My Favorite Picture Books of 2017
Here is the promised list of my favorite picture books I reviewed in 2017. These are not necessarily the best, but are the picture books that I can’t stop thinking about. These are the ones when I see the cover online or on a display, I can’t help but smile. These are the ones that are on my gift list. I hope you’ll find some titles to add to yours!
What to do with a box
By Jane Yolen, illustrated by Chris Sheban
Have you ever searched for the perfect gifts for your little one for the holidays or for their birthday, and then, when all of the presents were opened and the wrapping paper scattered everywhere, all they really wanted to do was to play with the boxes? Especially, if they were really large boxes? After sharing this story with your kids, you will be left with a warm and cozy feeling. It’s muted illustrations and imaginative text and will make you want to rush out, find a box and sail away to Paris together!
By Phil Cummings, illustrated by Owen Swan
Do you remember making newspaper hats? I certainly do! My dad and I had so much fun creating these. It was especially fun using the comics from the Sunday paper when we actually had lots of those! In Newspaper Hats Georgie is visiting Grandpa and wonders if Grandpa will remember him today. but sadly he doesn’t know him. That is until Georgie shows him a picture, with Georgie, his dad and Grandpa, all wearing newspaper hats. Then Georgie and Grandpa can’t stop making lots of hats for all of Grandpa’s friends! This poignant story is a special one to share with any of your little ones who are trying to understand why Grandma or Grandpa doesn’t remember them, but also offers hope that somehow your kiddo might be able to find that missing connection with their loved one.
The unexpected love story of alfred fiddleduckling
By Timothy Basil Ering
I was completely enthralled by this story. The illustrations are exquisite from the first endpaper to the last. Timothy Basil Ering’s words and paintings draw you into the story as you find yourself rooting for Alfred Fiddleduckling, Captain Alfred, his dog and his wife. You are hoping they can all find each other in the end, and the magical conclusion on the final pages of the book convinces you this will happen.
By Emily Gravett
Pete the Badger is a compulsive tidier. He can’t even handle one fallen leaf in his forest! Emily Gravett tells the story of Pete’s destruction of his home with her rhyming, humorous text and vibrant illustrations. Pete’s insistence that everything be perfectly neat and clean in his forest soon leads to unwelcome consequences for both Pete and his friends. Happily, he realizes his extreme actions need to be rectified, so with the help of his friends he is able to save the forest and put everything back to how it was, just maybe a little bit tidier.
dad and the dinosaur
By Gennifer Choldenko, illustrated by Dan Santat
Newberry Honor winner, Gennifer Choldenko has written a heartwarming story about a father’s love. The illustrations by Caldecott Award Winner, Dan Santat @dsantat, (The Adventures of Beekle) make this charming story come alive even more. Little Nick was afraid of everything, but nothing scared Big Nick. Little Nick tried his best to be brave, and nothing helped until he got his dinosaur. But then, something awful happened. Little Nick lost his dinosaur. That is, it WAS awful, until Dad came home and saved the day, as dads do. Because “dads get it. They just do.”
by Matthew Swanson, illustrated by Robbi Behr
This imaginative picture book with vibrant illustrations invites the reader to tour the world with a young boy as he notices the world “with his eyes wide open.”This would be a great book to read to your little guys to open up a conversation about “smelling the roses” or to provide a wonderful beginning to a writing project for your older kids. I highly recommend it!
by Gaia Corwall
When I was a child, I was terrified of jumping into a pool, even though my mother had sent me to countless swim lessons. To stand on the side of a pool, let alone a diving board as everyone was expecting me to jump, was completely overwhelming. Even though Jabari feels the same way, he announces to his dad “I’m jumping off the diving board today.” Of course, though, that’s a little easier said than done! Gaia Cornwall’s illustrations capture his fear, but also his determination and courage. If you have a little one who may be wondering if they have the courage to jump in, this is a wonderful book that might provide just the encouragement they need to succeed.
we’re all wonders
By R.J. Palacio
R.J. Palacio, the author or Wonder, has worked her magic again in this picture book which will help our little ones gain a better understanding of kindness and accepting differences. The main character is “an ordinary kid”, who just wants to be accepted by everyone around him, despite his different appearance. He helps us to understand how it feels to be excluded, stared at, pointed at or laughed at and how much it hurts his feelings. Ms. Palacio gently points out that we are all different and all special in our own way. This book will be a great pathway to conversations with all of your kids from toddler through elementary school to help them to understand, “We’re all wonders!” and to “look with kindness and you will always find wonder.”
That Neighbor kid
By Daniel Miyares
This is a heartwarming wordless picture book about a friendship that develops between a boy and a girl when she moves in next door. They are both a little lonely until they collaborate on building a treehouse together. The drawings are black and white in the beginning, but as their friendship blossoms and each of them contributes to building their playhouse, colorful leaves begin to appear. The illustrations show us the sweet expressions on the friends’ faces as they dream and relax together in their new hideaway. I love wordless picture books, because it gives so many opportunities for discussion as you share the story with your little ones. I hope this is a good one for your family!
the book of mistakes
By Corianna Luyken
If you or your little one has ever been obsessed with making a mistake, or if you’re just looking for a beautifully illustrated book full of positivity and optimism, this is definitely a book to add to your collection. The charming narrative encourages us to explore, create and to understand that although we may stumble as we try new a experience, it’s okay, because we’re a work in progress.
life on mars
By Jon Agee
The delightful illustrations in this picture book made me smile from the time I first viewed the cover and I didn’t stop until long after I finished the sweet story. The little astronaut is certain there is life on Mars and he travels there to prove his theory. He brings chocolate cupcakes, because when you visit someone’s home you always take a hostess gift, don’t you?! He’s so disappointed when he arrives. All he sees is barren terrain full of rocks – no life. When you read this book aloud to your little one, they will be squealing with delight as they point out who’s following the little explorer. And they’ll especially love the last page, as I did. This is definitely one you’re going to want to add to your library!
After the fall: how humpty dumpty got back up again
By Dan Santat
Dan Santat has again created an amazing picture book that will be timeless! I shared it with three second grade classes and they unanimously loved it – especially the surprise ending. The message is such a good one for ALL of us to remember. Even though we fall, we can make it “back up again” and succeed, even it takes every bit of courage we can gather from deep within our souls.
This delightful wordless picture book is one you’ll thoroughly enjoy with your little ones. There are several panels on each page, which will lead to lots of conversation. You’ll both love finding the many, many details every time you experience the book. It’s so much fun to share wordless picture books and to let the kids create their own dialogue. The story is different every time! And you’ll love the surprise ending, too! This is definitely one to add to your collection. And don’t forget to check underneath the dust jacket. The cover is truly a special one you won’t want to miss!
What were your favorite books this year? What books are on your Christmas list? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!