The Wildest Children’s Books of 2014
The amount of cleverness in children’s literature never ceases to amaze me. While some decry the sameness of picture books, I believe that there are plenty of bold and unique books coming out, once you start looking around.
What follows are a few 2014 books that made me and Salvador Dali double take – in a good way.
Jim Curious: A Voyage to the Heart of the Sea by Matthias Picard
ABRAMS | April 15, 2014
A boy’s wordless trip to the bottom of the sea.
Why It’s Wild: Sporting a huge trim size and incredibly detailed illustrations, this picture book/graphic novel mashup takes things to the next level with spectacular 3-D Vision.
The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose
Little, Brown | October 21, 2014
An unconventional squirrel realizes he could use some company.
Why It’s Wild: There are definitely books out there that use nature photography in unique ways, but, dare I say, never with this level of wonderful goofiness. Nancy Rose, you are a dedicated gal. Click here to read about how Rose gets these photographs.
The Flat Rabbit by Bárdur Oskarsson
Owlkids Books | September 9, 2014
A dog and a rat come upon, well, a flat rabbit. What to do next?
Why It’s Wild: You don’t see many picture books dealing with the topic of roadkill. You also don’t see a book use it as a jumping-off point to explore death and compassion.
This Book Just Ate My Dog by Richard Byrne
Henry Holt | October 7, 2014
A girl takes her dog for a walk when it gets gobbled up by the book itself. Let operation dog recovery commence!
Why It’s Wild: I’m sure there’s a precedent out there, but I can’t recall the “gutter” (the seam in the middle of a picture book) being used in exactly this way. It’s some inventive picture book making that kids are going to dig.
(photo credit: Carter Higgins)
Out the Window by Cybèle Young
Groundwood Books | February 25, 2014
A furry animal’s ball bounces out the window – what exactly is going on out there?
Why It’s Wild: This book takes the concept of the page turn and turns it on its head. This accordion-style board book shows the protagonist’s perspective on one side, then the mystery is revealed on the other.
Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth
Clarion Books | March 4, 2014
It’s 2031 and bird species are disappearing. Not to worry – with the help of Aviary Wonders, you can build your own!
Why It’s Wild: You don’t see a lot of satire in picture books, but this one has it in spades.
What There Is Before There Is Anything There by Liniers
Groundwood Books | October 14, 2014
Every night, when the light goes off, a boy is visited by a cast of creepy characters.
Why It’s Wild: Its cyclical ending dares to leave things creepily unresolved – something you don’t see much in picture books. It’s also my winner of the 2014 The Dark Award – I give this award to a book that, like The Dark by Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen, could swing from mildly spooky to completely terrifying, depending on how the reader chooses to deliver the tale.
Here’s to wild books.
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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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