Book Chat

2nd Annual National Picture Book Month

Somehow, we’re halfway through November and halfway through National Picture Book Month!


Remember last year, when I took on Picture Book Month as my 30-day blogging challenge?  I blogged every day for 30 days, highlighting one of my favorite picture books to go along with the official website’s calendar… and optimistically vowed to do the same on an annual basis.

I must have blinked, because November is halfway over and there’s no way I can catch up.  To be fair, I’ve got a lot more going on this year (a full time job will do that).  But!  I didn’t want to ignore National Picture Book Month entirely.

Even though I’m no longer working in a school library, I still love children’s literature.  I’ve curbed my enthusiasm for expanding my collection, but I still read the ones I have on my bookshelves pretty often, and I’m always on the lookout for great new picture books.  I’ll always have an addiction to books!

This year the official website has a similar calendar, except that in addition to a theme for each day, a specific author is also honored.  Thirty book recommendations seem overwhelming for one post, so I cherry-picked a few days to showcase my very favorites and celebrate this month!

November 5/Around the World: Little Fox Goes to the End of the World, written by Ann Tompert and illustrated by John Wallner

This book hails from my late Grandma’s trunk of books she accumulated over her many years as a librarian.  Little Fox imagines travelling to the End of the World, and how she will conquer the many obstacles on the journey.  Fun story with great illustrations!

November 9/Music: Mama Don’t Allow, written and illustrated by Thacher Hurd

This is one of Sam’s favorite books from his childhood – his grandmother gave me a few of his favorites to keep.  Miles the badger loves playing loud music – which his mother doesn’t appreciate – so he plays his music for party of alligators in the swamp.  My favorite part is the vibrant illustrations with speech bubble dialogue.

November 10/Creativity: The Quilt Maker’s Gift, written by Jeff Brumbeau and illustrated by Gail de Marcken

A fairy tale about a selfish king who learns the secret of happiness from a quilt maker.  Whimsically detailed illustrations – the story and the pictures are the perfect complement.

November 14/Reading: Born to Read, written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Marc Brown

Before I started my first day as an elementary school librarian, the drama teacher bought me this book.  I used it as my read-aloud story the first week of school, and I’ll never forget it.  I could recite each rhyme by heart by the end of the week, along with questions and activities.  I even used the words “Readers win and winners read” as my official mantra of the year!

November 15/Nature: Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale, written by Sibylle Von Olfers and illustrated by Sieglinde Schoen-Smith

This version of the classic Swedish fairy tale features photographs of the intricately detailed quilt created by the Schoen-Smith.  The translation is gentle and sweet, following Mother Earth and her children as they prepare for each season.  The quilt is marvelous, and it’s amazing to see the details up close on each page.

November 17/Royalty: King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, written by Audrey Wood and illustrated by Don Wood

King Bidgood’s in the bathtub, and he won’t get out!   I remember my favorite teacher from the Elementary Ed program at MSU reading this book to demonstrate the power of a read-aloud.  She pointed out the repetitive rhymes that can make the book participatory, the soft illustrations with details that children can pick out, and how just plain fun it can be to read and share a good story.  So this book is a must for my personal collection.

November 20/Library: Library Lion, written by Michelle Knudson and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Sweet illustrations lend a vintage feeling to this funny story about a lion who visits the library.  He learns to follow the rules and becomes a welcome addition – and as a former librarian, I love the characters and the setting.

November 24/Sports: Score!: Fifty Poems to Motivate and Inspire, written by Charles Ghigna and illustrated by Julia Gorton

I found this book while attending a media specialist conference for professional development.  That one day a year was much appreciated – great talks by interesting authors, vendors with free goodies and new products, raffles and prizes, and collaborating with other local librarians.  The author signed by copy, and the short poems with catchy lessons are fun but not over-the-top.  I liked to throw a few into a library lesson, and the kids loved them.

November 30/Holidays: What-a-Mess and the Cat Next Door, written by Frank Muir and illustrated by Joseph Wright

I’ve actually blogged about this book before, but it’s such a favorite that I have to share again.  I won’t try to reword what I’ve already said before, so here’s a snippet:

The original What-a-Mess books were given to me by my Grandpop long before I remember, and every one of them (What-a-Mess, What-a-Mess the Good, & Prince What-a-Mess) was of the read-it-again-for-the-thousandth-time sort of book.  The characters are hilarious, and the illustrations are out-of-this-world funny and bizarre.  So for Christmas, What-a-Mess the puppy is tricked by the neighbor’s cat into replacing the family’s Christmas tree with the oak tree in the front yard.  Oh, is it funny.  And the illustrations are a trip.  Love this book.

Happy National Picture Book Month!  What’s your favorite picture book?

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