I am a HUGE fan of picture books.  I love the stories in the pages, and even more, I love the illustrations.  When I worked in the children’s section of a bookstore, my favorite thing was to shelve the picture books because I could gaze at the images and gather in the stories . . . without losing hours and my job. 519BQXV0S5L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

So today, here are my 10 favorite picture books:

1. Piggies by Audrey and Don Wood – I love any story that plays with folk or fairy tales, and this one – a play on the “10 Little Piggies” nursery rhyme is lovely. Fun and playful . . . and the illustrations are amazing.

2. The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales told by Virginia Hamilton – My friend Alex told me I needed to know Virginia Hamilton’s work, and as soon as I looked her up, I remembered this book – one of my favorites to read and gaze upon. The tales here are wonderful – calling forth history and family and religion in the ways that give us strength.

3. The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken – This book was one of my mom’s favorites because of the illustrations (she taught me to appreciate them.) and because of the theme – she was a quilter after all. A lush story that reminds us of the power in generosity.

4. Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky – If I had to pick one children’s illustrator, I would probably pick Zelinsky. His paintings are ornate and complex, and they make the stories they accompany sing. Plus, Rapunzel is probably my favorite fairy tale.

5. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats – I’ve loved this book since I was a kid. The snow day. The simple but lovely illustrations. The great joy in the main character’s simple day. Wonderful.

6. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak – I probably don’t have to say much here. Love the story. Love the illustration. Still haven’t seen the movie because I fear the book will be tainted.

7. Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg – The movie was fun but didn’t do this book justice. The illustrations here are magical, and I’ve always loved the idea of a the magic in every day . . . so great.

8. Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say – Stories about journeys have always been one of my favorites, and this one is no exception. I love the paintings on the pages, too; they contrast with the enormity of the grandfather’s travel.

9. Stone Soup by Marcia Brown – As a kid, I loved stories of trickery, people being fooled into doing the right thing. So this book was a favorite of mine – still is.

10. Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger – This may be my favorite picture book ever. The story makes me calm, serene . . . comforted by the pattern of life and by the image of a kind man easing in the night with his hands.

What are your favorite picture books? I’d love recommendations.


Yesterday, I had the honor of being featured on Jennifer Pastiloff’s wonderful blog, The Manifest-Station. Here’s the opening of the piece:

I heard my mother swear exactly one time.

My brother and I wanted to go to the pool on a blazing summer day. We were already in the back of the Chevette, our legs sticking to the vinyl, and Mom was in the driver’s seat.  I cannot remember what Jeremy and I were badgering her about – going sooner, staying longer, more snacks? – but she lost it a tiny, tiny bit.

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