Twelve Weeks of Picture Books

Josie Leavitt - October 4, 2016

One of my closest friends just moved to Chicago from Vermont. Her move, while permanent, has an odd feeling of temporariness to it because she didn’t move with her partner, who will join her once they sell their Vermont house. So, my friend Kim is living in a condo with very little furniture and none of her children’s books. She doesn’t have an enormous collection, but the books she has, she loves. As a book person, it saddens me that she doesn’t have books with her, especially as we head into Halloween and the holidays, which are her favorite times for savoring a picture book. So, what I want to do is send her a book a week, roughly twelve weeks of books through Christmas, and I need suggestions from our readers.Adults who love picture books are a special breed of reader. They are in touch with childhood wrappedbookwhimsy yet have a sophistication that can make choosing a book to introduce to an adult challenging. Yes, the art needs to be stunning, but can be playful. The story needs to have some oomph to it while not being heavy-handed. This whole idea has made me really think about my favorite picture books and why they resonate with me.
Her love of picture books became clear to me one day when we working together at the Pride Center of Vermont and somehow we started talking about Toot and Puddle. There are very few adults who love that book as much as I do, and Kim is one of them. The beauty of Toot and Puddle is the gorgeous art and the sweetness of the relationship between these two best friend pigs. I dare say, that I find this to be a near perfect book, as does Kim. She has all the books in the series, so getting her those won’t work for this twelve weeks of books.
Sector 7 is another beloved book for me for several reasons. It’s the first wordless picture book I fell in love with. The story is a simple one about a boy making friends with a cloud and what ensues from that. And the art, well, it’s just stunning. Every time I sell that book in the store I see something I’ve missed. This was the first book I sent as part of the twelve weeks of books and it was met with delight.
As this idea progresses, I will give an update or two about how the books have been received. So, readers, what other books would you include in this? What are your top picture books to share with adults?

19 thoughts on “Twelve Weeks of Picture Books

  1. Nora

    Two of my favorites are A House in the Woods by Inga Moore and A Story for Bear by Dennis Haseley. Beautiful illustrations in both along with good stories. I also have a soft spot in my heart for the “Little Whistle” books by Cynthia Rylant about a guinea pig who comes to life after the toy store closes. And I totally agree with you about Toot & Puddle!!

    1. Susan Savory

      I, too, am that adult who has a deep love of picture books! A few of my favorites (mostly new) … Moonhorse by Mary Pope Osborne (newly reissued in HC!) The Day I Became a Bird by Ingrid Chabbert. The Girl With the Parrot on Her Head by Daisy Hirst. They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel. Abigail the Whale – Davide Cali. The Moon Inside – Sandra Feder. Out next week – Cat Knit by Jacob Grant and A Hat for Mrs Goldman by Michelle Edwards (would make a great double present!) A VERY special one – Some Writer by Melissa Sweet…and of course ANYTHING with illustrations by Isabelle Arsenault or Lisbeth Zwerger or Andrea D’Aquino – (especiallly her Alice in Wonderland!)

  2. Janet Mann

    Colin Thompson’s wonderful ‘The violin man’ and ‘Looking for Atlantis’ and ‘The paperbag Prince’ are favourites for me – stunning artwork, full of detail, and stories which have everything a story needs, for any age. Beautiful, beautiful books.

  3. Pam Matthews

    I’m a Mo Willems fanatic, myself, with a special fondness for Knuffle Bunny…although I’m more like Pigeon.

  4. Tim

    If your friend is missing the country while getting used to the city, either of Laurel Croza’s picture books (illustrated by Matt James) might help: I Know Here is about growing up in rural Saskatchewan, and From There to Here is about her family’s move from there to big city Toronto. Really lovely, lyrical prose and wonderful illustrations.

  5. Carrie

    Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown. Wonderful art, and a story that definitely resonates with adults who find life a little too orderly sometimes.
    I also highly recommend the Zoom books by Tim Wynne-Jones, although I think they’re out of print – there was a collected edition published in 2009 which was really lovely.

  6. Eleanor Miller

    Interesting that you should raise this question JUST as I’m assembling a birthday package for my dear paraplegic brother’s milestone 80th birthday and had decided to add a children’s book…a (still) golden oldie…to my gifting. It has been my go-to staple for very special friends and loved ones for at least forty years. The book I have in mind (thankfully still in print) is Sandol Stoddard Warburg’s “I Like You” with illustrations by Jacqueline Chwast. It’s a little jewel of a book…perhaps no bigger than 4-5″ by 4-5″…with text that is both heartfelt and sweet without being cloying and utterly delicious pictures.

  7. Barbara

    For sheer joy nothing beats Stellaluna by Janell Cannon. And for sumptuous illustrations, The Mitten by Jan Brett.
    I could ramble on for ages but those two always stand out as bringing a smile to my face and buoyancy to my heart.

  8. Taylor

    I get endless joy from the whimsical cadences and dreamlike, mystical art of “When the Sky is Like Lace” by Elinor Horowitz (illustrated by famed “Miss Rumphius illustrator” Barbara Cooney); from the overemphasized (but all too realistic) calamities of childhood in “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst; and from the subtle, dark humor of “I Want My Hat Back” by Jon Klassen.

  9. Dan Elasky

    Mimmie and Sophie. A wonderful picture about a 5-year-old girl and her 3-year-old little sister. An underpublicized gem.

  10. Pat

    The Story of the Jumping Mouse by John Steptoe, The Polar Express, Monster Mama by Liz Rosenberg, illustrated by Stephen Gammell, Stella Star of the Sea by Marie-Louise Gay, The Arrival by Shaun Tan; The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock, illustrated by Mary Grandpre to name a few.

  11. Lona

    What To Do With a Box ? by Jane Yolen and Chris Sheban is perfect for the Holidays. Not only is it a gift to read, it inspires a child, or adult 🙂 with creativity to do something with those magical gift-containers we’re bound to collect over the next few months, the box!


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