I don't think I've ever said the title Roxaboxen without sighing with delight. Oh, Roxaboxen. A world of thorny cactus, desert glass, a dead lizard, ocotillo swords and little Anna May in jail. Special bonus: Barbara Cooney's art makes me swoon.
You'd think those two hippos in their fancy hats and accessories would be outdated by now, but there's something about their friendship, and their respect for one another, that stands the test of time. And I know it's wrong, but whenever I hear of someone named Martha, my first mental image is of James Marshall's Marha. For reasons I cannot fathom, this is not true of men named George.
Shark Vs. Train by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Sometimes, ideas come along that are so spot-on and brilliant that it's almost as though they've been there all along. (I feel that way about certain songs, too.) But it took this combination of writer and illustrator to execute a great idea with such brilliance. And hilarity. And universal appeal.
I'm a sucker for baseball picture books, and it's hard to choose a favorite. I admire this one so much because of the way it shines a bright light on a single, easily forgotten moment between Jackie Robinson and Pee Wee Reese on a baseball field in Cincinnati, Ohio. Teammates is a celebration of baseball, friendship, and the power of doing what's right.
Big Rabbit's Bad Mood by Ramona Badescu, illustrated by Delphine Durand
A bad mood can suck the funny right out of you. But Big Rabbit's bad mood is personified. It's a character. A hilariously nasty one. Isn't that brilliant? This book is that rarest of things--one that is really funny to read and brilliantly illustrated.
Audrey Vernick is the author of IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN? and SHE LOVED BASEBALL: THE EFFA MANLEY STORY, both to be published by HarperCollins this year. She is a two-time recipient of the New Jersey Arts Council's Fiction Fellowship and a lover of picture books. You can visit her online at http://www.audreyvernick.com/.