Tag Archives: New York Times Best Illustrated Book

Duck for President

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Like When Dinosaurs Came with Everything and Monkey and Me, this book arrived in a Cheerios box in 2008 (as I’ve mentioned before, the best year ever for the spoonfuls of stories promotion in our house). Although they don’t get the legion of historical/political references yet, the boys love Duck (who was first introduced in Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type) and this book (in which Duck makes his way from the farm to the Governor’s Mansion to the White House and back home again) is very popular.

Author: Doreen Cronin
Illustrator: Betsy Lewin

Saint George and the Dragon

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In the days when monsters and giants and fairy folk lived in
England, a noble knight was riding across a plain. He wore heavy
armor and carried an ancient silver shield marked with a red cross. It
was dented with the blows of many battles fought long ago by other
brave knights.

The Red Cross Knight had never yet faced a foe, and did not even
know his name or where he had been born. But now he was bound on
a great adventure, sent by the Queen of the Fairies to try his young
strength against a deadly enemy, a dragon grim and horrible.

This is not a short read aloud and it is (unsurprisingly) quite gory. But it is interesting and strange and has dragons. The boys love it.

Author: Margaret Hodges/Edmund Spenser
Illustrator: Trina Schart Hyman

The Odd Egg

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All the birds had laid an egg.
All except for Duck.
Then Duck found an egg!
He thought it was the most beautiful egg in the whole wide world.

Well after all of the other birds’ eggs hatch (in a sequence making clever use of paper engineering), Duck keeps faith in his egg. Ignoring the other birds’ overt skepticism, Duck waits and waits until his very special, surprising, hatchling makes a grand entrance. The boys really enjoy this book; it is sweet, short, and very funny.

Author: Emily Gravett
Illustrator: Emily Gravett

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

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Amos McGee works at the City Zoo. Every day, he gets up early and rides the bus to work. Although he has “a lot to do at the zoo,” he always makes time “to visit his good friends” (an elephant, tortoise, penguin, rhinoceros, and owl). But one day, he awakes “with the sniffles, and the sneezes, and the chills.” He can’t go to work. So his good friends come to him.

This gentle book is the reading equivalent of lemon tea with honey. Warm, comforting, and sweet, it is good for what ails you. (And I like to think its red balloon is a homage to another of our favorites, Good Night, Gorilla.)

Author: Philip C. Stead
Illustrator: Erin E. Stead

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

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High above
there is the Moon,
cold and quiet,
no air, no life,
but glowing in the sky.

Here below
there are three men
who close themselves
in special clothes,
who–
click–lock hands
in heavy gloves,
who–
click–lock heads
in large, round helmets.

It is summer here in Florida,
hot, and near the sea.
But now these men are dressed for colder, stranger places.
The walk with stiff and awkward steps
in suits not made for Earth.

This outstanding book tells an amazing story, reads like poetry, is full of interesting facts, and is beautifully presented. It is not a short book, but reading it aloud is a pleasure.

Author: Brian Floca
Illustrator: Brian Floca

 

Flotsam

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As we’ve discussed before, David Wisener’s work is nearly wordless and always carefully-plotted, mixing the familiar with the very strange. (Although it is very different, it reminds me of Shaun Tan’s excellent, wordless, graphic novel, The Arrival–which I look forward to introducing the boys to when they are bit older.)

Flotsam is the tale of an underwater camera that washes up on a beach with some very unusual pictures waiting to be developed. Among its other virtues, it is the perfect bedtime book for when you’ve lost your voice to a summer cold (assuming you’ve already explained the concept of “film” that needs to be developed during previous readings).

Author: David Wiesner
Illustrator: David Wiesner

The Animal Family

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Once upon a time, long, long ago,
where the forest runs down to the
ocean, a hunter lived all alone in a
house made of logs he had chopped for
himself and shingles he had split for
himself. The house had one room, and
at the end closest to the ocean there was
a fireplace of pink and gray and green
boulders–the hunter had carried them
home in his arms from the cliff where
the forest ended….

In spring the meadow that ran down
from the cliff to the beach was all foam-
white and sea-blue with flowers; the
hunter looked at it and it was beautiful.
But when he came home there was no
one to tell what he had seen–and if he
picked the flowers and brought them
home in his hands, there was no one to
give them to. And when at evening,
past the dark blue shape of a far-off
island, the sun sank under the edge of
the sea like red world vanishing, the
hunter saw it all, but there was no one
to tell what he had seen.

This strange and beautiful book has hunters and mermaids; bears and lynxes; loneliness, love, and luck; and moments of violence and deep sadness. More than anything else it is about making a family.

Author: Randall Jarrell
Illustrator: Maurice Sendak

The Bat-Poet

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Once upon a time there was a bat–a little light
brown bat, the color of coffee with cream in it.

In this quiet little book, a bat-poet strives to develop and share his art and to connect with others. It is soft, beautiful, cozy, and just right for reading before bed.

Author: Randall Jarrell
Illustrator: Maurice Sendak

Encyclopedia Prehistorica series

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Layers upon layers of scientific information are presented in this series through eye-popping pop ups (each double page spread has one big pop up, plus lots of smaller ones hidden in mini-attached pages). It is perfect for kids who love animals and science (and have learned to be gentle with delicate books).

Author: Matthew Reinhart
Illustrator: Robert Sabuda

The Napping House

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There is a house,
a napping house,
where everyone is sleeping.

And in that house
there is a bed,
a cozy bed
in a napping house,
where everyone is sleeping.

A beautifully-illustrated rainy day, cozy bed, sleepy family, and unexpected visitor combine with gently-rhythmic prose to create a warm and funny book.

Author:  Audrey Wood
Illustrator: Don Wood