Everyone loves Picture Books

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Picture Book Month has taken off! Picture books have a great unifying power. Even if you are no longer an avid reader, or you have just one genre that floats your boat, I think we all have fond memories of some picture books from when we were little. Picture books also unite the generations. How exciting that across the world we can join to celebrate an art form that is very much alive this November. You can stir your own creative juices by signing up for the Picture Book Idea Month (today is the last day to sign up at Tara’s site if you want some prizes). I also highly recommend checking out daily the Picture Book Month site, initiated by Dianne de las Casas, which has just been launched. There will be “essays by picture book authors and illustrators, including Jane Yolen and Dan Yaccarino. The site will include links to picture book resources, authors, illustrators, and kidlit book bloggers, as well as a theme calendar and picture book activities.”

As I am still working through my There’s a Book Read to Me Picture Book challenge, I thought I would add # 98-101 here. I can’t believe I have reviewed almost 100 books so far and none yet from one of my PB heroes, Mo Willems. Mo has won six Emmies and Caldecott Honors for “Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus’ and “Time to Pee”.  Here is an adaptation of Mo Willems’s 2011 Zena Sutherland Lecture, which he delivered on May 6, 2011, at the Chicago Public Library. From the November/December 2011 issue of the Horn Book Magazine.

The Pigeon finds a Hot Dog!

An economy with words, is one of Mo’s many skills as an author/illustrator. Just to prove my point I added them up here and in less than 200 words, Mo recounts this hilarious exchange between Pigeon and Duckling. Mo captures the world of  young children so succinctly. Pigeon finds a tasty hot dog and is about to tuck in when a hungry little duckling arrives on the scene. With pictures of ONLY the two birds and a hot dog and this sparse text, Mo shows us a typical recess encounter between two kids, one of whom wants the other kid’s snack. Brilliant!

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed

This is a spoof on how funny kids can get around the word naked/bare. The Mole rat community is a naked community and on discovering that a member of their group, Wilbur, actually liked to dress, their response is unanimous “Eeeeeewwww”, “Yuck!”. To try and enforce group conformity on Wilbur, they seek the opinion of wise, old Grand-pah, who turns out to be mighty wise indeed!  Individuality is celebrated in this, one of my favorites of Mo’s books.

Edwina, The Dinosaur Who didn’t know she was Extinct

You can’t miss her; Edwina has a straw hat, a string of pearls, a small handbag and painted claws! She is a dinosaur loved by the entire town for her kindness to all. Well I say everybody loved her, they all did except an over-confident, young boy, named Reginald Hoobie-Doobie (be honest, you love that name as much as I do!). Reginald employs well-researched lessons and argument-laden flyers, among several other strategies, to prove the extinction of dinosaurs. No one takes any notice, until he has the audacity to present his logic to Edwina herself. I’ll let you read how she reacts. There seem to be several layers of themes to this book. I do not think Mo I trying  to persuade kids to abandon logic, but rather to enjoy belief. Kindness and friendship are also touched upon. If you get to read this to a child who knows Mo’s books well, you can have a lot of fun looking out for Pigeon and Knuffle Bunny among the illustrations.

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24 Responses to Everyone loves Picture Books

  1. Three Mo Willems books that I haven’t read yet? oh dear. and thank you!

    Picture Book Month and Picture Book Idea Month are definitely two reasons to celebrate in November. What great ways to enliven the dull days of this often grey month.

  2. Patricia Tilton says:

    I just saw two of the Willems books you reviewed in the bookstore — but haven’t read them. Nice comments. I’m glad you reached your book goal — and you ended with your hero, Mo Willems!


  3. Yay! you reached your Reading/Reviewing goal, go you girl! Loved this books in this post.
    Reginald Hoobie-Doobie, cool name….hehe.

  4. Susanna says:

    Mo Willems is a genius 🙂 I haven’t read all of his books, but one of my favorites is a newer one – Amanda And Her Alligator. As a picture book writer myself, how can I not love a month devoted to them! Yay picture books! And did you read the article in School Library Journal this week? It’s on my Face Book page if you’re interested, and has an interesting perspective on where picture books may be headed – an excellent direction if you ask me!

    • Joanna says:

      Susanna, the article by Anita Silvey was so inspirational! I hope it is read by many! I too, love Amanda and Her Alligator. I didn’t realize quite how large his repertoire is. Many have been translated too.

  5. Congrats on the goal. It is interesting when you type out a PB and see how few words tell the story. Brilliant.

  6. A friend of mine read “The Pigeon finds a hotdog” to her niece when she went to visit her in Brooklyn last month, and I swear she hasn’t stopped talking about how much she loved that book. I think she was more into it than the four year old! I’ve heard the entire plot about a dozen times.

  7. Joanna says:

    There’s no doubt that Mo’s books appeal to adults s well, Gail. I often put Knuffle Bunny on my coffee table as it can get adults rolling around on the floor!

  8. Oh, The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog is my FAVORITE of favorites of Mo Willems’ books. He is just pure genius.

    I love your reviews, so I hope you keep them coming even after the Read to Me challenge is completed.

  9. Gwen Gardner says:

    I’m not really up on what’s new in picture books, but reading to my daughter when she was little was a nightly occurrence that we both loved! The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! sounds awesome. What talent to write a whole book in 200 words, even if it is a picture book!

  10. Laurie says:

    You can’t go wrong with Mo!! We haven’t read the Naked Mole one- heading over to the library site to see if it is available. 🙂

  11. LadyInRead says:

    All three books sound great. Have to yet read these Mo Willem’s books.

  12. Heidi Grange says:

    Mo Willems never ceases to amaze me. His books are loved by children and with good reason. He seems to understand them so well. From what I’ve seen and heard, this may well be because he has never quite grown up himself. 🙂

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