Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems. Published 2004. Caldecott Honor 2005. Walker Books Ltd. ISBN: 9781844280599
I have always been fascinated by any form of art that combines scenes from the real world with cartoon figures, so natually I love the way Willems illustrates the Knuffle Bunny books. In this specific volume, I especially love the images of Trixie getting more and more upset as her baby talk is misunderstood by her father. I don't think I'd ever realized, in previous readings of the book, that we do actually see Knuffle Bunny go into the washer at the start of the story, but that was also a nice reward to put in for the more careful reader to find. It's no surprise to me that Willems continues to be so popular!
On Market Street by Arnold Lobel, illustrated by Anita Lobel. Published 1981. Caldecott Honor 1982. HarperTrophy. ISBN: 9780688087456
This is definitely one of the best alphabet books I have read. It combines the simplicity of a traditional lesson on the ABCs with the intricate artistry of wonderfully detailed illustrations. The figure depicted for each letter is dressed from head to toe in an object beginning with that letter. Where D stands for doughnuts, a woman is clothed in a doughnut dress. Where T stands for toys, puppets, figurines, and other playthings come together to create a colorful and amusing outfit filled with wonderful surprises for little eyes to delight in. The concept of this book seems so simple, and yet it's obvious the Lobels have serious talent.
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss, illustrated by Margorie Priceman. Published 1995. Caldecott Honor 1996. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. ISBN: 9780671882396
A trombone plays a solo, but when other instruments join in, the group becomes a duo, then a trio, and eventually an octet , a nonet, and a full-blown orchestra. The rhyming text doesn't quite work on every page, but the long sweeping lines of the illustrations give a perfect visual representation of musical sounds floating through the air. I would definitely consider including this book in a music or arts themed story time, and honestly, it might even make a nice flannel board!
King Bidgood's in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood. Published 1985. Caldecott Honor 1986. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN: 9780152055783
This has been a favorite picture book of mine for a long time. I love Don Wood's use of light and shadow, and all the gorgeous details of the various tub scenes. I think my favorite is either lunching in the tub or fishing in the tub. Each illustration completely transforms bathtime from something mundane into something extraordinary. I also love the king's jovial face, which lights up with mischief each time he invites someone to "Come in!" And of course, who doesn't love a story where the youngest and smallest turns out to be the only one who can save the day? I love the page as hero just as much as I love the grown-up king as the incorrigible little boy.