My Top 35 Picture Books of 2014

This is my last list for 2014, but I saved the biggie for last.  There are many more that could have been on the list, but this is where I could bear to cut it off.  Enjoy!

Baby Bear Big Bug

Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson

Big Bug by Henry Cole

Blizzard Blue on Blue

Blizzard by John Rocco

Blue on Blue by Dianne White, illustrated by Beth Krommes

The Book with No Pictures Cat Says Meow: and other animalopoeia

The Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak

Cat Says Meow by Michael Arndt

A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream Draw!

A Dance Like Starlight by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Floyd Cooper

Draw! By Raul Colon

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas The Farmer and the Clown

Elizabeth Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox, illustrated by Brian Floca

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee

Firebird Flashlight

Firebird by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers

Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

The Fox and the Crow 21413862 

The Fox and the Crow by Manasi Subramaniam

Fox’s Garden by Princesse Camcam

Hannah's Night 19156005

Hannah’s Night by Komoko Sakai

Hunters of the Great Forest by Dennis Nolan

Jim Curious: A Voyage to the Heart of the Sea in 3-D Vision It's an Orange Aardvark!

Jim Curious by Matthias Picard

It’s an Orange Aardvark by Michael Hall

Jacob's New Dress The Lion and the Bird

Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman, illustrated by Chris Case

The Lion and the Bird by Marianne Dubuc

May the Stars Drip Down Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters

May the Stars Drip Down by Jeremy Chatelain, illustrated by Nikki McClure

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

The Promise Remy and Lulu

The Promise by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Laura Carlin

Remy and Lulu by Kevin Hawkes

The River Sam and Dave Dig a Hole

The River by Alessandro Sanna

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

Shh! We Have a Plan The Storm Whale

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

The Storm Whale by Benji Davies

Take Away the A Telephone

Take Away the A by Michael Escoffier, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo

Telephone by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jen Corace

This Is a Moose Three Bears in a Boat

This Is a Moose by Richard T. Morris, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman

Viva Frida What If...?

Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales, photographs by Tom O’Meara

What If…? By Anthony Browne

Winter Is Coming

Winter Is Coming by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Jim LaMarche

Review: A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins

a fine dessert

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Released January 27, 2015.

Follow one recipe through the centuries in this exceptional picture book!  Starting over 300 years ago in England, the book starts with a mother and daughter out picking blackberries.  Once home, the mother skims cream from the milk from their cow and whips it with a bundle of twigs for 15 minutes until she has whipped cream.  That is combined with squashed and strained blackberries mixed with sugar to create blackberry fool.  The fool then needs to be cooled, so they head to the hillside to chill it with sheets of winter ice that they store there.  Then the family enjoys it and the little girl licks the bowl clean.  As readers turn to the next family in Charleston, South Carolina about 200 years ago, they will notice so many changes just not in the recipe itself.  The method of refrigeration changes, the method of whisking the cream and the time it takes, the way they get the ingredients, and the family setting.  Next comes even more changes as the setting turns to a century ago in Boston and then the final family, a modern San Diego father and son.  Each family brings updates to the methods but enjoys the delicious dessert exactly the same way, with gusto!

Jenkins has an author’s note at the end of the book that further explains and points out the changes from one century to the next in the way food is procured and prepared.  Even the use of actual recipes only appears in the final family.  Written in a jolly way, this picture book uses repetition and patterns to make sure that children will see the differences in the way the food is prepared as the time passes.  It is a fascinating look at how food preparation has progressed but also in how very much has stayed the same.

Blackall’s illustrations are playful and clever.  She too uses repetition in her illustrations, showing the joy of licking the whisk or spatula and the final head dive into the bowl after the meal is complete.  There is a simplicity to her art as well, allowing the settings she conveys on the page to speak clearly.  One knows even without the words that you are in a different time and place thanks just to the illustrations.

A joy to read and share, this book has all the delight of a great dessert but is also packed full of historical information and detail.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Schwartz & Wade and Edelweiss.