Concluding my non-blog hop post, the following books are ones that have stayed with me and inspired me as a writer (see Part 1 where I discuss books 1-3: Iggy Peck, Architect, The Adventures of Nanny Piggins, & Vunce Upon a Time and Part 2 where I discuss books 4-7: The Curious Garden, The Gardener, Jurassic Park, & The Sneetches). So let’s finish up:
8. Chicken Cheeks written by Michael Ian Black and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Why this book? It’s bare (pun intended), but it entertains adults as much as (or more than) kids
If you’re not familiar with Chicken Cheeks, watch this and you’ll get the picture:
If you’re not familiar with Michael Ian Black, you’re missing out. Bottom (another pun intended) line, while this story has a very loose plot, it’s the clever concept and stellar execution that make this book so entertaining.
And, just like Pixar does, picture books can and in some cases should be just as entertaining to adults as children. I’ve said it before (and I’ll say it again right now): I don’t want to be bored reading picture books to my many many kids. I promise you, the adult reader, that you won’t be bored reading mine.
9. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Why this book? An inanimate object never evoked so many emotions…
By inanimate object, I mean Edward Tulane – the china rabbit, not the book. It’s like Pinocchio without the magic … but more magical. It’s like Toy Story … but more real. DiCamillo has become (and continues to be) a master storyteller, each of her books being quite different from the next. And while this particular story didn’t win the coveted Newbery, it’s my favorite of hers. It’s got a timeless quality, Ibatoulline’s illustrations are a perfect fit, but it’s the emotional journey of the main character that really gets me.
Maybe I’m being tricked and it’s easier to write an emotional story told from the perspective of a character who never utters a single word to anyone for the duration of the story. Or maybe this is the best example of writing that makes a reader feel.
10. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths written and illustrated by Edgar Parin d’Aulaire and Ingri d’Aulaire
Why this book? It’s comprehensive, yet accessible by young children and finds a way to seamlessly retell stories leaving out the more adult topics.
It’s written and illustrated in the style of a children’s bible, but it contains fictional (or are they?) ancient stories. Every god is given an origin story and a classic parable or two. Every player from minor gods to major heroes gets a few pages summing up their importance. Not only is this the go-to Greek Myth resource for ages 5 and up, it shows how to retell stories – and retell them in short 1-2 page spurts that are still satisfying.
I’m not sure I’ll ever write anything like this, and maybe (fifty plus years later) books like this aren’t printed any more in today’s market (unless you’re Rick Riordan). But if I were a believer in the ancient Greek gods, D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths would be my bible.
And that’s my 10. Maybe 10 years from now I’ll have 10 completely different books….
What are your 10? (Post in comments)