Picture Books

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.

Uri Shulevitz is a master of spare text. In his illustrations he utilizes empty space for maximum effect. Two of my favorites are Snow and One Monday Morning.

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.

In first grade I read Dr. Seuss almost exclusively. Though it is not one of his better known books, The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins may have seriously influenced my love of costumes.

photoI 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.

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