By Gloria Reichert
If you are a picture book writer, you know how important it is to keep up with books that have been recently published. These books let us know what topics are current and provide inspiration in many ways. Several picture books have caught my attention because of their messages and/or illustrations. Even though my list could go on and on, this short list of creative books provides some wonderful mentor texts for writers to consider.
Giraffe Problems by Jory John, illustrated by Lane Smith
“I feel bad about my neck. I do. I can’t hide it,” says Edward, the giraffe. He lists the reasons his neck gives him problems and also the ways he has tried to camouflage his neck. He envies other animals’ necks - until he meets Cyrus, the Turtle. The wonderfully creative illustrations and page folds further enhance the text and add to the enjoyment of the book. This companion book to Penguin Problems by the same team presents some important thoughts for all to consider.
Thank You, Omu, written and illustrated by Oge Mora
In this heartwarming tale, Omu looks forward to enjoying the pot of stew she is cooking for her evening meal. Its scrumptious smell drifts through the neighborhood. Drawn by the delicious scent, folks from the neighborhood knock on her door all day long. What should Omu do? Should she share with all these people? What will she have for dinner when her stew is gone? The ending is this 2019 Caldecott Honor Book is wonderful, and the fantastic cut paper designs supplement the text beautifully. I personally could read this book over and over.
My Heart, written and illustrated by Corinne Luyken
“My heart is a window.
My heart is a slide.
My heart can be closed
or opened up wide.”
The sparse lyrical text and exquisite illustrations guide the reader to an important theme: our hearts can guide us through all that befalls us if we listen to it. This book contains many messages about love and acceptance and should be required reading for everyone.
The next two books caught my attention because of the unique main characters – a rotten potato and a brick! They teach us that literally anything can become the main character in a story.
Rot, The Cutest in the World, written and illustrated by Ben Clanton
Rot, an adorable mutant potato, loves competitions and decides to enter a “Cutest in the World Contest.” He is certain he will win – until he sees the other contestants. Rot tries different things until he decides to just be himself.
Brick, Who Found Herself in Architecture, written by Joshua Dean Stein, illustrated by Julia Rothman
When Brick is a baby, she wonders what she might become and sets off on a journey to find her place in the world. She visits well-known brick structures around the world. The interesting back matter focuses on the architecture used in the book.
Hello, Lighthouse, written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall
This 2019 Caldecott winner showcases the gorgeous integration of text and illustration and serves as an outstanding mentor text. It transforms facts about lighthouses into a lyrical story about a lighthouse and its last keeper. This book is an excellent example of “showing,” not “telling.”
Hopefully, some of these books will inspire you and lead you to success in your own creative endeavors.