My Fave 5 Picture Books and Novels (This Week)

Taking a break from my maybe-too-pedantic posts, how about a peek into my reading list. I’ve recently rediscovered the library by my office, and have been binging on library books. Here’s some notables from my latest checkout.

5 Picture Books


 Detailed, adorbs illustrations and technical, but not too technical explanation of what it takes to build a house from the ground up. Also, it’s a based-on-a-true story. I am amazed that a family would/could do this all on their own.
 Verse that I aspire to write and a sassy, unique rhythm that I literally wake up each morning chanting. I adore everything Phyllis Root writes.
Philip Stead knocks me out with almost every book he writes. His quiet, unassuming stories have a perfect picture book cadence and they stick with you, in a way that other, flashier, more high concept books do not. It feels like they get better with each reading. Even if his wife hadn’t won a Caldecott, this dude would have a long career ahead of him.
 Absolutely gorgeous illustrations and a theme that resonates with parents and little kids alike. Peter Brown uses page turns to great effect in this book. Is it just me or was it REALLY shocking when Tiger goes nude?!
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I wish I had written this book. Simply elegant prose by genius Ame Dyckman, structural perfection, fantastic touches of quirky humor. Dan Yaccarino’s graphic illos fit the tone of the writing like a robot glove.

5 Novels


 It’s a classic that I either hadn’t read or completely forgot. An episodic book with a bizarre non-ending ending that left me feeling like E.B. White kicked the bucket before finishing it—but it was actually his first children’s book. Overall, it wasn’t satisfying but the prose was top-notch and a few of the stories were standouts. I liked the cats and the sailboat scene. That teeny tiny potential girlfriend was a bizatch! What were you thinking cheating on Margalo, Stuart? Garth Williams illustrations were the highlight.

 I’ve read most of Roald Dahl’s books, even the more obscure ones like Danny, Champion of the World —which made a huge impression on me as a fourth grader and I always think of it whenever anyone talks of pheasants and/or poaching! Cuz you know how people are always talking about pheasants and/or poaching. But I digress. . . .  I had never read this total peachy classic. Roald Dahl books are always a wee bit kooky, but this one seems especially wack-a-doodle, maybe more so reading it as an adult. The idea of flying across the ocean in a gigantic orb with fleshy wet walls, alongside a bunch of overgrown insects, is TERRIFYING. But Dahl manages to make it charming somehow.

 Yeah, I’m on a classics kick! Secret world of animals in a time when New York City was a friendlier, slightly less frenetic place. I had forgotten how racist one chapter set in Chinatown is—I guess that dampened my enthusiasm for this trip down memory lane. Garth Williams illustrations again. Is there a classic book that this guy didn’t illustrate?!

 Okay this one’s modern and marvelous. I absolutely love this middle-grade mystery series. Sammy is a smart, funny girl hero and and the mysteries are authentically twisty, not at all dumbed down. The series really shines when Sammy hits the road. This Las Vegas escapade ranks second only to the Hollywood storyline. I just discovered I have missed the last four published books. Score! Can’t wait to catch-up.

I somehow missed reading this blockbuster series when it came out, even though I’d read all about it in publishing news and was in awe of its marketing brilliance. When I mentioned it in my high concept post, I realized I have to go back and see whether the storyline holds up to the fab premise. The characterizations are pretty cartoonish (the villains are especially over-the-top!) But it absolutely delivers the thrills of a high action mystery, and traipsing through Philly and Paris on the heels of Benjamin Franklin was flat-out fun. I admit it: I’m sold. I picked up Book 2. Gotta find out what happens next!

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