max’s wild friends, and a warning that there might be wild things lurking within), and then became one of my children’s favorites. Snobby bookworm disclaimer: I don’t like the movie adaptation very much. Hearing the late James Gandolfini’s voice makes me happy and sad at the same time.
So there you have it. Our randomly assorted, in no particular order, today’s favorite but maybe not tomorrow’s, list of favorite picture books. I hope we have inspired you to come to the library and check out an armful. Also, this would be a most serendipitous time to mention that we have increased the checkout limit to 30 items per card! Come visit us soon and help us “Make It A Million,” i.e., one million items circulated this fiscal year. Take care, dear readers—
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and the coworkers she shamelessly glommed on to for help in completing her assignment. Also, just because I don’t like the film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are doesn’t mean that you can’t.