This is the second half of Jane’s holiday recommendations. For Part One, click here.
And now a handful of outstanding picture books, because I cannot choose just one (ever!).
- Sidle on up, pardner, for a hilarious Wild West caper by the outlaw author/illustrator duo Bob Shea and Lane Smith. Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads *begs* to be read with a western drawl. Not for the faint of heart, in this story you’ll find some cattle-kissin’, gold stealin’, and chili insultin’ criminal minds. But never fear, hope (in the form of the smallish kid sheriff cum paleontologist with the ten gallon hat) rides into town– “Slowly. On a tortoise. Give him a minute.” Soon you will be laughing yourself silly, listening to the kid sheriff outwit those terrible toads. Even my 15 year old son giggled when I brought this one home.
- Author/comedian B.J. Novak, better known as the executive producer of the TV series The Office, has written a gem of a kind-of picture book called The Book With No Pictures, and — guess what — it actually has no pictures (so can it still be called a picture book?!). However, the words do not sit quietly on the page, and the reader is quickly duped into a shared reading transaction — for one must read whatever the words on the page say, no?Herein starts a silly romp that will delight young listeners. Clever, ridiculous, even over the top — it’s just what little ears crave. Although the closing pages beg the implied child reader to “please please please please / please / choose a book with pictures” for subsequent reading, it’s likely that this request will be ignored!
Two beautiful picture books that should grace everyone’s shelves this season are by artists who happened to move into writing picture books, and we are grateful for it.
- Deirdre Gill was born and raised in Middlebury, VT. After studying art at Syracuse University she went to work for one of the best children’s bookstores in America, Books of Wonder in NYC. She got to rub elbows with all kinds of aspiring and published writers and editors while working there and she also met her future husband, the amazing author/illustrator Jason Chin. They have since moved back to Vermont and Dierdre’s first book, Outside, was just published this fall.A quietly beautiful book that ignites the imagination, Outside follows a little boy who longs for attention from his family and upon being ignored, he decides to pull on his winter gear and head outside where he enters an enchanting, magical world of castles and snow creatures that elevates his spirits. Pretty soon his brother is playing by his side. You can’t help but feel that magical wintry feeling every time you turn the page. I can’t wait for more books from Deirdre.
- Do you think you have enough alphabet books in your life already? Well, you don’t have one like Once Upon An Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers. Every letter gets its own short story — each one is surprising and quirky with a hint of Seussian flair. Jeffers knows how to catch the attention of his young audience while challenging their imagination, intellect, and vocabulary. The artwork is spare and whimsical, and the 26 stories weave in and out of one another, creating a cohesive exploration of language.
And lastly, I’d like to mention, if you happen to be in Montpelier, stop on by Bear Pond Books and support CLiF by purchasing a children’s book (at a 15% discount) that will go straight into the hands of a child. We’ve already filled two boxes worth of books!
I wish your long, cozy nights are filled with the joy of reading. Cheers!
Jane Knight is the children’s book buyer for Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, VT.