When I consider what I am passionate about, it really does make sense that my kick off post should be all about books. So without further ado, I present my top 13 picture books of 2013. It was a tough choice but here they are in no particular order:
Little Mouse's Big Book of Beasts
by Emily Gravett
I always love Emily Gravett's books because they are a little strange and always interactive. Little Mouse's Big Book of Beasts does not disappoint. In the spirit of Chester, Little Mouse has taken Gravett's book and made some changes of his own, to make the beasts just a little less scary. I really enjoy the attention to detail given to the variety of media used to alter the book, down to the bits of articles that can be seen on the newspaper clippings.
The Day the Crayons Quit
written by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
I have long been a fan of anything written or illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, and was delighted to be introduced to Drew Daywalt in this hilarious letter writing campaign straight from the crayon box. This book is by far the most requested book in our classroom and has inspired student writing over the last few months.
The Bathing Costume or The Worst Vacation of My Life
written by Charlotte Moundlic, illustrated by Olivier Tallec
This story of a boy's first vacation away from his parents brought back my own memories of going to the cabin with my grandparents. Charlotte Moundlic has captured the experience of a summer that ends with the feeling that you're just a little more grown up and a little braver than you were when it started. Beautifully written, this will become one of my top choices for books to read with my class both at the beginning and end of the year.
Written by Pat Zeitlow Miller, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
This book makes me smile even as I think about it now. A sweet tale of a girl and her root vegetable speaks highly of the power of imagination and the difficulty of letting go. Part of what I love about this book is the reaction of Sophie's parents as they watch their daughter become attached to something they know can't last.
On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein
written by Jennifer Berne, and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky
A look at the life of Albert Einstein in a way that inspires children to revel in their own wonderings. I found the story inspiring, in particular the way Jennifer Berne made a point of highlighting all the ways that Einstein was a little different. There were so many ways to connect to this book that each child is left seeing a bit of themselves in Albert Einstein.
by Alvaro F. Vila
There were many amazing wordless books published this year, but Alvaro's was the first I've seen that has a non-fiction feel to it. The story of a family who experiences the effects of a flood is very realistic. Alvaro F. Vila is able to convey the fear of having to leave quickly, the heartbreak of losing a home and the hope of rebuilding.
written by Samantha Berger, illustrated by Dan Santat
I chose this one because we all have a little bit of Crankenstein in us. Dan Santat manages to perfectly capture both the facial expression and body language of a Crankestein that I know personally. Samantha Berger gives children the opportunity to see themselves in the story while showing them hope that life is not always crank inducing.
In the Tree House
written by Andrew Larsen, illustrated by Dušan Petričić
A story of brotherly love and reconnecting. This is the first of two of my Canadian picks for top picture books. Andrew Larsen takes a simple event, a black out, and uses it to provide two boys with the time and space to come together again. Dušan Petričić's clean ink drawings and reduction of colour help to put the story in focus.
The Beginner's Guide to Running Away From Home
by Jennifer Larue Huget
Between the awe inspiring art work and the relate-able "how to" feel of this book, there was no doubt it would make it onto the list. The pictures are a mix of media and supports the stories combination of reality and imagination. Jennifer Larue Huget takes us through the stages of running away from home, complete with snacks and packing tips.
If You Hold a Seed
by Elly MacKay
This has definitely been a year where mixed media illustrations have been highlighted and well executed. My second Canadian choice shows this in layered drawings and varied perspectives. Elly MacKay takes the story of a seed's life and explores it in simple text and stunning visuals that inspire.
Follow Follow: A book of Reverso Poems
written by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse
Marilyn Singer's brilliant Reverso poetry returns in this book. Her reversible poetry not only makes sense forwards and backwards, but is well written. A great way to get kids interested in poetry and to make them say "Whoa!".
written by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Joy Ang
This book brings out the desire in people of any gender, to slap on a mustache and debate whether it is a good-guy mustache or a bad-guy mustache. Another student favourite, Bridget Heos' book had me laughing out loud in the middle of the book store, and then itching to make my own mustache.
written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
The team of Rosenthal and Lichtenheld have done it again, creating a puny and clever look at this always loved and sometimes overused punctuation. While a great connection for students and writing, this book also holds its own simply as an entertaining read-a-loud.