Pictures Really Worth a Thousand (or More) Words

A great picturebook is one that has a perfect pairing of illustrations and words. It should have a story that is interesting to most age groups, and artwork that makes you want to go back for more. Sometimes however you find a picturebook that has such wonderful illustrations that it could be wordless or a reader could ignore the words all together simply because of the perfection of the illustrations. Here are some picture books that have great stories and concepts, but truly stand out because of the fabulous artwork that helps to tell the story.

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge written by Mem Fox, illustrated by Julie Vivas
A small boy tries to discover the meaning of “memory” so he can restore that of an elderly friend.

Blueberry Girl written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess
Rhyming text expresses a prayer for a girl to be protected from such dangers as nightmares at age three or false friends at fifteen, and to be granted clearness of sight and other favors.

Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth
When Stillwater the bear moves into the neighborhood, the stories he tells to three siblings teach them to look at the world in new ways.

On Market Street  written by Arnold Lobel, pictures by Anita Lobel
A child buys presents from A to Z in the shops along Market Street.

Owl Moon written by Jane Yolen illustrated by John Schoenherr
On a winter’s night under a full moon, a father and daughter trek into the woods to see the Great Horned Owl.

The Mitten: a Ukrainian Folktale adapted and illustrated by Jan Brett
Several animals sleep snugly in Nicki’s lost mitten until the bear sneezes.

More great artwork and stories can be found in:  The Napping House by Audrey Wood illustrated by Don Wood, In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak , The Polar Express written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg, Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen illustrated by Helen Oxenbury, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses story and illustrations by Paul Goble, The Clown of God told and illustrated by Tomie de Paola, Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág , and Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. 

As always, I know I missed some picturebooks with picture perfect pages. Do you have a favorite picturebook that you treasure or remember because of the artwork?

It’s National Talk Like Pirate Day, Celebrate with Picturebooks!

Today is National Talk Like Pirate Day! Celebrate this fun day with us by enjoying some great pirate themed picturebooks! Everyone loves a great pirate tale, and these are fun stories that you can share with the whole family while getting into the spirit of a silly holiday.

Pirate Pete’s Talk Like a Pirate by Kim Kennedy
In search of a crew, Pirate Pete and his parrot look for “stanky scallywags” who possess certain conversational skills.

The Pirate Princess by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Tired of the royal life, Princess Bea boards a pirate ship and sets out for adventure on the high seas but soon finds she is not good at swabbing decks, cooking in the galley, or keeping watch from the crow’s nest.

Small Saul by Ashley Spires
Small Saul is a different kind of pirate. Will Small Saul be able to prove his worth as a pirate or will he be thrown overboard?

Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies by Carolyn Crim
Captain Barnacle Black Ear, baddest of the Buccaneer Bunnies, is ashamed of his book-loving son, Henry, until the day a great storm approaches.

You might also want to check out  The Pirates Next Door: Starring the Jolley-Rogers by Jonny Duddle, Pirate vs. Pirate: the Terrific Tale of a Big Blustery Maritime Match by Mary Quattlebaum, The Gingerbread Pirates by Kristin Kladstrup, The No-Good Do-Good Pirates by Jim Kraft, or Henry & the Crazed Chicken Pirates by Carolyn Crimi.

Would you prefer to learn about real pirates instead of reading picturebooks, or to follow up a fun tale with factual adventures? Then check out these children’s nonfiction books that they whole family can enjoy.

The Pirate Queen by Emily Arnold McCully, Women of the Sea: Ten Pirate Stories by Myra Weatherly, Blackbeard, the Pirate King: Several Yarns Detailing the Legends, Myths, and Real-life Adventures of History’s Most Notorious Seaman: Told in Verse by J. Patrick Lewis, Pirates: Facts, Things to Make, Activities by Rachel Wright, I Wonder Why Pirates Wore Earrings: and Other Questions about Piracy by Pat Jacobs, Pirates by Peter Chrisp, Real Pirates the Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship by Barry Clifford, Pirates : Robbers of the High Seas by Gail Gibbons, and Sea Queens: Women Pirates around the World by Jane Yolen.

Nancy Pearl’s First Children’s Audio Book

Nancy Pearl just might be America’s most well known librarian. She even has her own action figure! So it is little wonder that I was thrilled to read in USA Today  that she has recorded her first children’s audiobook. She has recorded the audiobook version of Isabella: Star of the Story, which was written by Jennifer Fosberry and illustrated by Mike Litwin.

Isabella: Star of the Show

Isabella: Star of the Story is a fun story which highlights an early love of reading and the use of imagination. When Isabella and her parents head to the library Isabella is transformed into  characters from some of the most popular children’s books. Isabella is briefly Alice, Dorothy, Peter Pan, and a number of other well known personas. When it is time to check out and head home, Isabella decides that it is best just to be herself, at least until it is reading time again.

If you are eager to hear Nancy Pearl at work, here is a book trailer for Isabella: Star of the Story that will give you a taste of what the audiobook will sound like.

Connecticut Picturebook Authors

Did you know that some of the most famous, and most loved, children’s authors live in Connecticut? I know that when I sat down determined to find out if any of my favorite authors are, or were, local I was amazed at the caliber of wonderful children’s books that were written right here in Connecticut. Here is a sampling of my favorite picturebook authors that I discovered to be own state treasures.

Mercer Mayer is the writer and illustrator for Little Critter First Readers, as well as Little Critter Spectrum. He began writing and illustrating children’s books in 1966 and has published over 300 titles. He also happens to live in Roxbury Connecticut. I loved the Little Critter books growing up, and now I get to share that love with my children with books like Just for You, There’s a Nightmare in My Closet and Just Go to Bed.

There’s a Nightmare in My Closet

Just for You

Anne Rockwell lives in Old Greenwich Connecticut. You might recognize her name from many picturebooks that are family and library favorites. Many of Anne’s early works were illustrated by her husband Harlow Rockwell. After his death in 1988, their daughter Lizzy stepped up and illustrated many of her books. Apples and Pumpkins, Whoo! Whoo! Goes the Train, and The First Snowfall are some of my favorites.

The First Snowfall

Apples and Pumpkins

Nancy Elizabeth Wallace grew up in Rowayton Connecticut, and now lives in Branford Connecticut. She writes and illustrates her picturebooks with cut paper art style images. Nancy often does research at the library for her science based books. She also collects what she is writing about, so that she can see and touch them in order to spark wonder, curiosity, questions, and better understanding. Stars! Stars! Stars!, Baby Day!, Pumpkin Day!, and Count Down to Clean Up! are some of her books that I remember most.

Count Down to Clean Up!

Baby Day!

Unfortunately, one of my favorite children’s author that was born and raised in Meriden Connecticut has since moved up to New Hampshire, Tomie De Paola. He is best known for his Strega Nona books and unique illustration style. Tomie dePaola has written (and/or illustrated) over 200 books for children. He and his work has received the Smithson Medal from the Smithsonian Institution, the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota, and the Regina Medal from the Catholic Library Association. My children and I love the books about Strega Nona, Big Anthony, and Bill and Pete books.

Pete and Bill to the Rescue

Strega Nona

Sadly, last year an amazing Connecticut resident, that also happened to be renowned children’s authors and illustrator, passed away. Maurice Sendak, passed away in May of 2012. This Ridgefield Connecticut resident wrote over twenty books, and illustrated more than four times that many. Most connect his name with Where the Wild Things Are, but I fondly remember Chicken Soup with Rice and his illustrations in Else Holmelund Minarik’s Little Bear books as well.

Little Bear

Where the Wild Things Are

There are several phenomenal authors of adult books, young adult books, and children’s chapter books here in our little state as well. I will be sharing some information and favorite books from those Connecticut residents in the weeks to come, so stay tuned.