Gifts of Picture Books

Josie Leavitt - October 23, 2016

As promised, I have an update on my earlier post about twelve weeks of picture books. The concept is simple: my best friend moved to Chicago and I am sending her roughly a picture book a week. Kim is an avid picture book reader, who moved without her books because her partner is still in their Vermont house awaiting its sale while Kim is in an rental apartment. What began as a simple idea about sharing some of my favorite picture books with my BFF has become a wonderful discussion about the power of picture books in the life of an adult. 
I’ve noticed a theme with the books I’ve chosen which was not conscious: friendship. So many picture books are about friends who accept each other for who they are with no expectation of wanting to change them. Toot and Puddle are very different. The cloud and the boy are quite different in Sector 7 and in Sleepover for Beatrice and Bear; Beatrice not only accepts bear’s need to sleep through the winter, but creates a journal for him to know what he missed.
Picture books are really all about friendship, acceptance and also relying on yourself. Perhaps that’s why they’re so important for young children to read. Sometimes we need to learn about friendship, and other times we need to just celebrate it. Then there are times we need to know that everything will be okay. Oliver Finds His Way is a favorite of mine and it’s all about little Oliver getting lost, getting found and appreciating what’s around him. A book on its way to Kim for this week is Mrs. Biddlebox, which strikes the perfect balance between giving into a bad mood and pulling yourself out of it without being preachy.
Kim is also a woman of ritual. And picture books get a special one. She does not rush through them when they first arrive, but rather looks at the cover, maybe sneaks a peak at a tiny bit of the art and then puts the book away. Then, only when she has the proper amount of time, good cheese on yummy bread and a glass of wine, does she read the book in earnest. Every time she does this, even if it means waiting until the weekend, this is how she reads her books. So the ritual becomes part of the book. I am not like that. I would read the book in the post office.
One of the things I have enjoyed the most about this twelve weeks of picture books is remembering so many of favorites that have come out in our twenty years. It is turning a lovely exercise for me as I prepare to retire from the store at the end of the year. After twenty years of absolutely loving bookselling, my professional heart is being pulled in a different direction. But to spend this much time with the books I’ve loved over the years and to share them with my friend feels like a perfect way to close out my bookstore time.

2 thoughts on “Gifts of Picture Books

  1. Cresson

    love it! Holly Hobbie’s Toot and Puddle books should top the list! I have given them in lieu of Make Way for Ducklings for second children or if McCloskey’s book is not available.
    Sharing books is the hallmark of friendship.

  2. Monica Carnesi

    What a great friendship you have! I can’t think of a better gift than picture books! Thank you for including Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear with your gifts.
    Wishing you all the best in your new adventure!


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