While voting on the Goodreads Best of 2016 lists this year, I realized I’ve read very few. Given that I noticed this in late November or early December there was not a lot I could do to alleviate the problem. The wait list for The Underground Railroad and Truly, Madly, Guilty and The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo are massive! I could, however, read all the picture books my library owned. And so I did.
My thoughts are as follows. Starting with the winner:
The Thank You Book by Mo Willems
I love Elephant and Piggie, I really do. I’m so sad they are leaving us. And while I think The Thank You Book is a sweet tribute to the readers of the series, it’s not my favorite of the bunch. However, We are in a Book! Is pretty hard to top.
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel, illustrated by T. Ryder Smith
The concept is great– everyone sees the same thing a bit differently. The illustrations are also wonderful. But, for whatever reason, it didn’t wow me like it did my coworker.
Are We There Yet? By Dan Santat
This is a very clever story about boring car rides and the passage of time. I especially enjoyed the use of the book itself (having to turn the book itself upside down).
What do you do with a Problem? By Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom
I’m torn, because I love the illustrations and the idea of facing problems is something kids should learn and discuss. I especially like that the problem is not named, so it can be anything.
However, it seems overly didactic to me. Not all problems affecting kids can be tackled as simply as this book implies.
Ida, Always by Caron Levis, illustrated by Charles Santoso
An absolutely beautiful story about friendship and and the loss of said friend. I cried.
A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers, illustrated by Sam Winston
My library doesn’t carry this book and I apparently am awful about remembering to pick up holds at non-work libraries.
Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke
A fun story about a goblin and other fairy tale villains. While not bad, it wasn’t anything special.
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts
This is another my library doesn’t carry, which is unfortunate, because I’m already loving the female scientist.
Otter Goes to School by Sam Garton
How did I not know about Otter until now? She’s adorable! I want an otter! I love the clever humor that’s fun for adults but still accessible to children. Also, the illustrations are amazing! To me it reads very much like Winnie the Pooh (which makes sense, Garton is also British).
We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
Not bad, but hard not to compare We Found a Hat to the previous I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat, which are delightfully dark.
Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
I absolutely love Alexie’s YA novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, but this is the only other piece I’ve read by him. This picture book about a boy who doesn’t like his name is a fun, relatable read. However, there are some criticisms, which are worth mulling over.
When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Julie Morstad
I love the illustrations! Many of the poems are wonderful.
I especially like “December 29.”
“and I woke/ to a morning/ that was quiet/ and white/ the first snow/ (just like magic) came/ on tiptoes/ overnight.
Worm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian, illustrated by Mike Curato
When I first started reading I was bored. The words are simple and so are the illustrations. However, as I kept reading, it struck me. This book is deep! It also subtly promotes acceptance of different sexualites and orientations and differences in general, without being “a teaching book.” The worms are what they are.
Snappsy the Alligator by Julie Falatko, illustrated by Tim Miller
This was by far my least favorite of the bunch. It felt like Falatko and Miller tried to be Mo Willems and failed. This type of humor is difficult to pull of successfully and breaking the fourth wall is oftentimes very confusing (unless you’re Mo Willems or William Goldman). Also, the illustrations were way too busy, with no clear focus.
School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson
I’ve already written about this picture book, but it’s seriously one of my favorites. Almost makes me want to go back to school. Also, I adore Christian Robinson’s collage like illustrations.
A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins
The title alludes to it all. Gotta love a dark picture book when it’s so tongue in cheek.
Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
This is a very sweet bed time story, but the best part is the diverse family. It’s just there. I love that it’s never mentioned because diverse families are everywhere and books with diverse families shouldn’t only be “issue books.”
Flora and the Peacocks by Molly Idle
Beautiful wordless picture book. The only issue I have (solely from a library point of view), is that those poor pull out pages will get destroyed. Other than that, the illustrations and dance tell a lovely story about sharing and friendship.
King Baby by Kate Beaton
Yet another (only three!) that I did not get my hands on.
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
I like that this book is based on true events, and the illustrations are very interesting (and very reminiscent of the original murals). However, the story is so-so.
The Ms. Elizabeth’s Libraryland winner? It’s hard to choose, because many are so wonderful. But, currently, my favorite is Ida, Always by Caron Levis, illustrated by Charles Santoso.