Top 20 Children’s Books of 2010 (#15-11)
15. Farm by Elisha Cooper [Orchard]
Take a Midwestern farm, add a family, toss in animals, some machinery, and show how it changes through the seasons. Sounds like a traditional farm picture book, right? Â Perhaps. It becomes extraordinary, however, when you add Elisha Cooperâ€™s impeccable watercolor and pencil illustrations and first-class writing. It creates the same excitement as opening an Advent calender – every tidbit of farm life seems more intriguing than the one before. Farm will keep children reading until they uncover all of its gems. –John Schumacher
14. Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld [Little, Brown]
â€œAuthenticâ€ might not be the first word that pops into your head when reading a book that features a shark and a train competing in ping pong, but it should. The success with which Christopher Barton and Tom Lichtenheld have tapped into kidsâ€™ brains is impressive. Two boys meet at a toy box – one holding a train, the other, a shark – which is better? The imaginary battle quickly ramps up in ridiculousness. Shark vs. Train mimics how kids really play, immersing the reader in a world where this sort of contest could actually happen. And what a beautiful world that is. –Travis Jonker
13. Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by JosÃ©e Masse [Dutton]
First things first: a reversible poem, or the reverso, is a new poetry form created by Marilyn Singer. Â It allows the reader to see two sides to a story – one perspective Â going down the page, another coming up. Â This is a fascinating way to look at twelve beloved fairy tales. On one side of the page, Little Red Riding Hood is skipping through the forest in her hood – on the other side, Â the Wolf is watching Little Red skip through his â€œhood.â€ Josee Masseâ€™s expressive illustrations are rich in detail. The juxtaposition of shadow color versus pure color in the same illustration enhances the concept of the reverso. This unique poetry collection is sure to be a winner with everyone, especially elementary school teachers. –John Schumacher
12. We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems [Hyperion]
Donâ€™t underestimate Mo Willems. Over 10 books into his Geisel-winning Elephant & Piggie series, right around the creativity-sapped point where our heroes should be teaching youngsters about the magic of Christmas or something, he drops We Are in a Book! – a fouth-wall-busting, laugh-out-loud take on the conventions of the book itself. Say it with me: “Banana!” –Travis Jonker
11. Chalk by Bill Thomson [Marshall Cavendish]
Once in a great while, you come across a wordless picture book that is pure perfection. Imagine you are booktalking Chalk to third graders. Â You stand before the group and reveal a green dinosaur holding a bag of magical chalk. You explain the story of three children who draw pictures that come to life. Your talk is going beautifully, and suddenly youâ€™re having an adjective love fest… Stunning. Brilliant. Imaginative. Expressive. Intricate. Beautiful. Magnificent. Grand. Intricate (again). Visionary. Fantastic.
A student raises his hand and says, â€œThose are amazing computer generated images.â€ To which you respond (in this order):
- No, no, no. (said with an all-knowing look)
- You flip to the back of the book to read the note. â€œBill Thomson embraced traditional painting techniques and meticulously painted each illustration by hand, using acrylic paint and colored pencils. His illustrations are not photographs or computer generated images.â€
- Now, go take another look at Chalk.
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 email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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