These thirteen titles, varied in theme and style and narrative, represent the mighty world of contemporary picture books. Unless designated otherwise, these books were released in 2018. Four of the titles are noteworthy for being included on the New York Times Top Ten List of Outstanding Illustrated Books*.
THE WALL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOOK by John Agee
The wall is featured on the gutter of each page of the book, a wall designed to protect one side of the book from the other.
*AYOBAMI AND THE NAMES OF ANIMALS by Pilar Lopez Avila; illus. Mar Azabel
Ayobami writes the names of the animals she met on her dangerous journey to school, “the path that leads to the place where hope is born.” A heartwarming adventure that celebrates the importance of school and a recognition of the difficulties many children around the world encounter in pursuit of an education.
*THE FOREST by Riccardo Bozzi; illus. Violeta Lopiz and Valerio Vidaly (translated from the Italian by Debbie Bibo)
A journey into a forest… and beyond! Staggering visuals. Striking book construction. WOW!
*A HOUSE THAT ONCE WAS by Julie Fogliano; illus. Lane Smith
Who once lived in the house in the woods? Who walked the hallways of the house. Why did they leave? Where did they go?
P IS FOR PTERODACTYL: The worst alphabet book ever/ All the letters that misbehave and make words impossible to pronounce by Raj Halder & Chris Carpenter; illus. Maria Tina Beddia
Ptolemy the psychic pterodactyl struggles with psoriasis.
NIGHT JOB by Karen Hesse; illus. G Brian Karas
While a city sleeps, a boy accompanies his father who has the night shift as a school custodian.
MOON RIVER by Tom Hopgood (music by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini)
Moon River, wider than a mile/ I’m crossing you in style, someday!
*THE FUNERAL by Matt James
Attending her great-uncle Frank’s funeral, young Norma comes to learn about the rituals connected to death as well as deeper understanding of the importance of family.
POTATO PANTS! by Laurie Keller
Imagine a story about forgiveness within the funny adventure of Potato who only has one day to buy a pair of pants at Lance Vance’s Fancy Pant Store.
ARCHIE AND THE BEAR by Zanni Louise; illus. David Mackintosh
Archie says hes’s a bear (It’s not a suit. I am a bear”). The bear says he’s a boy. (“It’s not a suit. I am a boy.”) A story of the power of pretend and being true to who you think you are.
THE BANANA-LEAF BALL: How play can change the world by Katie Smith Milway; illus. Shane Evans (2017)
A story that tells how sport and play can overcome differences, even those who had to leave their home because of war or disaster.
THE WONKY DONKEY by Craig Smith (2010)
To begin, a wonky donkey. By book’s end… a spunky, hanky-panky, cranky, stinky, dinky, lanky, honky-tonky, winky wonky, donkey!
Hee Haw, Hee Haw, Hee Ha! Ha! Ha!
by Pnina Bat Zvi and Margie Wolfe; illus. Isabelle Cardinal
When taken by the Nazi’s to Auschwitz, Rachael and Toby’s parents give the girls three gold coins and advise them that they must always stay together. The two girls protect each other amidst the horrors of concentration camp life. The Promise is based on a true story.