In general I prefer picture books with shorter texts that leave some things left unsaid for the illustrator and reader to fill in. This makes a book feel dynamic to me, like a fun, interactive game.
James Marshall’s George and Martha books tell the story of a very complex friendship between two hippos using hilarious, understated vignettes. Maurice Sendak wrote a fantastic article about Marshall for The New York Times.
My son and I LOVE I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. One of us reads the bear and the other reads the other animals in different voices. The humor derived from the badly behaving animals is inferred, so very young children and those with more concrete sensibilities may require some explanation – my mom is still resolute, “The bear did not eat the rabbit. He did NOT!” Fair enough. Innocent until proven guilty I suppose.
I almost failed second grade – my teacher and I had differing views of what constitutes a stimulating learning environment. I only recall two good days that year. The first was when I was allowed to listen to the audio recording of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. The second was when it was my turn to read aloud to the class, and I chose Morris’s Disappearing Bag by Rosemary Wells. When I got a little older I sent Ms. Wells a fan letter and she sent me back this picture of Morris, which still sits on my desk.