Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Amazon's Best Books of 2013: Picture Books

So as I was poking around yesterday shopping for Christmas gifts, I came across their best books of 2013 lists.  Since I had discussed the Goodreads lists yesterday, I thought it might be fun to compare the Amazon books as well.

Amazon splits their books up by age category, so since I read a little bit of everything, I'm going to spend a few days looking at all the categories for children's books, which covers picture books through YA.  I'm skipping the board books because, well, I just don't read any board books.

So today's feature is picture books.  I don't read a lot of picture books, since I don't have any kids or nieces and nephews.  But I am a illustration junkie, and I am collecting picture books (slowly) for the day when I might have kids around to enjoy them.  So that being said, for those of you who might also be looking for new books to recommend to little ones, here's's choice of the best picture books of 2013 (with commentary from yours truly :)

1.  The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers - This one looks like a cute one. It actually won the Goodreads Choice Awards in picture books.  I love the idea of crayons "quitting".  If you're looking for a different picture book where office supplies come to life, I highly recommend The Little Red Pen

2.  Steam Train, Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld - A train book for kids, what's  not to like.  This one looks cute, I might have to grab it from the library to check out the illustrations further too. 

3.  Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney - Another addition to the Llama Llama series of picture books, so not surprising this one made the list. I haven't ever read any of these, but they must do well because there's way more of them published than I thought. Interesting that this one takes on the subject of bullying that seems to be prevalent these days.

4.   I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love by Nancy Tillman - Another one I am not familiar with. I sense that will be a theme on this post... This one looks like another sentimental, bring tears to your eyes picture book a la Love You Forever.
5.  Journey by Aaron Becker - The illustrations of this one look AMAZING. Looks like a wordless picture book from the preview on Amazon, but I'm not sure if it is or not. Reminds me of the graphic novel works that Kazu Kibuishi does.

6.  Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner - What's not to love with this one? It has a cat in it! The premise reminds me a bit of the Binky the Space Cat books.

7.  Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown - Not getting much about this one from the synopsis on Amazon. Looks like it might be interesting though. Does it make of anyone else think of Leo the Late Bloomer? I don't know why, maybe it's the tiger...

8.  Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson - This one looks cute. An interactive type book about the seasons. Very fun. But I'd have to say my absolute all-time favorite book about different seasons is Un-Brella by Scott Franson.

9.  Dream Animals: A Bedtime Journey by Emily Winfield Martin - I love how when a synopsis has "for fans of (Book A) and (Book B)" and I've never heard of either book, and therefore the comparison means nothing to me. Yeah, that's pretty much this book. Great looking illustrations though.

10.  Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street by Mark Lee and Kurt Cyrus - This books like a book my brother would have LOVED when he was growing up. Seriously, what little boy doesn't love a book about big trucks?

11.  Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett and Kevin Cornell - A counting book of sorts. It looks like the little details in the illustrations totally make this book what it is.

12.  Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea - Another finalist from the Goodreads Awards. I have to say I think I need to pick this one up. I love just about anything with unicorns, even sarcastically speaking. And if you'd like a recommendation for another mythological beast picture book, I absolutely adored reading Dragons Love Tacos earlier this year.

13.  Cowpoke Clyde and Dirty Dawg by Lori Mortensen and Michael Allen - Another kid no brainer. Love anything with cowboys. This one is written in verse too, which is pretty darn tricky to do! Seems like it would be easy, but somehow in a picture book it's not.

14.  If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano and Erin Stead - The synopsis on Amazon says this is a "quiet" picture book. Not really sure what that means, but if there's a cover I'd chose from these that's quiet, this would be it.

15.  The Bear's Song by Benjamin Chaud - This almost sounds a little bit like Finding Nemo, only with bears. The illustrations are definitely unique, but I'm not sure I'm sold on them yet. Guess I'll need to reserve judgement until I see them in person.

16.  Hello, My Name Is Ruby by Philip C. Stead - And for some reason, this one makes me think of Are You My Mother? Weird these connections my brain keeps coming up with...

17.  The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman and Bagram Ibatoulline - So this is the lone book on this list I've actually read. I enjoyed it, I thought it was an interesting concept, and it does a good job of getting the message across. The illustrations didn't particularly stand out to me, but I think they were appropriate for the subject. This is another one that made it on the Goodreads finalist list.

18.  Ol' Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein - I love squirrels. I think they're cute. But the squirrels in this book do not look cute. Hmmm... think this is one where the text better outshine the illustrations for sure.

19.  Daredevil: The Daring Life of Betty Skelton by Meghan McCarthy - I've never heard of Betty Skelton before, maybe because she's probably outshadowed by Amelia Earhart. But this looks like it might be interesting. I don't read a lot of non-fiction picture books, but my favorite that I read this year is from one of my favorite standby authors Kathleen Krull: Louisa May's Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women.

20.  Toys in Space by Mini Grey - This one reminds me a lot of Toy Story. It might be interesting to pick it up and see where they go with it.

Well, there you have it, Amazon's top 20 picture books for the year. But I have to say, I haven't read most of them, so I don't really know if I agree or not. But in the realm of picture books I've read this year, I highly recommend Mustache Baby, Memoirs of a Goldfish, and it's companion Memoirs of a Hamster. Great illustrations, great stories, great concepts. You can't go wrong with any of those 3 for sure.

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