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100 Scope Notes
Inside 100 Scope Notes

The Wildest Children’s Books of 2013

I tend to think we are in the midst of a great period of creativity in children’s books. In many ways, there seems to be a loosening of the tie, with unexpected combinations of illustration, text, and design popping up all over the place. Below are a few 2013 books that had me saying “huh?!” in the very best of ways.

Click here for the Wildest Children’s Books of 2012

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Little Ghost Party by Jacques Duquennoy

ABRAMS | August 20, 2013

It’s dance party time and Little Ghost is playing host. He invites all his friends to join in the fun.

Why it’s Wild: One word: chains. Duquennoy incorporates thin chains into his illustrations, allowing the reader to tilt the book to create different motions and moods. It’s a board book, sure, but it’s the sort of inventiveness that will delight anyone who picks it up. I really wish there was a video for this one so you could see it in action.

*Update* Ask an you shall receive! The folks at ABRAMS made a video for this book:

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The Hole by Øyvind Torseter

Enchanted Lion Books | September 10, 2013

A man/creature finds a hole next to the door in his apartment. He can’t explain it. Maybe the local laboratory can?

Why it’s Wild: We’ve all seen die cuts before, but few like this. A single small hole runs through the entire book, moving into and out of the story.

Open This Little Book The Wildest Childrens Books of 2013

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Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier; illustrated by Suzy Lee

Chronicle Books | January 1, 2013

A cast of animal characters lead the way as the reader is encouraged to open a series of smaller and smaller books.

Why it’s Wild: A book within a book within a book within a – you get the idea.

Topsy Turvy The Wildest Childrens Books of 2013

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Topsy Turvy World by ATAK

Flying Eye Books | July 2, 2013

If Salvador Dali made a picture book, it might look like this. In this surreal world, everything is the opposite of what you’d expect.

Why it’s Wild: Each page presents a bizarro version of reality, where horses jockey jockeys, babies feed grown-ups, and butterflies net kids. I’m working on a theory: the fewer the letters in a picture book creator’s name, the higher the chances he/she makes wild books.

 The Wildest Childrens Books of 2013

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Battle Bunny by Mac Barnett and Jon Scieszka; illustrated by Matthew Myers

Simon & Schuster | October 22, 2013

A boy takes a saccarine bunny story and puts his own spin on it.

Why it’s Wild: There are plenty of books made to look like they were created by kids (see: The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby), but a “kid” taking one story and giving it a complete overhaul? Can’t say I’ve seen that before.

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That Night, a Monster… by Marzena Sowa; illustrated by Berenika Kolomycka

Uncivilized Books | November 12, 2013

In this picture book/graphic novel, a boy wakes up to find that his mother has been replaced with … a giant fern.

Why it’s Wild: Some of the books on this list are here for unique design elements – this one is unique in story. Leave it to a Polish author/illustrator team to turn a book about a fern into a child-relatable meditation on the fear of a maternal disappearance.

Odd ducks – keep doing what you do.

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About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.

Comments

  1. Anne says:

    Fun list, Travis! Can’t wait to check these out. Hope you are enjoying your summer!

  2. Philip Nel says:

    An intriguing group of books! I’m likely to order several of them, in fact! A footnote on The Hole: Peter Newell did die-cut pages a century ago. Check out The Hole Book and The Rocket Book.

  3. Heidi Apol says:

    Great List! BTW, we have been talking about you at the MRA Summer Reading Conferenece! :-)

  4. Nathalie Bromberger says:

    Thanks for the great list. Exactly the kind of books that I would have enjoyed as a child (and still do). Good to know that there still are wild books. I will look out for The Hole and Bunny.

  5. Dana Jones says:

    Can’t wait for Battle Bunny! I showed my daughter a review of the book and we ended up at Half Price books that same day to look for a book she could alter. A board book called “Love and Kisses” is now called “Zombie Kisses.”

  6. Stacy Dillon says:

    I *adore* Suzy Lee! Yay! And as for the chains….I am having a muscle memory of something in my grandma’s basement….a board book of some kind where all the noses where chains. Any ideas?

  7. PragmaticMom says:

    How about The Dark too? By Lemony Snicket. Is it wild enough for you?

  8. Rebecca Dunn says:

    Great post, Travis! I can’t wait to check these out! It does seem like picture books are embarking on a creative period filled with playful, interactive, and whimsical books. Looking forward to see what odd balls make this list in the years to come :)

  9. Sharon Verbeten says:

    Great stuff, Travis! I hadn’t seen some of these. I’ll have to share with my co-workers and seek some of these out. Like another poster, I love Snicket’s The Dark, but I don’t think it’s really all that weird; just kind of follows a bit of a “dark” trend we’ve been seeing! Gotta get you writing for CAL again!

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