It has been an exciting year with so many breathtaking, inspirational, and captivating books to read. We couldn’t settle for a top 10. Below are our Top 24 picture books of 2017…
After the Fall
After the Fall is all heart. An inspiration. I’m a fan of Dan Santat. Beekle. Love it! Are We There Yet? Great fun! After the Fall. Best yet!!!! The ending blew me away. Brought me to tears, almost. They were welling. It was one of those moments when you’re going about your day, then look up and see a stunning sunset. An awe moment. A gasp moment.
Here We Are
Oliver Jeffers creates a narrative from the heart. A sincere, funny, wonderful welcome to the world full of facts, advice, messages of kindness, empathy and hope. No doubt, this was a labour of love, and it shows. Yes, Jeffers’ work is always impeccable, but this one for me goes beyond perfection. All parents everywhere will want to pick up Here We Are right away!
If I Had a Little Dream
If I Had a Little Dream, it would be to explore the curious and colourful worlds created by Melissa Castrillón. Open the cover of a book illustrated by her and you’re opening the door to a wish, to wonder, where you can wander. Melissa’s work takes reality and embellishes it with imagination, layers upon layers of fantasy, graceful curves, playful patterns, charming details and texture.
What first captures your attention is Perfectly Norman’s bright—seriously bright—cover and the clever, effective use of colour contrasted against shades of grey in the illustrations. Secondly, you’ll fall in love with the tender story. Its message—We’re not made from cookie cutters, we’re not meant to be exactly alike. Difference is beautiful and perfectly perfect.
His Royal Tinyness
“Once upon a time there was a Happy Family…Until on horrible, NO GOOD day, when a new ruler was born…” This is the funniest book. There are many that share a similar message to help kids adjust to new additions to the family, but none as hilarious as “this terrible true story.” The illustrations are of course exceptional. David Roberts creates the best characters and detailed imagery. We linger on every page.
Not Quite Narwhal
From start to finish this book is adorable, words and pictures. Sima’s illustrations shimmer with magic and enhance the story, sharing more than what’s said. Kelp is a pearl born in a clamshell, precious and perfect. Though he isn’t a biological narwhal child, he’s protected, cared for and loved. The visual humour is gentle and delightful. Various themes flow effortlessly throughout.
Over and Under the Pond
The worlds over and under the pond are brought to life in placid and naturalistic tones. We observe an entire day, and by the end, are eager and ready to discover more. Detailed back matter helps us do this with an author’s note, about the animals section and further reading prompts. For the classroom, for the home, Over and Under the Pond will delight every reader, every explorer.
“Rapunzel made a plan. She worked on it secretly every day.” If you’re familiar with Woollvin’s work, then you know that there’s a delightfully dark twist in this retelling of the classic fairy tale. Rapunzel shows courage and spunk, she doesn’t wait around for a prince to rescue her, and she’s not only concerned about her freedom but also that of others who have been wronged by wicked witches.
The Book of Mistakes
“Do you see—how with each mistake she is becoming? Do you see—now—who she could be?” I’m completely infatuated with this book. It all started with one mistake, and then another. More mistakes, some good and some not so much. But oh what beauty can come from these mistakes—a beautiful oops, changes, discoveries, learning opportunities, all part of a creative process that can lead to magic and unlimited possibility.
The Snow Lion
“Sometimes the world feels very big. And sometimes you feel small. But sometimes all you need is a special friend to help you find the courage inside.” We all need a Snow Lion in our lives, to give us reassurance, courage and friendship. A comfort, a strength we can always turn to. We turn to stories, and if they’re all as warm and cheerful as The Snow Lion, there will always be a smile on our face and courage in our heart.
Malala's Magic Pencil
“Do you believe in magic?” Malala’s Magic Pencil is an inspiration for kids everywhere to speak up, stand up, and fight for what they believe in. “The magic is in you,” she says, “in your words, in your voice.” Malala is an inspiration. Her story has been tailored for a younger audience, with charming illustrations and an empowering message for both girls and boys.
The Bad Seed
Penguin Problems by Jory John was one of our Top Ten Books of 2016. Again with The Bad Seed, wit is used as a tool to impart an important message, one of understanding, compassion, and not being too hard on yourself. It’s cleverly and clearly told. A delight to read. Kids enjoyed the repetition of “A bad seed — A baaaaaaaaaaad seed” and Pete Oswald’s animated illustrations.
How to make friends with a ghost
The humour in Green’s How To Make Friends with a Ghost is subtle, surprising, spectacular. Every illustration is amazing, astonishing, astounding! The foreshadowing at the very beginning of the story is a touch of perfection, as are the wonderful glimpses into the relationship and lives and afterlives of our two protagonists, girl and ghost.
Grandad's Secret Giant
Litchfield’s message of acceptance and kindness is subtle yet powerful. He embraces serious subjects, those that may cause sorrow, and somehow makes them not only uncomplicated but delightful. We the readers are aware of the giant. Kids can find him on each page. Mistakes are made. They’re corrected. There’s sooooooo much goodness in this book.
This is a sweet tale with a charming and lovable protagonist. You just want to give him the biggest cuddle and spend all day with him and Bertolt. There’s humour, aw moments, the illustrations are playfully and picturesque, befitting the endearing storyline, and the ending—it’s perfection—so much so that you don’t want the story to end.
Waltz of the Snowflakes
Be captivated by this charming rendition—Waltz of the Snowflakes. Act one commences. The stage is vibrant. Readers are given the best seat of all—in clear view of the show and the reactions from the two children. Throughout, there are tiny moments of magic where a friendship blossoms. Closing endpapers continue the story, as new friends meet up for a sleigh ride.
The Secret of Black Rock
The Secret of Black Rock is layered with meaning. It highlights the impact we have on our environment and how dangerous it is if we are misinformed, uneducated, too quick to jump to conclusion, have a destructive attitude. It also calls attention to searching beneath the surface. Looking for the beauty within is always a message that merits repetition.
Don’t blink, even if your eyes start stinging, you CAN NOT blink. Just don’t blink. This is a serious staring contest, and the sweetest read. You may not blink, but you’re sure to smile. “Are you ready? On your mark… Get set… GO!” The illustrations captivate. Readers are brought into the story, they become a part of the fun. The repeated text and dearest character representations are wonderful for little ones.
Hortense and the Shadow
She was there, everywhere Hortense went. She copied everything Hortense did. And at night, she grew tall and crooked. Hortense tried her best to slip from sight, but she couldn’t hide from her shadow. Natalia and Lauren O’Hara have created an enchanting and timeless fairy tale, a folktale, an imaginative and unique look at notions of self and learning to love who we are.
Bob, Not Bob!
Bob, Not Bob! *to be read as though you have the worst cold ever. No need for us to put on muffled, heavy voices, as we’re all home sick. Between sneezes and sniffs, we were cuddling a little closer and laughing out loud. As we all know, laughter is the best medicine. If you’ve had better days, down with a cold, feeling a little low, slide this one out from the bookshelf.
The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse
“Oh woe!” said the mouse. “Oh me! Here I am, caught in the belly of the beast. I fear this is the end.” / “Be Quiet!” someone shouted. “I’m trying to sleep.” / The mouse shrieked, “Who’s there?” From the title, you may have guessed that the other poor soul swallowed whole is Duck, but you’ll be surprised by what the two get up to in Wolf’s belly. Sure stunner!!!!
I am a Cat
Not only do we learn fun facts about glorious big cats—that Pumas are also called Mountain Lions and that Panthers live in jungles and rainforest and sleep in trees—we are presented with an opportunity to talk about our own differences and similarities, diversity and inclusion. Simon is one wise teacher and this is an exceptional read.
I have been holding my breath in anticipation waiting to read this beautiful book, and it is as gorgeous as I imagined it to be. I’m still breathless looking over Dieckmann’s vibrant and elaborately textured illustrations. Tonal differences and depth are achieved by layers and layers of colour and pattern. White highlights and flickers make each page a magical scene.
The Girl Who Ran
The Girl Who Ran introduces children to Bobbi’s story. Shares her hopes, her unwavering determination, all in wild watercolors. Despite not having permission to compete in the Boston Marathon, she ran. In a pair of men’s running shoes, a black swimsuit, her brother’s shorts and a shapeless sweatshirt, she ran “like the wind in the fire.”
Well, that’s the roundup. Would you add any more books to this list? What are some of your favourite reads of the year?