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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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