Why do I read picture books? Because they make me laugh and they are full of fantastic illustrations, of course. Also, it’s an easy evening’s entertainment to have an impromptu storytime while sipping cocktails before you settle in for dinner or break out Settlers of Catan. These have reduced my friends to abject hilarity, and if they can do that for the 30-somethings, imagine the impact on the under-7 set.
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
“Have you seen my hat?” “No. I haven’t seen your hat.” “Okay, thank you anyway.” This little book masters both deadpan delivery and a refreshing politeness of dialogue. The illustrations are spare and almost expressionless, but convey the bear’s distress beautifully. Another brilliant example of the age-old maxim: rabbits are trouble. It does not end well, but that’s part of the book’s delight.
Bunny days by Tao Nyeu
A sweet little set of stories about the harrowing adventures of a group of bunnies. Wonderfully illustrated, mild little tales, until you start to think about what it would actually mean to run a rabbit through a dryer or a sewing machine, at which point the giggles set in. Boy, those goats are so absent minded! And I love that the bear is always right at hand with whatever industrial implement will set the bunnies to rights.
Beware of the Frog by William Bee
William Bee is a strange and heartless storyteller, who captures the same kind of callous consequences as an un-Disneyfied Grimm’s fairy tale. This is the story of Mrs. Collywobbles (who is sweet and aged) and her merciless guardian frog. Don’t mess with it (unless you’re Mrs.Collywobbles), and maybe not even then. For more excellent William Bee humor, see the snarky and delightful Whatever.
Egg Drop by Mini Grey
“The egg was young. It didn’t listen. If only it had waited.” What happens when an ambitious egg decides it wants to fly? Oh yes, gravity wins. As you wait for the inevitable, contemplate the silly, slightly steampunk illustrations of chickens in goggles and eggs turned flying machine. Mini Grey is a master of textures, so her images make this simple story magical and hilarious.
The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers
Something about the bear with little stick legs just gets to me. There’s a bandit in the forest, removing tree branches. Recriminations abound between the peaceful woodland denizens, but after a hunt and a trial, the culprit is brought to justice. I can’t decide what disturbs me more: the casual maiming of trees, or the litigiousness of the woodland creatures; but I love the paper making apparatus and Oliver Jeffer’s engaging drawings.
~Jenny, Central Library