ICPL staff celebrate National Picture Book Month

by on November 27th, 2013

When you ask a Librarian to name his or her favorite picture book, you’ll get one of two reactions.

They will be able to name their title and author in less than five seconds.


They will panic, say there’s no way they can possibly choose just one, and ask for more time to make their decision. And even when they’ve selected a title, they’ll go on and on about all the other picture books they love.

To paraphrase Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail, the books you read as a child – or the books you read to children – become a part of your identity. I fell in love with New York City because of Kay Thompson’s Eloise. It didn’t matter that years would pass before my first visit; I knew I’d love New York because of the adventures she had at The Plaza.

National Picture Book Month was launched in November 2010 to celebrate the print picture book on an international level. Libraries, schools, booksellers and book lovers of all ages have participated with story times, coloring pages, and puppet shows. The National Picture Book website (http://picturebookmonth.com/) features essays from leaders in the children’s literature community sharing why picture books are important.

Iowa City Public Library staff celebrated National Picture Book Month by sharing their favorite picture book with our Facebook fans. Each person selected a title and a few words about why that book stood out from all the other fantastic picture books in the Library’s collection. It was fun to see how varied staff tastes are, from classics like The Lorax to the word-free Chalk. If you didn’t get a chance to view the posts on Facebook, their selections are below.

Morgan: Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
“This is one of my favorites because it is the best story of a life I’ve wanted to emulate since I was little. I want to travel the world. I want to live by the sea. I want to make the world a more beautiful place.”

Paul: Chalk by Bill Thomson
“I love wordless picture books. To do a story effectively, you have to have a lot more going on and the way he captures the children’s expressions is just priceless. It’s always on the top of my recommendation list for wordless picture books.”

Katherine: No, David! by David Shannon
“This is one of my all-time favorite picture books because the David in this story is just like my son, Brent, who is now 30 and a successful lawyer in the U.S. Army. He was always tracking in mud and he would play baseball in the house. Brent, I’m sorry to say, still plays with his food, just like David. This book has a very special place in my heart.”

Mara: Corduroy by Don Freeman
“It’s a story about a bear who is all alone and all he wants is to be adopted, and then he finds a little girl and gets his wish. That theme always appealed to me. Now, as an adult, I have a lot of adopted animals.”

Vickie: Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban
“It’s a sweet story about a loving family and a common childhood concern. I wish I was as wise as Frances’ parents.”

Bond: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
“I probably read this book 50,000 times. I think it was the first book that made me understand that a book could be more than just pretty pictures. It can be about big ideas.”

Pete the Cat: Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses by James Dean (Yes, he played, too.)
He tells us he recommends all of his books, but his newest is a fun read for days when you’re feeling grumpy.

Nancy: King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood
“I just think it’s a terrific book. It has a funny, appealing story with lavish illustrations. My best memory is reading it to my daughter’s kindergarten class in 1986.”

Jen: Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
“I just like that she learns to love herself for who she is – again.”

Kara: The Napping House Wakes Up by Audrey Wood
“My children loved pop-up books when they were younger and we spent many happy hours reading this book.”

Jason: Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers
“First of all, the artwork is very bright and playful, and it has a penguin, which is adorable. It’s a simple story about making new friends – a classic theme for children’s books – but it’s written in a whimsical and silly way.”

Maeve: Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
“This is my favorite book from my childhood. All you need to know about it is the last line of the story: ‘I ought to know, for I’ve seen – Hundreds of cats, Thousands of cats, Millions and billions and trillions of cats – and not one was as pretty as this one.’”

Elyse: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
“It is my favorite because my nephew, who just went to college in September, had a secret reader program in kindergarten. This was in New York. I arranged a secret reader visit from afar and came home to surprise him. When I walked in, Matthew said ‘That’s my Aunt Elyse!’”

Beth: Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner“This is the best book series ever! The writing is hilarious, whether you’re an adult or a kid. And you have to respect a kitten who thinks he’s a Chihuahua.”

Lynn: Blueberries for Sal and One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey
“I love these two McCloskey books in particular because they remind me of a certain period when my daughter, Kate, was around 2 or 3. We both loved the illustrations, the kinds that evoke a certain delicious feeling every time you open the cover, of a world you want to step into. A close friend of ours, Marnie, spent every summer of her childhood in Maine, so they have that association as well, since those summers, and Maine, had a special significance for her. Marnie gave Kate both of these books on her birthday one year. She’d carefully gone through and replaced the characters’ names with ‘Marnie’ and ‘Kate.’ I can only look at the name ‘Sal’ now and think it must be a misprint.”

Anna: Winter Days in the Big Woods (My First Little House Books) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
“I loved how the Ingalls family spent so much time together – working hard, helping around the yard and home, cooking and eating together as a family, reading stories and dancing while Pa played the fiddle. My mom often says she thinks I was born in the wrong generation.”

Susan: A Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker
“Bear and Mouse are very different characters, and yet they have this strong friendship, and they learn how to accommodate each other. This book is part of a series, so you can follow their adventures through several books.”

Talya: Every Thing on It by Shel Silverstein
“I have three copies of ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends,’ so when this was released after Shel Silverstein’s death, I was so excited I was like a little kid at Christmas, squealing and stuff. This collection contains new poems and illustrations that were never published before.”

Anne: Chicken Soup with Rice: A Book on Months by Maurice Sendak
“My mom used to take my sister and me to storytime every Thursday at the Berkshire Athenaeum (in Pittsfield, Mass.) and they used to play this video called ‘Chicken Soup with Rice,’ and I found that very exciting. We owned a copy of the book, which we’d go home and read every week. My sister and I still have it memorized.”

Orion: Who Needs Donuts? By Mark Alan Stamaty
“For a long time, I had forgotten about this book, but I’ve loved donuts my entire life. Then I rediscovered this book, and I think it’s where my love of reading, learning and donuts began.”

Hannah: Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
“I love this book because it’s not just for kids. My two favorite teachers gave me a copy as a high school graduation gift, and even now as a grad student I sometimes turn to it for encouragement and inspiration. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to be stressed out with Dr. Seuss’s uplifting message and beautiful, vibrant drawings.”

Heidi: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
“‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ is the first book I remember reading — that is to say, looking at the pictures. I pretended that my favorite stuffed animal — a dog — was a sick Peter Rabbit and would put him to bed under a little blanket. Beatrix Potter remains one of my favorite authors; I especially admire the land conservation work she did to protect the farms and hills in the Lake District in England.”

Tom: Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? By Dr. Seuss
“The narrator is an old man bearing a sunny sweet smile whose tales’ victims suffer fear, tedium, bizarre absurdities – all much worse than having to eat green beans or having just one story at bedtime instead of two. It could be worse is the idea. My kids need to hear this and I do, too. We adults have books about war, depression, addiction, and deceit not only to educate and inform, but to accomplish this task as well. I don’t know about you, but sometimes Professor de Breeze teaching Irish ducks Jivvanese just goes down easier.”

Judy: The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes and The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
“I remember reading both of these books when I was a child. It was a happy surprise when a patron brought The Hundred Dresses to the Help Desk to be checked out. Luckily the library had two copies so I could reread it that night. The story carried a much deeper meaning than I had originally understood. As for Ferdinand, who wouldn’t love Ferdinand? The cover alone should be framed and hung on the wall.”

Karen: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr
“This Caldecott Medal book is a sentimental story about a father and his daughter who go owling on a cold night. It has great imagery and the words are written in such a soothing way, because when you go owling, you have to be quiet. As a parent, this story reminds me of the night hikes I used to take my children on when we lived in Vermont. It’s just a special time to share with your kids; something you’ll never forget.”

Todd: Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton
“This is a book I read several times a day to my sons when they were younger. It’s a fun story with great character development for the turkey.”

Lindsey: Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown
“My favorite picture book is ‘Goodnight Moon’ by Margaret Wise Brown because it’s the first book my mother ever read to me. I actually bought her a new copy of it a few years ago and did a front-cover inscription as a Mother’s Day gift!”

Casey: Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
“I’ve been a fan of Lane Smith ever since ‘The Stinky Cheese Man.’ The first time I read ‘Grandpa Green,’ it made me cry. This book came out 10 years after my grandfather died and it reminds me of him. It’s the perfect Grandparent’s Day book.”

Debb: What! Cried Granny by Kate Lum
“It’s a book I just love. I read it for storytime and it’s just fun – no matter the audience. I love funny stories and this one is so goofy. The first time I say ‘What?’ in Granny’s voice, the kids laugh. Every time after that, they say it with me.”

And, because they couldn’t choose just one title, a couple of bonus picks from Vickie and Katherine:

Vickie: Jamberry by Bruce Degen
“It is filled with exuberance and rhythm and creativity and, honestly, who doesn’t like berries?”

Katherine: Mop Top by Don Freeman
“Originally published in 1955, this is a story of a little boy who never wanted to get a haircut. I had four brothers and our dad cut their hair, and they never wanted to get a haircut, either. This story reminds me of my childhood.”

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