SLJ's Best Books of 2006

Just got an email in my box that announced the release of SLJ’s Best Books of 2006!  Hurrah!  I always love getting these lists of books and discovering what I missed out on through the year.  Enjoy!

Max's Words

Max’s Words by Kate Banks, pictures by Boris Kulikov.

Max has two brothers.  Benjamin collects stamps and Karl collects coins.  Neither will give Max even a single stamp or coin for himself.  So Max decides to start his own collection, of words.  He starts with small words and moves on to larger ones.  When his brothers boast that they have thousands of stamps and hundreds of coins, Max says that he is saving to have enough for a story.  Max starts to sort through his words, and his brothers are caught up in the joy of creating a story too.

Banks has written a readable, friendly book about the joy of language.  Her word choices are wonderful, and you can tell that she had quite a large collection to choose from herself.  Kulikov’s illustrations add a whimsical, humorous side to the story, especially in the section where the words that Max is collecting are listed.  He uses graphics mixed with the words themselves to create a visual feast of words. 

My youngest son is an emergent reader and loved being able to match the words I was reading aloud with their graphic depiction.  The story is rich and wonderful and begs to be shared with children.  Kindergarteners through second graders should enjoy the story and may be prompted to start their own word lists or even their own stories. 

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? is a series of illustrations by famous children’s book illustrators that give the punch line to the gag.  The list of illustrators is amazing with people like Marla Frazee, Mo Willems, David Shannon, Tedd Arnold, Jerry Pinkney and many many others.  Some of the spreads are wordless, others offer a punchline.  It is a book that showcases the breadth of talent and types of art happening in children’s literature today.  Anyone who loves picture books will find themselves happily turning from page to page, immediately recognizing the style of almost every illustrator.  The joy is seeing the art one after the other, like a visual who’s who of children’s artists. 

This was a joy.  It can be shared with children, especially those who enjoy art and will like looking at each piece slowly.  Children who have read a lot of books will also enjoy seeing their favorite artists next to others that they don’t know.  Pure children’s lit fun.