Books That Have Stayed with Me … and Inspired Me | Part 1

As you know, I’m not really into blog hops. I’ll do one if people ask me, but I never pass it along. I have a strict Blog Hops Die Here policy. I was recently tagged by Carrie Charley Brown on a Facebook-style hop where I was supposed to list 10 books that have stayed with me in some way.  Like I do with blog hops, I obliged and wrote my own Facebook status listing the books. And as I did it, I found that I had a ton of fun putting my list together.

Because the 10 books give some insight into who I am as a reader, and probably as a writer, I thought it might be interesting to share with my 3 (yes, I now have 3!) fans.

But rather than simply listing my ten books, I thought I would share a little bit about why these ten books are the ten I came up with. So here goes:

1. Iggy Peck, Architect written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts

Why this book? In short, utter inspiration.

Iggy Peck Architect

I’ve actually written about this book before, both on this blog and on Off the Library Shelf, my now sporadic family book review blog. But to put it plainly, Iggy Peck, Architect is the book that made me want to be a writer. The amazing complex rhymes along with advanced language provided the blueprint (pun intended) for my style. While I didn’t immediately begin writing when I first read this book, after reading it time and again, I realized that there simply weren’t enough books like Iggy Peck, Architect. Why were there so few advanced rhyming picture books? Was I just not finding them?

After I began trying to write them, I realized that one of the stumbling blocks is that it is, in fact, hard to write rhyme well. Over time I began noticing more good to great advanced rhyme from the likes of Corey Rosen Schwartz, Lori Degman, and others, but I still think books as good as this are rare. I can’t tell you how glad I am to have Rosie Revere, Engineer and now a 3rd Beaty/Roberts creation coming soon in Happy Birthday, Madame Chapeau.


2. The Adventures of Nanny Piggins, written by R.A. Spratt and illustrated by Dan Santat

Why this book? Humor for the entire family. And it was my introduction to Dan Santat’s illustrations.

The Adventures of Nanny Piggins

A few Thanksgivings ago, a wonderful singing librarian recommended this book to me to read to my many many children. The character of Nanny Piggins is utterly ridiculous and perfectly hilarious. I read this book out loud not only to the all the children in my family, but also Mama Funk, who happened to be within earshot at first, but stayed within earshot for the entirety. Children of all ages, from 2-89 will enjoy this book (I haven’t read it to anyone over 89, so I can’t say for sure, but it’s likely they would enjoy it, too).

Spratt has 2 sequels released in the states, although last I checked there were about 8 or 9 released in Australia (and the last time I checked was a while ago). Keep buying these, Americans, so Little, Brown will keep selling them here.

And although it’s only 1 picture per chapter, Santat’s illustrations are an impeccable fit. After I read this, I started seeing his illustrations everywhere. And for good reason. Santat’s talent is paramount.


3. Vunce Upon a Time, by J. Otto Seibold and Siobhan Vivian

Why this book? A Halloween story, a love story, a vegetarian vampire story, and candy.

Vunce Upon a Time

This book works on many levels, yet it pushes the limits of certain standards. There aren’t too many picture books about vampires, especially ones done well – possibly for good reason, the whole blood drinking thing isn’t totally age appropriate. But this book makes it work without a second thought. This book flipped vampires on their heads and made the vampire the scared character. While that isn’t a totally new tactic, it works particularly well with one of the fiercest and most menacing of all creatures in fiction. Everything about this book is completely unbelievable, in a totally believable way. Seeing my children (yes, the many many of them) react to this dark and scary scenery in such a comfortable way made me realize that kids’ books didn’t have to be all cozy and positive. And that’s really stuck with me.

To top it off, Dagmar is a great character, the illustrations are fabulous, and it has one wordless Where’s Waldo-type spread that’s a blast to stare at with the kidlings.


And since I’ve already written so many words, I’m gonna stop this post here and continue it at a later time, sharing 4 through 10 at that point. Toodle-oo.


Jump to Part 2

Jump to Part 3

One thought on “Books That Have Stayed with Me … and Inspired Me | Part 1

  1. I love reading about what has shaped you into the amazing writer that you are! Like you, as I listed my books, there were stories behind each. For a guy who says “all blog hops die here,” I think you actually started one. 🙂


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