It’s my favorite event of the year! Susan Bloom, Simmons College Children’s Literature professor and Horn Book reviewer, annually picks her best picture books of the year and shares them with us here at The Carle. If you missed last Saturday’s event, don’t worry! We’ll share with you the coveted list below. Susan Bloom shows us it’s clear by the gems published in 2010 that the picture book most certainly is not dead. In fact, these picture books are alive and well, bursting with color, imagination, and innovation. Need proof? Just pick up one of these amazing new books and see for yourself!
1. Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes by Salley Mavor
You will not believe the intricate craftsmanship that went into the creation of these amazing multimedia illustrations. Elaborately embroidered felt, wood, stones and beads all work to create these beautifully natural and unique illustrations for familiar nursery rhymes.
2. All Things Bright and Beautiful by Ashley Bryan
Ashley Bryan illustrates Cecil F. Alexander’s beloved hymn with his classic bright cut paper collage – uniting colors, animals and people of all shades into a beautifully stylized book.
3. The Tree House by Marije and Donal Tolman
One of my personal favorites, this wordless book features whimsical watercolor illustrations about unlikely creatures who cohabit a tree house and the slightly surreal and highly imaginative community they form together.
4. Little Black Crow by Chris Raschka
Caldecott medalist Chris Raschka’s newest book has a meditative and contemplative quality with inky, zen-like illustrations in his classic minimalist style.
5. Snook Alone by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
Ering is a master at capturing personality, humor and pathos in this touching medieval tale of a monk and his dog.
6. Chalk by Bill Thomson
This wordless book is a very fun exploration of imagination, as three children’s chalk drawings come magically to life. A book reminiscent of Jumanji with illustrations so real, you’d swear they were photographs.
7. My Garden by Kevin Henkes
In the style of Old Bear and A Good Day, Henkes explores a girl’s imagination in her garden, growing everything from seashells to candy.
8. Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature’s Survivors by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Becky Prange
The creators of Caldecott Honor book Song of the Water Boatman are back with another beautiful book of fact-filled, scientific poems. The creative design and typography help this book take poetic flight.
9. Dave the Potter by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier.
This amazing true story of the need for beauty and art is told in dignified poetic text and stunning cut-paper collage.
10. The Boy in the Garden by Allen Say
In this take on a Japanese folktale, Say transports us to a garden of powerful imagination, walking the fine line between fantasy and reality.
11. Mirror by Jeannie Baker
Perhaps the most innovative picture book of the year, this book has two fully illustrated stories about two families – one in Australia and one in North Africa, told in both English and Arabic – and is designed to be read at the exact same time. Together the stories show how shared family experiences, even from across the globe, unite and shrink a very big world.
12. Shadow by Suzy Lee
Lee is a master of using every element of the book – from the book’s gutter to its endpapers. Similar to Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, this book explores immense imagination and physical challenge.
13.Bunny Days by Tao Nyeu
Tao Nyeu’s retro artwork gives the feel of a rural classic while still being very modern. Three short stories feature fun and inventive solutions to the tiny bunnies’ problems.
14. The Rabbit Problem by Emily Gravett
Other bunnies have problems too! This clever story illustrated through a monthly calendar explores a year in the life of a rabbit and is uniquely multi-layered and multi-faceted, equipped with extra fold out documents like letters and newspapers a la The Jolly Postman.
15. Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems
This concluding book of the Knuffle Bunny series is the best of the three. A satisfying and touching finale that deals with the joys and pains of growing up.
16. April and Esme Tooth Fairies by Bob Graham
The ridiculous is believable and winsome in this funny, modern tooth fairy tale.
17. It’s a Book by Lane Smith
This tongue-in-cheek masterpiece of typography and design highlights the importance of books in an increasingly technological world.
18. How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills
This sweet story of learning to love reading is the right blend of humorous and earnest.
19. How to Clean a Hippopotamus by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
Husband and wife team up to illustrate unusual mutual animal partners in nature, with Jenkins’ characteristic tactile paper collage and lots of interesting facts.
20. Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca
Another book about collaboration, this American pioneer tale showcases three great artists with crisp and patient sentences and vivid watercolors.
21. Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile
These rolicking three tales of friendship are filled with zippy dialogue, friendship and compromise.
22. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead
Another tale of friendship between a zookeeper and zoo animals is sweet and quiet with a subdued palette and bright bursts of personality and individuality.
23. The Boys by Jeff Newman
Retro style illustrations with contemporary sensibilities tell the humorous story of a shy boy trying to fit in and eventually gaining confidence.
24. Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
This book is a storyteller’s dream, filled with giggle-worthy humor as on each page, a cake is robbed of an ingredient.
25. Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie
You’ll love the enormous personality of the starstruck, ambitious dog, Biff, who brings energy and vitality to this story of defying the odds.
26. The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
This unique biography of Mark Twain told from the point of view of his daughter is beautifully designed, with bold, playful illustrations and mini journals bound into the book featuring excerpts from Susy’s actual diary.
27. Dust Devil by Anne Isaacs, illustrated by Pau O. Zelinsky
This sequel to Caldecott Honor book, Swamp Angel, is a giant book of tall tales. Oversized in format, it’s packed with a variety of layouts and an amusing multi-layered narrative featuring further adventures of favorite characters.
29. Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
A calming story of a mother-daughter bond overcoming the anxiety of anticipating a new baby.
30. There’s Going to be a Baby by John Burningham and Helen Oxenbury
This talented husband and wife team unite for this delightful tale of wondering what mischief and companionship a new baby will bring. Poster-like paintings of elegant simplicity are juxtaposed with panels of digital art that are reminiscent of Maurice Sendak and Crocket Johnson.
If you’d like to print out a copy of Susan’s list or see her lists from previous years, click here. You can also see last year’s 2009 list featured on our blog here. What picture books were your favorites this year?