I’ve got an almost-two-year-old, so I’ve spent a lot of time in the last year or so reading picture books. This, after spending a lot of my own childhood reading them.
I’ve reread some books I loved as a kid. Some hold up, some don’t. Yeah, maybe my daughter likes them, but they’re not still fun for me to read.
The best picture books, though, are still fun to read, even though I’m 30+ years older than their target audience. The best of them aren’t just good. They aren’t even just great. They’re masterpieces of the picture book medium.
My nominations, old and new:
Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, which I actually like even more now than I did as a kid.
Dr. Seuss: If I Ran the Circus. So far my favorite of the Seuss we’ve read together.
Chris Raschka: Charlie Parker Played Be Bop, my daughter’s first favorite book.
Ludwig Bemelmans: Madeline, which I never read as a kid but which my daughter and I both love now.
Mo Willems: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Genius – I’ve read this (and the sequels) 100+ times each, out loud, and I still enjoy it.
Ezra Jack Keats: The Snowy Day, which has a great eye for ramshackle aimlessness.
Ian Falconer: Olivia.
Don Freeman: Corduroy – the original is awesome, Freeman’s sequel is OK, the modern-day versions by Lisa McCue are travesties.
I’m sure there are a few I’ve overlooked (in addition to the ones I’ve left off the list: Curious George, I love you and you’re pretty good, but you don’t hold up).
What picture books do you think are masterpieces of the form?