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?

On Our Shelves: New Picturebooks

Are you running out of picturebooks to share with your youngest book lovers, or just sick and tired of re-reading the same story over and over again?  Well, here are some of the most recent arrivals in our collection that you may want to check out.

That is NOT a Good Idea!

That is NOT a Good Idea!, written and illustrated by Mo Willems is reminiscent of silent movies, with the classic damsel in distress. The story starts with a hungry fox inviting a plump goose for dinner and as the story continues in a familiar fable-like arc, a young chick (and young readers and listeners) repeat in growing volumes that they think the choices made are NOT a Good Idea. Full-color illustrations, the repeated phrase, and the unexpected ending will make this a fast favorite and a requested re-read.

Little Mouse

Little Mouse by Alison Murray is a picturebook about a young girl who has the nickname of ‘Little Mouse”. However, sometimes she is annoyed by the nickname and wishes it was not hers. Sometimes she likes to be as loud as an elephant, waddle like a penguin, or be as fierce as a lion. But then again, sometimes, like when she wants to cuddle with her mother, the nickname is just fine.

Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom

Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom by John Rocco is a fun picturebook about a boy and his friends that play superhero a lot. Rocco believes that his super powers come from his hair, and that the crazier his hair gets, the more powerful he becomes. One day Rocco is dragged to the barber and gets a haircut. In his despair about the loss of hair, and possibly his powers, he discovers that the rest of his crew and their crazy hair, have all met similar fates. In the end, Rocco discovers that he is just as super as ever.

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The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot

The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot! by Scott Magoon is a clever twist on “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. It is told from the point of view of an unexpected narrator and, through snappy text and lighthearted illustrations, demonstrates the value of telling the truth, the importance of establishing trust, and (of course!) the possibility that a beast you created to get attention can become a real-life friend.

The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf

The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf by Mark Teague Three pigs spend their money on different things: potato chips, sody-pop, and building supplies. It comes as no surprise that a wolf is able to blow down the first two pigs’ houses. When the wolf can’t blow down the third pig’s brick house, everyone comes together and the fun begins. The first two pigs give him potato chips and sody-pop, and the third pig makes everyone a healthy meal. Since only one pig has a house left, the other two pigs and the wolf move in with her. The somewhat bad wolf is no longer hungry.

Some of my other new favorites include Cheetah Can’t Lose by Bob Shea, Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? by Julie Middleton and Russell Ayto, Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue, If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead, The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten by Maureen Fergus, and Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgueira and Poly Bernatene.

Do you have a new favorite or discovery that you want to share?