The picture book lists are back! Melissa Guion starts the new series, and she’ll be followed very soon by Bob Shea.
Melissa is the author-illustrator of BABY PENGUINS EVERYWHERE! and the upcoming BABY PENGUINS LOVE THEIR MAMA! She lives in Brooklyn with her daughter and a few guinea pigs. You can see her work at www.melissaguion.com and www.facebook.com/BabyPenguinsEverywhere .
Here is her list:
FROG AND TOAD ARE FRIENDS: Arnold Lobel did many great books but this was the first one I owned. This book and Cricket Magazine sowed the idea of making books in my head, back in the 70s.
GEORGE AND MARTHA: George Marshall was a master of concision and is one of my favorite artists. Everything about this book is funny. Even his line is funny. Incidentally, a teacher of mine once said “the square (format) is deadly.” This book is a perfect counterexample. Now my first two books have square pages — this book may be the unconscious reason.
OUR ANIMAL FRIENDS AT MAPLE HILL FARM: I could list all the Provensens’s books. This is one of the liveliest ones, but I also love the lyrical ones like SHAKER LANE and A VISIT TO WILLIAM BLAKE’S INN. Alice Provensen’s PUNCH IN NEW YORK is great, too.
IN THE NIGHT KITCHEN: I had this book as a little girl, and can honestly say I didn’t think much about Mickey’s penis. I did obsess about how good it would feel to sink down in warm dough, or swim in cool milk, naked, all the time.
THE STRAY DOG: I lived two blocks from the George Washington Bridge when this book came out, and it’s set all around where I lived. I love the combination of looseness and design. And the sweetness of the humor – not many books today are so free of snark, knowingness, or cynicism. Also, Marc Simont almost 100 and still working? I can only hope.
THE STORY OF MRS LOVEWRIGHT AND PURRLESS HER CAT: I once told myself if I ever met Paul O. Zelinsky, I would tell him how much I loved his art for this book, but the first time I met him I was so excited I forgot. I told him the second time, and was happy to learn that it’s going back into print. This book is not about anything easy to describe. It’s full of humor and pathos, and I bet it leaves children thinking about everything Mrs. Lovewright doesn’t understand. It’s like empathy boot camp.
ELIZABETH IMAGINED AN ICEBERG: I love Chris Raschka’s work. I’d like to meet him in person. He doesn’t seem to go on the internet much, so he probably won’t know I’ve said that. Oh well. This is another book that’s not simple to explain. It’s about knowing when a situation is not right and protecting yourself. We all know someone — or something — like Madame Uff Da.
FATHER CHRISTMAS, by Raymond Briggs: This was one of my first picture books. My parents gave it to me when I was three. When I was little I loved looking at all the gorgeous details. As I got older I appreciated the dark humor. I can be very grumpy, but I hope I’m a somewhat likable grump, like Father Christmas.
THE THREE ROBBERS: I don’t know if there’s an illustrator stronger than Tomi Ungerer. I don’t know what else to say. That he could bring his sensibilities to bear in children’s books is a miracle.
CHOCOLATE: THE CONSUMING PASSION, by Sandra Boynton. I got this book for Christmas or something in 1982 because I loved chocolate. It’s hilarious, charming, and quite informative. And I’ll never forget the acknowledgement: “There are many without whom this book would have been impossible. There are many others without whom it would have been a heck of a lot easier.”