Monday, November 16, 2015

My Favorite Picture Books

Remember this book? We librarians tend to avoid recommending books that are tied into other media, but this was a favorite when I was a kid and it still holds up today. When Grover notices the title, he becomes profoundly anxious about the monster at the end and proceeds to devise strategies that will prevent the reader from moving forward in the book. The reader turns a page, and Grover nails the next page down. When, in spite of Grover's efforts, the reader easily turns that page, Grover builds a brick wall. When the next page is turned, Grover asks the reader, "Did you know that your are very strong?" Grover's anxiety and antics intensify as each page is turned, until finally the big reveal at the end of the book.

This is the first book I can remember reading that spoke directly to me, that prompted me to interact with the characters. Now I read it to my kids and, just as with HervĂ© Tulet's Press Here, they are delighted with it's interactive elements. And I get to act melodramatic while I'm reading it, so, win-win.

Graeme Base's Animalia is another favorite for it's interactive elements. In fact, all of Base's books contain some sort of visual mystery to solve or hidden pictures. Animalia is an alphabet book with pages packed with items and creatures that suit each letter. This is a great one to build vocabulary long after the alphabet is learned, and it's super for kids who can't get enough I Spy and Where's Waldo books. The illustrations are stunning, the text is poetic, and the allusions are clever. You Whovians out there may be sharp enough to spot a little "easter egg" hidden on the dragon page above.

If, like me, you love books that share secrets with attentive readers, you may also enjoy the works of Jan Brett and Janell Cannon. Both authors garnish the pages of their beautifully illustrated books with tiny pictures depicting behind-the-scenes story lines. Awesome.

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