The New York Times and New York Public Library have announced their picks for the best illustrated books of the year. The winners are selected solely based on artistic merit. The New York Times also has a slide show of the winning artist’s at work. Here are the books on the list:
Another by Christian Robinson
The Boring Book by Shinsuke Yoshitake
Child of Glass by Beatrice Alemagna
The Farmer by Ximo Abadia
I Miss My Grandpa by Jin Xiaojing
Just Because by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
The Lost Cousins by B.B. Cronin
A Million Dots by Sven Volker
Monkey on the Run by Leo Timmers
Small in the City by Sydney Smith
What’s Your Favorite Bug? by Eric Carle and Friends (9781250151759)
Following the first two picture books in this series, this one focuses entirely on insects. As with the other boos, Eric Carle is joined by other illustrators who draw an image of their favorite insect, tell a little about it and explain why they love it. One of the major treats of this series is never knowing what the page turn will bring, since each double-page spread is done by a different illustrator.
This collection has racial diversity in the illustrators included and also has a nice mix of male and female artists. As with all of the books in the series, there is a wonderful diversity in the art styles as well. The design of the book and the order of the pages works particularly well. There are dark and bright pages that lead readers on a journey of light and shadow that is particularly effective when combined with the crawly nature of bugs.
Another winner in this series that will have you searching out new illustrators to see their full books. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy provided by Henry Holt.
How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex (InfoSoup)
How is a book made? Well this book was made in the regular way with an author making many drafts, and editor offering firm advice, an illustrator taking a long time to create the art, and it being printed halfway around the world. But it is also an amazing story and one that will surprise when the tiger keeps reappearing, the pirates raid the slow boat full of books, and the news that there is one last important piece to the book really being A BOOK. You will just have to read this book to see what that is.
Any book by Barnett and Rex is going to be wonderfully surprising and funny. This book is no exception. Barnett immediately makes sure that this book is not taken too seriously by starting it with him arm wrestling a tiger. The tiger then returns at important moments in the book, sometimes to be scared off and other times with a posse. The editor’s role is also depicted in the book with a lot of tongue-in-cheek but also honesty too. Throughout there is real information on how books get made with plenty of imagination added as well. Just like any book.
Rex’s illustrations are done with pencil on paper combined with photography. Some of the illustrations have cotton clouds and others are 3-d objects or 2-d objects photographed. This gives a great sense of space and distance, shadows lengthening across the page. Throughout the art is as clever as the words, which is a compliment to both.
A funny and imaginative look at the making of this book, both unique to this book and universal to the process. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
What’s Your Favorite Animal?
Eric Carle and many other well-known illustrators offer their personal favorite animals complete with a short piece about what animal they love and why. Turning the pages is rather like visiting a gallery of some of the top picture book illustrators working today. Turn the page and see Lane Smith’s choice of elephant, then Jon Klassen’s ode to his love for ducks, and Susan Jeffer’s beautiful look at horses. This work is fantastically lovely and personal to the illustrators. It is a pleasure to turn each page and take a journey through this book.
Readers may discover new authors and illustrators and seek out their work. But best of all, this is a wonderful look at well-known illustrators on a personal level. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt and Co.
Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
You know this book is going to be unique when you get introduced to the author and illustrator before the book begins. Then you meet Chloe, a little girl, who is the main character in the book. The story begins and Chloe is collecting loose change that she would use to ride the merry-go-round in the park as many times as she could. When she headed home, dizzy from the ride, she got lost in the forest. Then a huge lion jumped out at her! Except Adam Rex, the illustrator, did not draw a lion. He thought a dragon would be a much better choice. Mac Barnett, the author, doesn’t like that idea at all and insists that this is HIS book because he is the author. The fight goes on from there, until Mac feeds Adam to the lion that a new stand-in illustrator drew for him. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really like the art of the new illustrator and also finds that he can’t draw well enough himself to fill in for Adam. What is an author to do?!
I love books that break that fourth wall and take a look at the inner workings of the author/illustrator or involve the audience in an interesting way. The book’s art and writing are so closely integrated together that it is almost impossible to review them separately. The tone here is clean and clear until the fight scene where it becomes comically fraught with emotion. There are running gags, funny comments and lots of humor throughout the story that make it all the more fun to read.
The illustrations are inventive and add real dimension to the book. There are several elements at play. There are the figures done in clay that represent the author and illustrator. There are the flat drawings of Chloe and the lion. Then there is a stage where the book story takes place. It’s a wonderful mix of theater, reading, and art.
The silliness doesn’t stop at the end of the book, make sure to check out the author blurb at the back, along with the very short illustrator blurb. This book will thrill children with its silliness, dynamic illustrations, and its clever look behind the curtain of making a picture book. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from library copy.