Perfect Picture Books

by | Jun 2, 2023

I still buy picture books, occasionally for the young people in my life, but more likely for myself. Some I choose for the illustrations. They can be exquisite, moveable art galleries. Some I choose for, what I think, is the perfect balance of words and images. The perfect picture book.

Picture books might be short but they pack a powerful wallop. And they just might be the most difficult of creative endeavours. Each word is chosen as painstakingly and sparingly as in any poem. The illustrations bring more depth to the story, providing sub-text, humour, elevating and enriching. A writer/illustrator will of course be at a certain advantage to marry words and images. But sometimes they are two different creators. When the author and illustrator work together to get it right, my heart sings. And so will yours.

Some of my favourites:

From Farmer Duck, written by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

There once was a duck

who had the bad luck to live

with a lazy old farmer.

The duck did the work.

The farmer stayed in bed all day.

The duck fetched the cow from the field.

“How goes the work?” called the farmer.

The duck answered, “Quack!”

From Where the Wild Things Are, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak

The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind

and another

his mother called him “WILD THING!”

and Max said “I’LL EAT YOU UP!”

so he was sent to bed without eating anything.

From Please, Louise!, written by Freida Wishinsky, illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay

“Go away,” said Jake.

“I’m never going away,” said Louise.

“Then I’ll move and you’ll never find me,” said Jake.

“I’ll find you,” said Louise. “I know your name.”

“I’ll change my name,” said Jake.

And a few more jewels:

Something From Nothing, written and illustrated by Phoebe Gilman

Ruby the Copycat, written and illustrated by Peggy Rathman

Jeremiah and Mrs Ming, written by Sharon Jennings, illustrated by Mireille Levert

Lost and Found, written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers