In Mama’s Opinion: Today’s Best Picture Books

Hi, folks! So, I’ve been losing a lot of valuable reading time these days succeeding at my other literary hobby: Finding amazing books at the library.

I’m assuming I’m not alone in this hobby. I always, always have a pile of checked-out library books I’ll never read. Additionally, I have a stack of owned books sitting on my bookshelf. I know I’ll never read those either. They don’t have deadlines, so I suppose they’ll sit and gaze at me longingly whenever I waltz by with borrowed book in hand. Is it normal I anthropomorphize books?

When I started this blog (over a year ago. Can you believe it?!), I began following all sorts of authors, illustrators, and fellow bloggers on Instagram and Twitter. Due to this, I tend to find amazing book recommendations of all sorts. Hence the reason I never stop putting library books on hold. Also hence the reason I never get to the bottom of my to-be-read pile.

My children also have a constant stack of plastic-enveloped library books, but since they’re only like 32 pages apiece, we can blow through them pretty quickly. I’ve recently run across four picture books that stand above the rest, so I thought I’d share.

final1531237034597-611547938.jpgA Dog Named Doug by Karma Wilson

These days, rhyming books aren’t necessarily in vogue. Apparently, editors and agents are tired of poorly rhyming stories. Like, if you write a children’s book that rhymes, you’d better know what you’re doing, because the rhyme needs to actually contribute to the story, not simply rhyme. And as the reader-out-louder in our house, I completely agree. I find it very annoying to stumble my way through a picture book when I read it to my kiddos. Those are the books I tuck behind the other books on the shelf.

However!

Some authors use rhyme in a stunning manner, and I sit back, awed. A Dog Named Doug is a pretty good example of great rhyme. I struggled a bit when Doug dug, but that’s pretty much the point of the book, eh?

Drawn Together by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat

Drawn TogetherAnother trend in the literary world is diversity. It’s a strong tidal wave these days, and I’m good with it. It’s neat to see perspectives from different people and cultures. In Drawn Together, a grandfather and grandson don’t speak the same language. After being dropped off, the grandson slinks around, eating a hot dog and French fries instead of his grandfather’s lunch of pork pho and starting awkward conversations, which the grandfather answers in an unreadable dialect. The book is largely wordless.

But then!

The grandson pulls out his sketchpad and markers. The grandfather lights up and rushes to bring his own paper and ink.

“Right when I gave up on talking, my grandfather surprised me by revealing a world beyond words. And in a FLASH–we see each other for the first time.”

And the duo have an adventure only explicable through art. Illustrator Dan Santat did an amazing job blending two art styles. It’s such a creative storytelling talent.

ryan t higginsWe Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

I’ve already declared my (platonic/professional) love for Ryan T. Higgins. I’ve also crowned him king of the picture-book page turn. The man can write a picture book, folks. I just love a picture book that makes me burst out laughing when I flip the page and take in the genius. It’s just adorable.

I enjoyed We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, but I’m not certain if Penelope the T. Rex has the same magic as Mother Bruce. It’s hard to beat a curmudgeonly bear forced into motherhood. Penelope, however, faces a different trial. She can’t resist eating her human classmates. It’s hard being a carnivore, y’all. When she gets a little “what goes around, comes around,” though, she finds a different perspective.

DoNotLickDo Not Lick This Book by Idan Ben-Barak

The full title of this book is “Do Not Lick This Book” with a little asterisk pointing to *It’s Full of Germs. Basically, it’s an interactive book that encourages small children to share germs. Just kidding! Kind of…

You first meet Min the microbe when you pick her up off the page. She then visits your shirt, teeth, and belly button, meeting new, germy friends along with way. The illustrations are super cute, but the super-magnified photos of teeth and skin cells? They creep me out a bit, to be honest. It’s a clever book, though, so worth a look.

Side Note: I have a wonderful mom-friend named Allison who decided she had to pack up her family and move home to California. Therefore I miss her like crazy. She is, however, a bit worrisome about germs. When I first discovered this book, I couldn’t resist sending her a copy. Now, I feel a bit bad because it’s a little icky and draws attention to the unseen world under (and in and on!) our noses. I did splurge for a brand-new copy of the book, though! I didn’t send her a second-hand one…

Do you have any kids’ books to recommend? Our to-be-read list at the library grows ever longer…

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