George and Martha by James Marshall
Houghton Mifflin Co., 1972
For your best friend: One of my favorite books of all time. "Five stories about two great friends." These five stories are short and sweet and oh so funny. My particular favorite is about split pea soup. Great read aloud and essential for any picture book library.
The Great Pie Robbery and Other Mysteries by Richard Scarry's
Random House, 1969-75
For the detective: Originally published in three volumes between 1969 and 1975, later reprinted into one storybook containing all three mysteries by Sterling Publishing in 2008. These stories are wonderfully silly, featuring the sleuthing duo Sam Cat and Dudley Pig, who run all over town looking for pie thieves, disappearing food, and Mrs. Pig's fabulous
pearl necklace. No picture book library is complete without at least one Richard Scarry book.
Press Here by Herve Tullet
Chronicle Books, 2011
For the reluctant reader: Have you walked into a bookstore recently and noticed someone shaking or flipping upside down the book they were holding, if so they were probably looking at Press Here. This book is wonderfully interactive and gets everyone to participate upon opening its cover. Truly this book is for everyone, but especially a reluctant reader. There is no story, just instructions for what to do. Tullet brilliantly turns a book into a toy.
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
Roaring Brook Press, 2011
For the gardener: This book was recently named one of the NYT best illustrated books of 2011. A beautifully illustrated story of old and new, past and present, love and loss all told through topiaries created by one boy's grandfather. I am a sucker for gatefolds in picture books and this one has a double gatefold that is simply lovely. This is a great book for young and old. One of my favorites for 2011.
Be Nice to Spiders by Margaret Bloy Graham
For the bug lover: This is one of my favorite books of all time! Spiders always get such a bad wrap. Now I'm not saying I want to let a hairy tarantula crawl up my arm, but I am one to let a daddy long leg live if only to get rid of the occasional bug in my house. We all have our purpose, which is exactly what this book is about. Even if you're a bit squeamish around spiders I promise you will enjoy this book.
The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child, Captured by Polly Borland
For the princess: Lauren Child is one of my favorite illustrators of all time. She has this amazing ability to capture all that it means to be a child in her illustrations. This edition of The Princess and the Pea was fabulously done using 3D miniatures created by Lauren and photographed by Polly. Each spread is like looking into a dollhouse window, pouring over and discovering every minute detail Lauren has added. I find new things every time I read it. This is an amazing book that not every princess will already have.
King Jack and the Dragon, Written by Peter Bently, Illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2011
For the adventurer: I love love love all things Helen Oxenbury. Her illustrations are wonderful! So of course her new book is on my list. Peter Bently's imaginative story about Jack, Zack, and Caspar is an adventurous romp into the wild, facing dragons and beasts, and conquering the backyard! A great suspenseful read aloud before bed.
Amanda & Her Alligator! by Mo Willems
Balzer + Bray, 2011
For the animal lover: I like to think of this as a modern day George and Martha because it is a picture book of short stories, six in all. Meet Amanda and her lovable, sometimes persnickety alligator, named Alligator. Alligator has a lot of opinions, which is why I love the character so much. This book has the charm of Willem's Leonardo the Terrible Monster and the humor of the Pigeon books. A perfect book for any child, boy or girl.
Time to Get Out of the Bath, Shirley by John Burningham
Random House, 1978
For the dreamer: As you can see I love British illustrators. John Burningham is no exception. He also happens to be married to Helen Oxenbury which makes me love him more. This book is one of my favorites of his. The entire book is about Shirley who goes to take a bath one night and slips down the drain on her rubber ducky only to encounter knights, a king and queen, and a jousting competition. On every spread the right side of the page shows Shirley on her adventure and on the left we see Shirley's mother waiting for Shirley to finish her bath. The perfect bath time book, well maybe after Pelly and Mr. Harrison Visit the Moon ;)
Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet
Houghton Mifflin, 2011
For the artist: This book involves three of my favorite things: Melissa Sweet illustrations, Thanksgiving, and the Macy's Day Parade. Another 2011 NYT Best Illustrated Book, Melissa Sweet's newest book tells the true story of Tony Sarg, the man who became the puppeteer behind the Macy's Day Parade. The artwork is absolutely stunning! A great non-fiction picture book for any creative child on your list.
I hope you enjoyed my list and maybe you'll pick up some of these books for those on your list this year. Remember, pictures books stay with you always, even when you finish growing up. I know I still remember ones I received as a kid.