Saturday, December 29, 2012

Our Favorite Picture Books of 2012 + 2013 Preview

As a writer and illustrator team, Daniel and I are always on the lookout for amazing picture books to inspire us.

Admittedly we weren't exposed to as many 2012 picture books as we probably should have been, but of those we read, these were the standouts.

I Don't Want to Be a Pea by Ann Bonwill, illustrated by Simon Rickerty
Hugo Hippo and Bella Bird are looking for a couples costume for a party, but each suggests something that puts them in the starring role and the other as a merely a prop. Can they find a costume that lets them both shine?

Lenore says: I love the pairing of a hippo and bird and Hugo and Bella's squabble is sweet, realistic and funny.  Favorite line: "I think you look rather nice orange." "Thank you. But I will still not be a pumpkin."

Daniel says: The dialogue between Hugo and Bella is great. The stylized, reduced illustrations fit the tone of the story perfectly.

Oh No George by Chris Haughton
We've all known a dog like George, one who just can't keep himself out of trouble. George's owner asks him to be good while he's gone ... but he's not (hence the title).

Lenore says: George's eyes say it all. Watch how they change from page to page (tempted, guilty, excited, remorseful). And the ending is up to you to decide - has George changed his ways? Or not?

Daniel says: Beautifully designed with striking colors.  I love the character designs of George and Harry.

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
A twist on Klassen's bestseller I Want My Hat Back, this book tells the story of a little fish who dares to steal a hat from a much bigger fish. Will he get away with it?

Lenore says: It's pretty rare these days to have a such a blatantly "unhappy" ending in a picture book, and that's what I love about this.  The humor is dry and the text deceptively simple.

Daniel says: A tight story with beautiful art. Great details throughout.

The Amazing Hamweenie by Patty Bowman
Hamweeine bemoans his fate as the coddled pet to a very attentive little girl.

Lenore says: I would have never found this gem if it hadn't been for the new releases shelf at Mrs. Nelson's Bookstore in Greater Los Angeles. The text and illustrations work together so well. My favorite page has to be where the girl has Hamweenie bundled up in a stroller and the accompanying text says "Fate has been cruel to Hamweenie."  A great laugh for anyone with spoiled cats.

Daniel says: Extremely funny. The exaggerated language is used to great effect and Hamweenie's expressions are priceless. There are so many fun details to find in the illustrations.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Annabelle lives in a cold town where everything is white as snow or black as soot - until she starts knitting colorful sweaters from a box of yarn.

Lenore says: I'm a sucker for stories about bringing color into your life, and this one's a visual stunner. I love the way the sweaters look on the animals (especially the cat - so cute!).

Daniel says: Beautifully rendered.

Where is Fred? by Edward Hardy, illustrated by Ali Pye
Only available in the UK (sadly). Fred is a fluffy white caterpillar who is very, very good at hiding. This frustrates Gerald the Crow to no end, because how can he eat Fred if he can't find him?

Lenore says: I love all the creative places Fred hides and the bumbling nature of Gerald. My absolute favorite scene is when Gerald shows off his fluffy white "scarf" to his crow buddies. Ha!

Daniel says: I wish I had come up with this idea. Very funny. I love the story and the rhythm it has to it.


Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Brothers at Bat by Audrey Vernick, illustrated by Steven Salerno
Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
Big Mean Mike by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Scott Magoon

(FTC disclosure: We bought all the books mentioned in this post except Big Mean Mike which I got at BEA)

Bonus! Here are some books we're looking forward to in the first part of 2013:

That is NOT a Good Idea by Mo Willems
Mo Willems is a picture book powerhouse, and this one looks to be very fun and interactive. (HarperCollins, April 2013)

I Am Not a Copy Cat by Ann Bonwill, illustrated by Simon Rickerty
Yes - the sequel to I Don't Want to be a Pea (see above). This one, about sychronized swimming, is even cuter than the first Hugo + Bella book (if that's possible). (Simon & Schuster, May 2013)

The Three Triceratops Tuff by Stephen Shaskan
This dino retelling of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" pits a villainous T-Rex against the clever Tuff brothers. Made me laugh out loud. (Simon & Schuster, April 2013)

Giant Dance Party by Betsy Bird, illustrated by Brandon Dorman
Betsy is a picture book expert (and blogs over at Fuse #8), so we've been looking forward to this one since the sale was announced. (HarperCollins, April 2013)

Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea
How hilarious is this cover? Can't stop smiling. (Hyperion, May 2013)

And don't forget Chick-O-Saurus Rex! (Simon & Schuster, July 2013)


The Monstore by Tara Lazar, illustrated by James Burks
Open Very Carefully by Nick Bromley, illustrated by Nicola O'Byrne

Any recommendations for us? What outstanding picture books tickled your fancy this year?


bermudaonion said...

I rarely read picture books but did read one of those.

Peaceful Reader said...

These look fantastic and I pinned them to my library board. I have Extra Yarn and Boy + Bot already but will have to add the others! Thank you for researching for me.

Anonymous said...

Great list--lots of favorites and a few I can't wait to go find. And I have been looking forward to Chick-o-Saurus Rex and Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great for what feels like DECADES already....lots of good stuff ahead in 2013!

Happy new year!

Tez Miller said...

Ha! Love the snarky goat on the Unicorn cover ;-)

Mariana said...

Awesome list!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the great 2013 preview picks! I've set up a challenge for myself and others to read 300 picture books in 2013 and these look like some fantastic ones for the list. I'm pinning them to my challenge board! You're welcome to checkout my challenge and join along on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Wait a sec-you are joining along with the picture book challenge. Sweet! I suppose I should finish my entire cup of coffee in the am before posting comments. ;)