Picture Books with Bears

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach
In this story, an unknown narrator talks about the thievery of someone’s sandwich. A bear, after eating many basketfuls of berries, foolishly falls asleep in a truck. As a result, he is whisked away from the buzzing forest to a rumbling city. The bear’s new location is unfamiliar, but he repurposes it for temporary forest needs, that is, until the most delicious sandwich in the world catches his eye. The technique behind the art in this story is amazing…colorful, light, almost like watercolors, but not quite. From beginning to end this book was a joy to read…especially for that surprise ending. Continue reading “Picture Books with Bears”

Picture Books Focused on Food

Arnie the Doughnut by Laurie Keller
I fell in love with this book the moment I saw the cover. Picture books with tiny characters on page corners that make snarky, funny comments are my favorite. This story began by including that concept on its cover. The only downside is that the side characters can distract from the plot; I recommend reading the story first and the side comments later. The story builds on a hilarious and absurb premise: doughnuts are sentient beings who want to be chosen by humans that will eventually eat them. Arnie, although as alive as the other doughnuts, rebels from this true purpose. The journey of a doughnut from creation to a human’s mouth is descriptive, and the relationship between Arnie and his eventual human owner is heartfelt. The solution to the central conflict is funny and unexpected. I enjoyed this story from beginning to end, and hope that you will too. (Side Note: Arnie the Doughnut is also the central character of a popular juvenile fiction series.)
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Picture Books…with a Twist


A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

This recommendation came from one of my coworkers, who passed the book around to everyone working in the Central Youth and Family Services office. It does not have the type of art that usually draws me in, but it had a story that did. The plot is exactly what the title suggests. In a room with a hungry lion, many animals begin to disappear. The suspense builds to a sinister moment…and then something unexpected happens. The story is goofy, it uses suspense in surprising ways, and it makes good use of alliteration, repetition and black/blank pages. Before I read this book, my coworker gave me reading advice for this story that I thought was a spoiler. Since it ended up not being a spoiler, and instead just a keen observation, I am going to give the same advice to you: watch the turtle.

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds

Creepy Carrots knows how to set a mood. With black and white art, it is easy to tell this book wants to set a creepy, eerie tone. One of my coworkers recommended Creepy Carrots, and I definitely appreciate the suggestion because this book shows that young children’s literature and horror is a possible combination. Jasper Rabbit greedily eats masses of carrots from Crackenhopper Field. That changes when Jasper notices some of the carrots might be following him… What happens as Jasper reacts to the creepy carrots is shocking, and makes every moment of this book worth reading.

Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood

Interstellar Cinderella rhymes. Aside from the vocabulary, rhyming is the most notable feature of the book. Creative vocabulary choices include newly invented tools: cosmicalipers, ion tethers, googol gauges, Herschel converters, flux compressors and many more examples, found inside the story and on the inside cover pages. While it is obviously a Cinderella adaptation, the repurposing of the plot points are so clever that the inclusion of the Cinderella name is almost unnecessary. This Cinderella story is in outer space. Cinderella herself is a talented engineer who fixes spaceships. The art is fantastic and suitable for the science fiction environment. If you enjoy reading fairy tale adaptations, this story is weird in many places, but ultimately worth your time.

Interactive Picture Books

The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak
More than anything else, I wish I thought of this idea first. A picture book with no pictures is probably the only children’s story I could write due to my lack of artistic ability. Even so, it is fine that B.J. Novak thought of it before me; I was very impressed with how he used this concept. I incorrectly assumed there would be some sort of abstract art in the book: shapes, splotches, splashes of color. This book really is true to the title; it is only words. Nothing else. The words alone convey action in ways I rarely see in picture books. The physical words change fonts, styles, sizes and colors. Sound effects and nonsense words are cleverly utilized. The words contain a back and forth conversation, and it is clear who is speaking each time even though the narrators are never defined. This book, to my complete surprise, is one of the best children’s books I ever read. I hope to read it many times again.
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