Responding to the MotherReader Challenge:
Best Books of 2007 (So Far) — Picture Books
(and A Bit of Poetry Thrown in As Well)

h1 September 12th, 2007 by jules

Remember when MotherReader did this last year? In September, she asked the kidlitosphere to come up with their top picks of the year (thus far, that is), and then she compiled everyone’s choices into that master list linked there. Well, she’s suggested it again for this year. Here’s what she had to say about it:

“We can consider it a public service toward next summer’s reading lists, and school librarians’ fall ordering, and just plain reading choices for people everywhere. If you want to join in, post your ‘Best Books of 2007 (So Far)’ in any or all of the categories: Picture Books, Early Elementary, Elementary, Middle School, High School. Mix in your nonfiction or graphic novels by the age categories. Narrow it down to five choices per category (I know it will be tough) . . . My ultimate plan is to pull together the posts into one big list by the middle(ish) of September . . .”

I had to read and re-read and re-read again that narrow-it-down-to-five-choices part. I know MotherReader is a laid back, easy-going gal and will not care if I post more than five, but I’m gonna try to follow the rules here. Limiting to five will be hard — but perhaps the mental exercise will be good for me.

And I want to add my usual disclaimer: I have not read everything. I mean, it truly is some kind of crime that I haven’t yet read Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s Cowboy & Octopus. Can I just say that a) I don’t get review copies from Viking Juvenile, and b) I don’t understand for the life of me why the OPACs of both library systems I use do not even register the title. Hubba hubba wha? This is also some kind of crime, but I digress.

I’m going to tackle Picture Books here, followed by a small stab at Poetry, because that is all I feel qualified to do. I read middle-grade and YA on a regular basis, but I’ve read way more picture books this year. I counted and I’ve reviewed approximately 115 picture books from ’07 (thus far) here at 7-Imp. I’ve read more than that, but most of them that are making my lists below are ones I’ve reviewed here (since I review the ones that I think are outstanding in one way or another), so I’ll link my choices to my reviews — which include why I loved it; the month of publication; the publisher; the web sites, if applicable, of the author and/or illustrator; and all that important stuff, if you care to know it. Here goes:

* * * * * * *

Jules’ Seven (Changed My Mind at the Last Minute! PSYCHE! We are “7-Imp,” after all) Top-Pick Picture Books Thus Far This Year:

*1. Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett — reviewed here.

*2. Jonathan-Bean-Tie (sorry): The Apple Pie That Papa Baked and At Night — the first by Lauren Thompson and illustrated by Jonathan Bean and reviewed here; the latter both written and illustrated by Jonathan Bean (and pictured above), and the review is here.

*3. The End by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Richard Egielski (pictured above) — reviewed here.

*4. Pssst! by Adam Rex — reviewed here.

*5. Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard (oh that lovely psychadelic art like none I’ve seen this year!) — reviewed here . . .

. . . and, yes, numbers six and seven (forgive me, MotherReader) . . .

*6. The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington and illustrated by Shelley Jackson (and pictured at the top of this post. Just look at that cover!) — reviewed here.

*7. A Good Day by Kevin Henkes — reviewed here . . .

and, Holy Exclamation Marks, it’s too hard to narrow, so . . .

*7½. The Wall by Peter Sis — reviewed here with Eisha’s help.

* * * * * * *

Jules’ Ten Honorable Mentions Which I Could Have Easily
Slipped Into the List Above

*1. Yo, Jo! by Rachel Isadora — reviewed here.

*2. What Happens on Wednesdays by Emily Jenkins — reviewed here.

*3. Red Red Red by Valeri Gorbachev — reviewed here.

*4. Penguin by Polly Dunbar — reviewed here.

*5. Fred Stays With Me by Nancy Coffelt and illustrated by Tricia Tusa — reviewed here.

*6. Very Hairy Bear by Alice Schertle and illustrated by Matt Phelan — reviewed here, in which I think I might have maybe mentioned a few times that I want to crawl into these illustrations and curl up and live a while.

*7. The Zoo by Suzy Lee — reviewed here.

*8. Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems — reviewed here with Eisha’s help.

*9. Mary and the Mouse, The Mouse and Mary by Beverly Donofrio and illustrated by Barbara McClintock — reviewed here.

*10. Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories by Laura Vaccaro Seeger — reviewed here.

* * * * * * *

Jules’ Ten Honorable Honorable Mentions Which I Could Have Easily Slipped Into the List Above This One (Just Humor Me)

*1. The Wish by Elle van Lieshout and illustrated by Erik van Os — reviewed here.

*2. The Little Red Fish by Taeeun Yoo — reviewed here.

*3. Who’s Hiding? by Satoru Onishi — reviewed here (a perfect pre-school gem).

*4. The Bunnies Are Not in Their Beds by Marisabina Russo — reviewed here.

*5. Little Donkey and the Birthday Present by Rindert Kromhout and illustrated by Annemarie van Haeringen — reviewed here.

*6. Thank You Bear by Greg Foley — reviewed here.

*7. That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell and illustrated by Neal Layton — reviewed here (a brand new, unforgettable heroine of children’s lit, this Emily Brown is).

*8. New Clothes for a New Year’s Day by Hyum-Joo Bae — reviewed here (oh the sartorial bliss and the detailed, elegant illustrations!).

*9. I’d like to add 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore by Jenny Offill and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (reviewed here), but — as I understand it — it’s a December ’06 publication. Am I wrong? So, instead I’ll make it The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong and illustrated by David Roberts (Candlewick; February 2007; pictured above), which I loved (seven cheers for creative conservation!) but haven’t gotten around to reviewing yet (can someone add more hours to my day, please?).

*10. I’m half-way adding Little Night here (reviewed here), which has drop-dead gorgeous illustrations, but the abrupt ending (which shouldn’t stop you from seeing it anyway) gives me an excuse to say I could possibly perhaps add instead:

Every Season by Shelley Rotner and Anne Love Woodhull with photographs by Ms. Rotner (Roaring Brook Press; March 2007; pictured above) — I also haven’t gotten around to reviewing this one yet, but it’s excellent all around . . .

or . . .

Pictures from Our Vacation by Lynne Rae Perkins — reviewed here . . .

or . . .

Lucky Jake by Sharon Hart Addy and illustrated by Wade Zahares (Houghton Mifflin; May 2007; pictured above) — This is also still sitting in the to-review pile, but you can’t miss this one this year, particularly for what Booklist described as Zahares’ “cutting edge art.”

or . . .

Mini Mia and Her Darling Uncle by Pija Lindenbaum (R & S Books; September 2007) — This is also in my to-be-reviewed pile, but just know for now that I heart it so much . . .

or . . .

A Second is a Hiccup by Hazel Hutchins and illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton — reviewed here.

(MotherReader probably gave up on me a looooong time ago) . . .

* * * * * * *

Jules’ Pick For Flat-Out Funniest Yet Most Under-Rated
Picture Book of 2007 Thus Far:

The Perfect Nest by Catherine Friend and illustrated by John Manders (Candlewick; February 2007) — I have yet to cover the story of zee perfect nest here at 7-Imp, but ¡caramba! and sacré bleu! and great balls of fire! but this book is funny (it’s single-handedly responsible for my 3.5 year-old running around screaming “Great balls of fire!” repeatedly, too). And School Library Journal and I agree; they call it “laugh-out-loud funny” in their starred review. I hope to review it here soon.

* * * * * * *

Jules’ Five Favorite Picture Book Poetry Anthologies
Thus Far This Year And Then I’m Going to Stop Already

*1. Today and Today — haiku by Issa and illustrated by G. Brian Karas — reviewed here.

*2. Today at the Bluebird Cafe by Deborah Ruddell and illustrated by Joan Rankin — reviewed here.

*3. Animal Poems by Valerie Worth and illustrated by Steve Jenkins — reviewed here.

*4. Here’s a Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry — Collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters — reviewed here (can you call this a “picture book” — it’s an illustrated anthology of children’s poetry, like a bigger, thicker picture book. So, I’m putting it into this category anyway. I think I’ve bought this for at least four newborn gifts this year. Perfection).

*5. This is Just to Say: Poems of Apology and Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski — reviewed here (can this be put into a “picture book” category, too? Dunno. It’s for readers a tad older. But I’m including it anyway).

* * * * * * *

Yeah, five. Riiiiight.

Think MotherReader will still speak to me?

10 comments to “Responding to the MotherReader Challenge:
Best Books of 2007 (So Far) — Picture Books
(and A Bit of Poetry Thrown in As Well)”

  1. Great lists, Jules — even if it went past 5. Even though it went past 11.

  2. It’s not Mother Reader you need to worry about, but my librarian. I’ve put most of these on hold.

  3. Hey, jules, guess what I did today? I went to the library and brought home picture books! Sadly, all of your picks today were either checked out, or not in the library system yet. I did get Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich before the Halloween rush!

  4. I’d put Scribble on my list. My kids (10, 7 and 4) all loved The End. (I found it from your review–thanks.) Does There’s a Bird on my Head by Mo Willems count as a picture book? That one gets us cracked up everytime. And, we loved the sequel to Scaredy Squirrel.

    ‘Love your site.

  5. I’m a fan of the Chicken Chasing Queen, and I actually bought it new to use in storytimes. I’m going to be pretty lame when it comes to raving about pb titles this year, as my eyes glaze over them unless the bloggers rave, rave, rave.

  6. Thanks. Glad to be on your list. (Glda to be on anyone’s list if truth be told, there’s a lot of great books out there!)


  7. Omigod, that was like the Energizer Bunny of lists.

    I totally understand how hard it is to limit the choices when we see so many great picture books. I liked a lot of what you listed. Some I haven’t even seen yet.

    I tend to choose my top five (or seven, I’ll give you that) based on the ones that I really hate to return to the library. I then think which five would I want to buy for my baby niece’s bookshelf. Which books does she just HAVE to read someday.

    Thanks for playing.

  8. Would you mind submitting some of these to my Picture Book Carnival?

  9. […] Pop over to 7imp’s lovely list of Best Picture Books of 2007. […]

  10. […] done by Jonathan Bean, an illustrator for whom I have already declared my great love this year (here and here and here and here and here. […]

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