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Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Top 10: picture books

Picture books are cool. It’s a bit of a shame when they go over the heads of their intended audience, so we thought we’d bring some sophisticated gems to your attention. Here’s the list I’ve put together, I’ve also asked Stu (from storytime and Stories@7 fame) for his top 10… we’ll compare notes.

  1. book coverBlack and White, David Macaulay (Children Fiction). This is a cool one; four stories are told simultaneously, but interconnect at different moments in time. A kind of a puzzle.
  2. The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley, Colin Thompson (Children Fiction). A story to live by. Riley’s only a rat (a happy rat, as the title suggests), but is he wiser than humans?
  3. The Arrival, Shaun Tan (YA). A wordless story of living in a strange land.
  4. Michael Rosen’s Sad Book, Michael Rosen (Children 152.4 ROS). With illustrations by the awesome Quentin Blake. Michael Rosen was inspired to write this book after the death of his son, Eddie. The pictures and words mesh beautifully.
  5. book coverThe Mysteries of Harris Burdick, Chris Van Ahlsberg (Children Fiction). Stu showed me this one and I like it. It’s a kind of choose-your-own picture book. The illustrations are awesome and your imagination can run wild.
  6. book coverThe Island, Armin Greder (Children Fiction). A stranger is washed up on an island. Who is he? A story of xenophobia and human rights.
  7. The wall: growing up behind the Iron Curtain, Peter Sis (Children Biography B SIS). A graphic memoir about growing up in Czechoslovakia at the beginning of the Cold War. A lesson in history and a personal journey.
  8. book coverWoolvs in the sitee, Margaret Wild (YA). Post Apocalypse, a teenager lives alone in a derilict building, terrified of the world around him. When his rescuer, an elderly woman, goes missing, he must muster the courage to venture out and find her.
  9. Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus! Mo Willems (Children’s Picture Book). Really very silly; too silly for preschoolers… adults love it, and the pigeon (and the bus driver) has become something of a picture book celebrity. Also check out the latest pigeon book, The Pigeon Wants a Puppy.
  10. The Savage, David Almond (YA). This is a new arrival. Part novel, part graphic novel (kind of similar to Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan in that sense), the illustrations are duotone black and blue, adding to the “savage” element. Blue Baker writes a story that come true… trouble is, the story is one of blood and guts. Dave McKean, the illustrator, has also done the artwork for many Neil Gaiman books, including Coraline, The Sandman series and The Wolves in the Walls.


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1 Comment

  1. Bridget

    Stu says these are great:
    – The Red Tree by Shaun Tan (particularly good to give to a friend who’s going through a hard time).
    – The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman.
    – The Rabbits by John Marsden and Shaun Tan (uses the introduction of rabbits in Australia as an allegory for European settlement).
    – The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (a classic story of sacrificial love).
    – The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman by Raymond Briggs (an incisive political commentary).

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