As 2012 rapidly approaches, all of the "best of" lists for 2011 begin to appear. There are so many amazing picture books from 2011 that I can't pick a favorite. While we're waiting for the news from the Mock Caldecott Election and the official announcement from the American Library Association, I thought I'd take a few minutes and review some of my favorites of the past year.
Brian Selznick's newest "picture novel," Wonderstruck, may be a similar format to 2008's Caldecott recipient The Invention of Hugo Cabret, but reaches new heights of illustration and storytelling perfection. Selznick tells two stories, one in prose and the other in picture and manages to perfectly weave two incredible adventures together through these two mediums. At a whopping 637 pages, this one is heavy, beautiful, powerful, and quite possibly another gold medal for the author/illustrator.
Where's Walrus by Stephen Savage is a wordless picture book about a walrus who escapes from the zoo and the zany "disguises" he uses to hide from the pursuing zookeeper. Young readers will quickly find the hiding walrus, but there is great delight in the fact that we can see him, but the zookeeper cannot. Follow Walrus on his day away from the zoo through simple illustrations full of bright colors that tell a fun, silly story that is sure to entertain.
There are many books for children on the water cycle but George Ella Lyon and Katherine Tillotson truly created a work of art on the subject with All the Water in the World. The poetry and pictures combine to make a truly enjoyable non-fiction picture book that, although it addresses water conservation, never feels didactic.
If pressed to choose a favorite picture book of the year, it would be Blackout by John Rocco. During a blackout in NYC, everyone's regular activities screech to a halt and the residents find great joy in a party on the rooftops. When everyone spills into the streets to feast on the melting ice cream, we see a community coming together. Rocco's sweet story unfolds through exquisitely sweet and warm (despite the dark palate of a star-lit night) full-bleed paintings that any picture book enthusiast would fall in love with.
All of these books will be part of our Mock Caldecott Election at Salem Public Library from Jan. 2-21 so please stop by to see them or any of the other great picture books of 2011. To place a reserve, call 330-332-0042 or visit our Web site at www.salem.lib.oh.us.