I recently attended the Great Books Consortium, in which Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed (creator of the comic strip Opus) was chosen by a committee of children’s librarians from across the state of Maryland, as the best picture book of the past year. It’s certainly an interesting story, about a pig named Pete, who lives a quiet and simple existence, until he runs into Pickles, a runaway circus elephant. At first Pete is alarmed by the changes Pickles brings to his life, but soon finds himself unable to live without the unpredictable pacidurm. The book deals indirectly with the loss of a loved one, so it may not be suited to especially sensitive children.
Not All Animals Are Blue: A Big Book of Little Differences by Beatrice Boutignon is ideal for inquisitive children. If your child is constantly wondering about the world around them, this is the perfect book for you to share. On each new page you’ll be presented with five animals, and five questions. Each question matches up to one of the animals, and it’s your job to decipher how. No doubt this will lead to healthy discussion as your child argues for which animals the questions represent. The soft pastel palette of the illustrations is an added bonus.
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed is the latest by six time Emmy award winning former writer for Sesame Street, Mo Willems. Our hero here is Wilbur, a naked mole rat, who is very strange, in that he doesn’t like to be naked. Wilbur loves clothes so much he opens his own fashion boutique, much to the chagrin of his fellow naked mole rats, who immediately report him to Grand-pah “the oldest, greatest, and most naked naked mole rat ever.” How will he judge this effrontery? Find out in Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed!
Olivia Forms a Band is my favorite of Ian Falconer’s fabulous Olivia series. Olivia, you should know, is well endowed with the ability to wear people out, especially her mother. In this installment of the saga that is Olivia, her family is planning to attend a fireworks show. Olivia is outraged when she’s informed there will not be a band at the evening’s festivities. “I’ll be the band,” she concludes. But, her mother tells her, “the word ‘band’ means more than one person, and a band sounds like more than one person.” This sounds like a challenge to Olivia. She grabs all the items necessary for a one-pig band, and is soon clanging through the house (to her, of course, she sounds like the most marvelous marching band). You’re sure to enjoy this Olivia book as well as all of Falconer’s others. What will Olivia think of next?
The Lump of Coal is a charming Christmas story from the author and illustrator (respectively) of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket and Brett Helquist, which presupposes “miracles can happen, even to those who are small, flammable, and dressed all in black.” In the story a lump of coal who “for the sake of argument” can walk and talk, and who, “like many people who dress in black” wants to be an artist. He could make beautiful black lines on a canvas, or a piece a chicken, if only someone would give him the chance! Maybe his dreams will come true when an drugstore employee dressed as Santa Claus puts the lump of coal in his disobedient stepson’s stocking.