It’s Picture Book Listmania Time! — AKA August 10 for 10 (#pb10for10)

Aug 10, 2013 by

August 10 for 10 began in 2010 when Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek decided it would be a great idea, and wonderful resource, for people to share their 10 favorite picture books on the 10th of August. Cathy speaks about the history of  how the event started on her blog, and I’m sure there are going to be many, many awesome lists being put together to celebrate. And in that spirit, let me share mine.

I have been waiting for an opportunity to talk about  picture books I love, so I might go into somewhat of a fervor; forgive me. I’ve decided to share two lists: one of my favorite picture books that I’ve read so far in 2013 (some are published earlier than that, but I read them only this year), and one of my top 10  picture book creators. To create a master list is near impossible because I love different picture books for different reasons. With some it’s the  subject, others the art styles. Hence the decision to offer my slightly unconventional lists for those of you who are interested.

Let’s start with the top 10 books I’ve read and enjoyed so far in 2013:

I was thrilled beyond bits to know that Suzy Lee had a new book coming out this year. In case you don’t already know, Suzy Lee is one of my favorite picture book creators of all timeThe innovation she brings to the  picture book form is on a whole different level. In this book her  illustrations accompany author Jesse Klausmeier’s brilliant and very meta concept to make a winning book. Literally — it was a picture book honor winner at the 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book awards.

 

 

 

Missing Mommy — Author & Illustrator: Rebecca Cobb

I have a lot of respect for picture books that dare to explore difficult subjects. What could be more devastating than the death of a parent? How a picture book can be so incredibly moving with a handful of  words and such simple but evocative illustrations speaks to the talent of the creator, Rebecca Cobb. Deeply affecting, I unabashedly shed a few tears over this one.

 

 

 

I think it’s hard to find non-fiction picture books that are successful at telling  a compelling story along with being informative. On a Beam of Light manages to tick both boxes emphatically. It can’t hurt either when the illustrations are done by the incredibly talented Vladimir Radunksy, and add a quirkiness and charm that is terribly endearing. In a quest to find good science-related picture books I came across this gem about Albert Einstein’s innate curiosity that led him to later become a ground-breaking scientist. Berne’s prose is engaging and flows effortlessly, making Einstein’s journey a very inspiring one. Never did I think I’d find so much magic in science. Go figure.

 

 

Bear and Bee — Author/Illustrator: Sergio Ruzzier

The genius behind this book is the story. Perfectly balanced between text and images, it is completely adorable in every way imaginable. I mean, just look at Bear’s slippers. Aww.  Surprisingly enough, there aren’t many people who make picture books that know how to tap into a  younger audience’s head. But this man sure does know how. With plenty of surprising and delightful moments, this book would make an excellent read-aloud choice.

 

 

 

If You Want to See a Whale — Author: Julie Fogliani, Illustrator: Erin Stead

 

This is the second book of this duo that I’ve read (the first was And Then, It’s Spring), and honestly I found it hard to pick which one I liked better. If You Want to See a Whale inched ahead ever so slightly in the end. Julie Fogliani is an incredible talent. I think writing picture book texts is extremely challenging but when you read her books, the lilt and cadence they have, I haven’t come across anything like them–pure picture book poetry. And what better to match her text than Erin Stead’s beautiful and delicate wood-cut illustrations. I’ll bet that any future book they make together, I’ll be a fan of.

 

 

Virginia Wolf — Author: Kyo Maclear, Illustrator: Isabelle Arsenault

 

Having spoken about picture books that address difficult subjects, this book too is one for the same category. It cleverly, and poignantly, addresses depression and is loosely based on… Virginia Woolf, of course. The illustrations are charming and the text is very well-written too. It just goes to show that no topic is too big or small for picture books if it’s in the right hands and treated with respect. Loved it.

 

 

Green— Author/Illustrator: Laura Vaccaro Seeger

 One great concept — that’s all you need. Different shades of green –could there be a simpler premise? But there is creativity in the way those shades are described and depicted. All too often we find books that have lots of bells and whistles but the beauty and simplicity of the humble die-cut is preserved and pronounced in this book, even though it’s presence is subtle. Green is a masterpiece. It was an Honor Book at the 2013 Caldecott Awards; absolutely no surprises why. 

 

 

 

Bear Despair— Creator: Gaetan Doremus

 Another winning concept, with a great title to boot. I don’t think I’ve laughed harder at any picture book. Absolutely hilarious, wickedly entertaining, and just the right size to carry around in your bag and pull out to snigger at when you’re feeling low. The loose sketch pen illustrations and the helter skelter lines add to the craziness perfectly. Basically, it’s a small book of epic genius.

 

 

Advice to Little Girls — Author: Mark Twain, Illustrator: Vladimir Radunsky

 I think it’s obvious by now that I have a serious soft corner for Vladimir Radunksy’s artwork. I’ve read several of the books he’s illustrated, but this is probably the one I love the most. Advice to Little Girls is actually a text that was written by Mark Twain way back in 1864 that Radunsky decided to illustrate and make into a picture book. The biting satire is marvelously matched by Radunsky’s signature oddball style. Honestly, I don’t know who else could have illustrated that text and made it this entertaining. My advice to you: get it.

 

 

 

Little Bird — Author: Germano Zullo, Illustrator: Albertine

 Last but most definitely not the least, Little Bird was a book that I chanced upon in the library one day. And so goes the story that led to discovering one of my all-time favorite wordless picture books. This book is other-worldly. The power of the imagination is so pronounced; it’s a work of beauty and art. I’m not even going to attempt to summarize what it’s about. Take my word for it and go pick it up. These pictures do speak much, much louder than any words ever could.

 

 

Aaaaand that wraps up my first list!

 

Now onto my list of my top 10 innovative picture book creators out there. I truly value creators that are challenging the boundaries of what picture books can do. In this regard I decided to share my list of  people to look out for that are doing some really fantastic work in the field. Two of my favorite creators are Shaun Tan and Suzy Lee, but there are others I’ve discovered  in the past year and half or so and would love to recommend them too. So, here they are:

  1. Shaun Tan — The creator of  The ArrivalEnough said. Ok, maybe not. I once described The Arrival as the one book I would save in a raging fire. Shaun Tan refuses to be pigeon-holed. Does he write graphic novels? Picture books? Books with pictures? Are they for children? Adults? But most importantly– does it even matter? His imagination is unrivaled. I am in complete awe of this man and cannot even fathom the depth of his brilliance.
  2. Suzy Lee — This woman needs no words. Her wordless picture books are some of my very favorite. Definitely take a look at Wave, Mirror, & ShadowI own all these titles, and never tire of flipping through them.
  3. Vladimir Radunsky — We’ve been over this already :)
  4. Chris Raschka — A Caldecott  Award winning picture book maestro who is constantly re-inventing himself. He has written & illustrated picture books on everything from jazz to rapping dogs. His latest Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle is a really fun read, much like his many other books.
  5. Erin. E Stead — Her distinct and delicate illustrations are completely unique and beautiful to spend time poring over. I especially love the pictures in A Sick Day for Amos McGee for which she won the Caldecott Award in 2011.
  6. Albertine — The illustrator of Little Bird. Enough said? I’m on a mission to get my hands on more of her work.
  7. Mac Barnett — One of the most interesting picture book authors today. He is constantly experimenting, playing with common perceptions and making very exciting picture books. Pick up his latest book, Count the Monkeys, and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
  8. Sophie Blackall — Another incredibly talented author/ illustrator who plays with different techniques and styles, but always has her idiosyncratic stamp on the books she creates. Her latest book, The Mighty Lalouche is simply stunning.
  9. Laura Vaccaro Seeger — Of course the creator of Green has more wonderful stuff up her sleeve. Her latest book, Bully, is getting excellent reviews.
  10. Isol — Shocking, if the winner of the 2013 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award isn’t a creative picture book maker!  A beast of talent always pushing the boundaries in terms of subject, scope, perspective and so much more. Isol’s work is symbolic of everything to aspire to.

Tan-ta-taaaan! The end.

Those were my kinda-sorta-cheating lists because I got to put in a lot more than 10 books (?!)  But I hope you discovered something intriguing enough to go and grab a hold of. And now I’m off to go and find some more books to add to my reading list…

10 Comments

  1. Ooo – “Bear Despair” sounds intriguing. This 10 for 10 day is getting expensive!

    Great list!

    • Gayathri

      It is fabulous! :) And yes, I’m totally with you on the getting expensive point. I was just thinking the same thing :)

      Thank you! Glad you got something out of it :)

  2. I am definitely intrigued by your list. I loved Radunsky’s illustrations in A beam of Light-loved the book too.

    • Gayathri

      Thanks, Debra! So happy you came across some interesting books :) And yes, I loved his illustrations in the book, too.

  3. Two lists! I admire your dedication! And your taste. Both lists are fabulous. Open This Little Book is completely charming and I couldn’t agree with more about Sophie Blackall and The Mighty LaLouche. Thanks for sharing!

    • Gayathri

      Haha… thank you! Must admit it did take me a while to put it all together, but what better time was there to share all my favorites? :) So glad you enjoyed going through my picks. Thanks for taking the time, and for stopping by!

  4. After following your blog from the beginning, I’ve come to expect something new and interesting in every post. These lists just re-affirm that! See a couple of my own favorites listed but will be sure to get a hold of the rest. I’m tempted to ask how long it took you to put these together!

    • Gayathri

      Aww, you’re too kind :) But I’m so glad that for someone who’s been following this long, that you still come around and manage to find something interesting! Put the list together in half a day, but the process is always ongoing. I read some books two days ago that might have made it had I read them earlier :) Ask me in another 6 months, and it might have changed slightly!

  5. Yamini

    Oh, I love ‘Sick Day for Amos McGee’. Love ‘Bear Has a Story to Tell’ as well. Been dying to see a whole bunch of these for a while now. But they’re so expensive. I wish Indian public libraries were well stocked. Thanks for this list. I’m going to look up the ones I haven’t come across before.

    • Gayathri

      Yes, Erin Stead’s work is gorgeous! *sigh*, yes the books are expensive. I’m just lucky (and spoiled now) that the library here is so well-stocked and also fairly quick to get new releases. Happy searching; hope you have a successful hunt!

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  1. Sometimes, two heads are way better than one: a picture book author-illustrator dream team | The Picture Book Lab - […] when I picked up Little Bird at the library (I wrote about my love for this book earlier here), and…

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