Top 10 Picture Books: My Brother Weighs In

My erstwhile little brother (now about 6 inches taller than me), a mild-mannered lawyer by day but with an alternate identity as a spouse, parent, and children's book afficionado, sent me the following email the other night. My response was to write back that it seems the wrong person in the family went into the kidlit blogging business. Here, see for yourself:

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Hi Els!
 
I've been eagerly following the countdown of the 100 favorite picture books over at Fuse #8, and I'm trying to come up with a list of my own. I didn't vote at the time, but why not now?
 
Of course, I won't send it to Ms. Bird, since the voting's closed over there, but I thought I'd send my ballot to you, just so you'd know.
 
I decided to limit myself to books I was had read before the list came out. (Shaun Tan's The Arrival certainly would have made my list, but I only read it because I saw it on the Fuse #8 results. Truly amazing, though.) I also don't know what counts as a picture book, versus an early reader, versus a board book, versus illustrated nonfiction, versus whatever, so some of my titles may not, ahem, qualify. And, of course, I don't have a librarian's knowledge of the canon. Nonetheless, here goes:
 
You think you're embarrassed shouting at the television? Wait till you catch yourself shouting at a book. The best read-aloud. Ever.
 
2. The Osbick Bird (Edward Gorey)
Yes, it's Gorey, with everything macabre, absurd, and arbitrary that that entails. And it all serves a lovely tale of friendship and companionship.
 
Made me cry when I first read it.
 
Beautiful, silly, and heroic.
 
5. My New York (Kathy Jakobsen)
And it should be on your list, too, based on your recent blog posts. :-)
 
6. But Not the Hippopotamus (Sandra Boynton)
Boynton! BOYNTON! BOYYYYNNN-TOOOONNNNNN!!! Who cares if they're categorized as board books or whatever? Give Ms. Boynton some love, people. I suppose her votes were split twenty ways, or it fell into the wrong category, or maybe there's a snob factor at work because her lesser stuff sometimes feels less like "art" or "literature" and more like "product." I don't care. And the verses all scan. And the illustrations are funnier than Dr. Seuss'.
 
Such expressiveness.
 
8. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (Scieszka/Smith)
Tee-hee.
 
9. Great Moments in Architecture (David Macauley)
Tee-hee, again. I worship the illustration entitled "Finding the Vanishing Point."
 
10. Good Night, Gorilla (Peggy Rathmann)
Yes, she can be on the list twice. It's a tricky feat to be both cozy and hilarious, but she pulls it off here.
 
Honorable mention:
Irving and Muktuk: Two Bad Bears (Daniel Pinkwater)
The Piggy in the Puddle (Pomerantz/Marshall)
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch... (Noble/Ross)
To Market, To Market (Miranda/Stevens)
Max's Breakfast (Rosemary Wells)
Song of Night (Nakamura/Riley)
The Dumb Bunnies Go to the Zoo (Dav Pilkey)
 
And of course, if I chose my list tomorrow it would look different. I'd bet all of the voters felt this way.
 
Enjoy, and love to all,
James


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Sheesh. I haven't even read three of these books. Let this be a warning to older siblings every where: the little sibs can catch up mightily. Even if they work in a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FIELD. Bravo, James! And thanks for writing my post for me ;-)

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