If you’re on Goodreads you know that the annual voting is going on for the best books of 2013. There are many categories for adult reading, plus a few children’s categories, including picture books. In the first round of voting there were many picture books we had read and I asked the kids which they would vote for. Their top picks (from the choices) were Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great, The Day the Crayons Quit, and The Matchbox Diary (totally shocked by this choice, I was surprised my daughter even remembered it!) I voted for The Day the Crayons Quit. Of the books we had not read I put several on hold, knowing nothing about them, and last night we read Journey by Aaron Becker.
There’s a wonderful anticipation when you look at a book and don’t know what it contains. With this we had the title “journey”, and wondered what kind of journey we were about to go on. And I have to say, from the moment we opened it and looked at the first page, our attention was captured. We loved this. Part Harold and the Purple Crayon, part Polo, a tiny glimpse of steampunk for me. This was a beautiful wordless story that flowed quite wonderfully. A bored girl in a drab palette finds a red crayon, draws a door, and goes through. Is there anything more wonderful than that concept? So full of promise, the unknown, who knows what. In that world she has a few Harold moments where she needs to draw an escape mechanism, but when the crayon is lost and she is trapped, how will she get out? The ending of this gives you a wonderful “A-ha!” moment that sent us running back to the first page to notice some details. From the youngest to the oldest in our family, we all really loved this story.
After the classy and enchanting Journey, we read Don’t Say That Word! by Alan Katz, illustrated by David Catrow, which was a complete change of pace. In fact we read it two times, with much shouting of “don’t say that word!” the first time through, and then saying the word you’re not supposed to say the second time through. In a retelling of his day, a boy describes everything in a a 4 line rhyming paragraph. It’s always clear what the final word is supposed to be, but his mom always shouts “don’t say that word!” before he can say burp, fart, poop, barfed, etc. Super silly and fun.
I really think Amy Krouse Rosenthal is one of the most clever authors around-Spoon, Chopsticks, Duck! Rabbit!--they’re all so clever, simple, and funny. Her newest with Tom Lichtenheld is Exclamation Mark. Or, should I say, Exclamation Mark! Exclamation mark hangs out with a bunch of periods and feels like he doesn’t fit in it. He sticks up, he stands out, he just isn’t the same. This makes him super mopey. One day a new guy comes along-question mark. And, in brilliantly simple fashion-everything question mark says is a question! Question mark is a total chatterbox and peppers with Exclamation with a barrage of nonstop questions until finally he yells STOP! An exclamation! And it feels good and right, so he tries out some other exclamations, which are also great. And how do you think the periods respond? With simple statements, of course. Terrific!