Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Year of Picture Books 2013

I love reading picture books. This year, I made it a point to read not just any picture book, but the latest (within the last 2 years). Today's total came to 186 picture books read in 2013.

Within this list, I compiled my top favorite picture books published in 2013. Here they are in no particular order:

Author/Illustrator: Benjamin Chaud
Chronicles, 2013

The Bear's song, written and illustrated by Benjamin Chaun, is a beautifully written story with lovely language and mesmerizing artwork. The illustrations reminds me of the I Spy and Finding Waldo books with its details. The Bear's Song is a story about a bear searching for his cub, but winds up in an opera house. What's a bear to do? What bears do best- sing! An endearing story about father-son love with a surprise that will make your own heart sing. 

This book was first published in France in 2011 under the title Une Chanson d'ours. A clear classic that will stand the test of time.

Author/Illustrator: Mike Boldt
Harper Collins 2013
123 versus ABC is a humorous book about number one and letter A competing as the star attraction. This is a modernized version of the traditional alphabet and number book that's called metafiction- a story referring to itself as a book, which pulls the reader into a world that crosses the line between reality and fantasy. It's a wonderful story of compromise that's fresh and brilliant. Who doesn't love a robot wearing a sombrero? The fun read-aloud and bright, animated illustrations add to the silliness that makes this a great book for the evolving young reader. 

Author: Aaron Reynolds
Illustrator: Dan Santat
Chronicle Books, 2013

I adore this book! Aaron Reynolds did a fantastic job of instilling in our hearts the importance of self appreciation and also the fact that sometimes others can be misunderstood in a hilarious way. I love that he used the "top of the food chain" as examples. Dan Santat did an excellent job of conveying the emotions of the characters through his brilliant, artistic talent. The author-illustrator combo is a dynamic duo! 

A small note of warning: Not ideal for the sensitive reader. A few characters do get hurt in the story-telling of this book. On a side note, it makes for good discussion and lesson about ecology and the nature of things.

Author/Illustrator: Peter Brown
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013

I love this book! Mr. Tiger is a proper gentleman in an upscale town living a classy life until Mr. Tiger decides he no longer wants to walk on two feet. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is a clever story that tells us that it's okay to be yourself no matter what others think of you. I love that when Mr. Tiger returns to the city he finds a pleasant surprise. The illustrations are also brilliant starting out of monotones and gradually transforming to a life of color as the story develops. This is a wonderful read with excellent pacing and the right amount of humor.

Illustrator: Mark Pett
Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013

I'm not really a fan of wordless picture books, but The Boy and the Airplane, which had a nostalgic feel to it, spoke to me.  It was like watching an old black and white film but in sepia tone. This story follows the growth of a boy who has lost his airplane up on a rooftop and tries to retrieve it. The ending is sweet and endearing. This falls under the category of timeless picture books that begs to be passed on to generations. 

Author: Drew Daywalt
Illustrator: Oliver Jeffers
Philomel, 2013

Author: Jason Carter Eaton
Illustrator: John Rocco
Candlewick Press, 2013

Everything you wanted to know about trains:
Where to find one
How to catch a train
Finding the perfect train for you
Getting to know your train
Training your train

This is a hilarious read for the young and old. A great gift for the train lovers. 

Author: Julie Fogliano
Illustrator: Erin E. Stead

I just adore Julie Fogliano's poetic language that is soothing to the reader. When you read If You Want to See a Whale, you'll notice no punctuation marks are used other than the three ellipses near the end. I find that so artistic in that it creates a flow of language that is fluid and dreamy. If you want to see a whale, you'd think the story is telling you that you need to ignore everything around you and concentrate, but au contraire! In fact, this story cleverly suggests the opposite. You'll find yourself amused by the little things in life that are made more beautiful in this wonderful book. Erin E. Stead does an amazing job complimenting the text with soft colors and gentle art. A great story about embracing the moment.

Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: James Burks
Aladdin, 2013

My boys and I enjoyed this book immensely. What's not to love about a Monstore. I have 2 monsters on layaway now! Tara Lazar's language and word choice are superb. The Monstore makes a fun read aloud. Illustrator, James Burks, did an outstanding job of bringing the characters to life. Kids will have a field day thinking of the monsters they'd like to have. It may even encourage them to create monsters of their own and let their imagination soar. I can see this as a cartoon movie coming to a theater near you! 

So there you have it. My all time favorite books read and published in 2013. What's yours? Feel free to share in the comments below. 

I can't wait to see what's in store for 2014!  HAPPY NEW YEAR!


  1. Thanks so much for a list of 2013 picture books that ROCK! I've made a list of all but the three that I already own (Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Monstore and The Day the Crayons Quit). I'm off to the library website right now to see if I can get them.
    Congrats on so many picture books's heaven to surround oneself with a sea of beautiful illustrations and awesome text!
    Happy New Year, Romelle...I'm looking forward to an exciting 2014 in this kid lit community!

    1. It was fun. There were so many great books. I'm sure there are other 5 star books I haven't read yet, too.

  2. Thank you so much for including The Monstore in your top picks of 2013! I'm honored!

    1. My pleasure, Tara! Your book was an easy selection for me. LOVED IT!

  3. Cool! Definitely checking out the ones I haven't read! :D

  4. As if you don't have enough to read already. :)

  5. Great list! I think i have a How to Train your Train poster laying around this disaster of a writing nook somewhere...under this cow puppet...or by this list of gastric synonyms ... or under this pile of critiques not yet revised.... If I ever find it I'll have to send it your way!



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