My favorite 30 picture books of 2018

I looked at hundreds of picture books in 2018 and loved a lot of them. Here are 30 of my favorites in alphabetical order by title:

Alma and How She Got Her Name, illustrated and written by Juana Martinez-Neal, published by Candlewick Press, ISBN: 978-0763693558.

Spanish edition: Alma y Cómo Obtuvo Su Nombre, illustrated and written by Juana Martinez-Neal, published by Candlewick Press, ISBN: 978-0763693589.

In Juana Martinez-Neal’s beautiful and playful Alma and How She Got Her Name (also available in Spanish: Alma y Cómo Obtuvo Su Nombre), the young heroine first gripes about her long name. It’s so long it never fits on a single piece of paper. After hearing her complaint, Alma’s bespectacled Daddy tells her the story of how she received her full name. A loving family tale emerges on the ensuing pages. Using graphite, colored pencils, and print transfers on handmade textured paper, the artist gives us spare bursts of colors (muted pinks and blues popping in mostly grayish-white spreads) that jump off the page.

A Big Mooncake for Little Star, illustrated and written by Grace Lin, published by Little, Brown and Company, ISBN: 978-0316404488.

Wow, what a cosmic delight A Big Mooncake for Little Star is. In a quick’s author note, Grace Lin writes how she wanted to create a tale that celebrates the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, while giving the story a mythological feel. So Lin gives young readers a deliciously surreal night-time romp that feels like a classic long lost Chinese folktale. Set against black backgrounds, the book introduces us right away (on the endpapers) to a little girl named Little Star, who wears striking star-covered pajamas. She helps her Mama (wearing similar PJs) make a giant mooncake (the traditional food enjoyed during the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival) that indeed looks scrumptious. After the mother places the moon in the sky, she reminds her daughter not to touch the Big Mooncake until instructed. Enchanting and lovely, Grace Lin’s latest will make little ones go “whoa” in between appreciative giggles.

blue, illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, published by Roaring Brook/Neal Porter, ISBN: 978-1626720664.

In terms of overall design, Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s blue works as a companion to her earlier Caldecott Honor winning concept book green. The books share the same look (the covers resemble each other thanks to the font, the use of lower case letters). Also, Seeger employs similar artistic techniques (acrylic paint on canvas; small peek-a-book die cuts throughout). Only two words appear on his each spread. Yet unlike greenblue tells a linear story that captures the complexity of the color blue which calls to mind things that are warm and comforting, but also sad and haunting. The emotional story at the heart of blue is of a boy and his dog. Seeger gives us snapshots of their lives as they grow up together. A page that says “baby blue” shows a puppy and baby snuggling, “ocean blue” a shot of them playing in the water, and so on. Using various shades of blue, Seeger conveys a wide variety of moods and emotions. Especially when the dog starts to age, and heartbreak becomes inevitable. blue never feels manipulative or cheap. It earns its tears honestly.

 

Dreamers, illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales, Holiday House/Neal Porter Books, ISBN: 978-0823440559.

Soñadores (Spanish edition): 978-0823442584.

Always a surrealist, Morales gives each illustration a dreamy, off-kilter edge. Above all, Dreamers/Soñadores, a deeply personal look at the author/illustrator’s own immigrant experience, is a book above love. A love between mother and child. A love for creating art. A love for books. A love for language. A love for libraries. In times so troubling and heartbreaking, Morales gives the reader a book filled with hope. I have read the book several times and still the final words lift my heart every time: “We are stories. We are two languages. We are lucha. We are resilience. We are hope. WE are dreamers, soñadores of the world. We are Love Amor Love.” Beautiful, just beautiful.

Ducks Away, illustrated by Judy Horacek, written by Mem Fox, published by Scholastic, ISBN: 978-1338185669.

Originally published in Australia in 2016, but finally arriving in the US in January 2018, this preschool-friendly mathematical romp stars a mother duck and five little ducklings. While crossing a bridge, the little birds each fall, one by one, into the water below, and this dramatic action leads to a sound and satisfying lesson in subtraction. Horacek’s adorable illustrations are crystal clear, easy to follow, and Fox’s language has a compelling rhythm that works with the youngest of crowds. I have read this to many groups and the children love it. Especially the ending which has the feathered little ones begging their mom to take the plunge too. A fun addition to preschool storytimes.

The Field, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara, written by Baptiste Paul, published by North South, ISBN: 978-0735843127.

I wish The Field had a subtitle. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a solid title. However, it only slightly hints at the messy muddy gooey action found in this rollicking book about a group of kids enjoying a futbol (soccer) match in the Saint Lucia rain. I wish the subtitle could be something like Epic Muddy Futbol Match. Or Squish Squish Kick Kick. But then again, as a title, The Field is quick, to the point, and has a nostalgic feel. Interjected words in Creole fuel Baptiste Paul’s zesty prose. Alcántara’s figures delight (I love the cow’s expressions as a child attempts to shoo them to a different part of the field). The excitement of the game is palpable. Then when the rains come the book soars to another level of coolness, visually and as a story. The players decide to not let some raindrops get in the way of their fun, and soon they are dashing, splashing, slip-sliding, and belly flopping in the mud.

Hello Hello, illustrated and written by Brendan Wenzel, published by Chronicle Books, ISBN: 978-1452150147.

The wow factor. That’s what Brendan Wenzel’s latest celebration of the natural world Hello Hello has throughout, but especially when you reach a double page spread that is filled with animals big and small. Against a spare white background, each creature manages to pop off the page and make an impression. And all of them have those Brendan Wenzel Eyes (I call them Wenzelian)–googly and warm and friendly (he truly has a unique, distinct style). His love for these animals is apparent. Although Hello Hello can be seen as a fun romp that finds similarities and differences between a vast variety of species, the message he delivers is sobering one: many of them are endangered, near threatened, vulnerable, or critically endangered. He invites readers young and old to try and save them.

A House That Once Was, illustrated by Lane Smith, written by Julie Fogliano, published by Roaring Brook, ISBN: 978-1626723145.

Two kids (a boy and a girl) stumble on a deserted house with boarded up and smashed windows. They climb in, carefully avoiding the jagged glass. Once inside they explore the rooms and wonder about the home’s departed occupants. Why did they leave these many objects (books, bottles of olive oil, even a set of house keys, others) behind, the children wonder? Thanks to Julie Fogliano’s vivid poetic language, A House That Was Once Was is a story that begs to be read aloud…but in a whispering voice. Lane Smith’s inventive illustrations add to the mysterious atmosphere. Smith has these amazing ability to create works with cool-looking textures. The spreads with the children walking around the house have an almost washed-out look to them. You feel as if you are breathing in the dust.

Imagine!, illustrated and written by Raúl Colón, published by Simon & Schuster, ISBN: 978-1481462730.

There have many books about children discovering art. There have been many books celebrating the joys of having a fun day in the city (and in the case of Imagine!, New York City). But there has never been a book quite like Raúl Colón’s Imagine!, a simply fantabulous wordless follow-up to the brilliant artist’s Draw! (2014). Imagine! mixes two things this singular artist loves: enjoying artistic masterpieces and living in the city. It’s a deeply personal work, the same way Draw! (about a bed-bound boy who escapes into his drawings of safari animals) is. And it’s an exhilarating piece of work…and funny and witty, too.

In The Past, illustrated by Matthew Trueman, poems by David Elliott, published by Candlewick Press, ISBN: 978-0763660734.

Raise your hand if you know a child who loves dinosaurs. Okay, you can put your hands down now. Poet David Elliott joins forces with artist Matthew Trueman to create one of the most dynamic books about prehistoric life  I have ever encountered. Just look at those amazing portraits that would show perfectly across the room to large storytime groups. Using mixed media, Trueman gets the reader up close and personal with a Megalodon with its ginormous teeth, a Mammuthus with its enormous tusks, a Quetzalcoatlus with its imposing beak, among many others. Meanwhile, Elliott creates witty, sometimes second person poems that both celebrate and tease them about their grandeur. About the aforementioned Brachytrachelopan: “And that name!/You should renounce it./It takes a genius/to pronounce it.”

Julián Is a Mermaid, illustrated and written by Jessica Love, published by Candlewick, ISBN: 978-0763690458.

Some picture books feel like instant classics. You look at the art and immerse yourself in the book’s world and by the end, you cannot think of the world without the book. Julián Is a Mermaid, released on April 23, 2018, joins this esteemed list. I know this seems like an over-the-top compliment, but seriously, this wondrous work has earned these raves, this praise, all the starred reviews. And even praise from the divine RuPaul! The book ends with a parade, a celebration, slightly surreal but positively heartwarming. And the fitting ending for a book that deserves to be celebrated.

King Alice, illustrated and written by Matthew Cordell, published by Feiwel and Friends, ISBN: 978-1250047496, ARC reviewed, to be released: September 25, 2018.

There’s a detail I love in Matthew Cordell’s absolutely hilarious King Alice, about an exhausted father trying to keep up with his imaginative, rambunctious, and demanding (but lovable) daughter on what appears to be the umpteenth snow day in a row. Whenever the titular character thinks of something new to do she doesn’t say “Oh, I have an idea,” she yells “Idea!” and then proceeds to reveal the new plan. This may seem strangely specific to praise, but hey in comedy, timing is everything. And in picture book comedy, the way the writer words things matters. The succinct way Alice says “Idea!’ says everything about her character: she’s confident, blunt, and you better go along with her IDEA. But most of all: it’s funny…every time she says it.

 

The Little Red Fort, illustrated by Sonia Sánchez, written by Brenda Maier, published by Scholastic, ISBN: 978-0545859196.

Serving up a fresh retelling of a classic folktale takes skill and talent. There have been many versions of The Little Red Hen for example. So how does one offer a new, unique take on the tale’s rather simple plot (hen asks for help when making bread, and everyone else says “not I,” causing the hen to do all the work on her own)? Luckily clever writer Brenda Maier has found a way to do exactly that with The Little Red Fort, a witty and vibrant new addition that would be perfect in storytimes not just about fractured fairy tales, but also about girl power, teamwork, resourcefulness, and siblings. Not to mention mothers and daughters bonding together to create something really really cool. Vibrant, colorful work from the gifted Sonia Sánchez.

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein, illustrated by Júlia Sarda, written by Linda Bailey, published by Tundra, ISBN: 978-1770495593.

Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein turns 200 this year, and this properly creepy and goth picture book biography emerges as a perfect way to introduce young readers to the 18-year-old author who created it. I pretty much love everything about this account: the layout, the design, the book’s dimensions (tall, like the monster), and of course the art and writing. Júlia Sarda’s brilliant, slightly macabre (but not overly so) art captures the eye right at the very start, and Linda Bailey’s text has an interactive immediacy to it that captivates the reader. She asks questions throughout, involving the audience. She skillfully employs the present tense, and this grabs you and never lets go.

Mommy’s Khimar, illustrated by Ebony Glenn, written by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, published by Salaam Reads (an imprint of Simon & Schuster), ISBN: 978-1534400597.

“A khimar is a flowing scarf my mommy wears,” the young girl narrator says at the very start of this vibrant, colorful book that radiates joy and pride. The instantly lovable child reveals that her mother has many khimars of different colors. Some have stripes, others have polka dots, some have tassels, and others beads. She loves all of them (although the yellow one is her favorite). Many of the best 2018 picture books pop with child-like wonder and enthusiasm, and Mommy’s Khimar emerges as the happiest of them all thanks to Thompkins-Bigelow’s warm, energetic prose (perfect for storytimes) and Glenn’s effervescent digital illustrations. The drawings in this charmer flow across the page, with the girl’s body language and expressions inviting readers to share her sense of fun.

Neck & Neck, illustrated and written by Elise Parsley, published by Little, Brown and Company, ISBN: 978-0316466745.

It’s Giraffe Vs. Giraffe-Shaped Balloon! Neck & Neck chronicles a game of one-upsman(giraffe)ship that gets sillier and funnier. I have always enjoyed Parsley’s work, but Neck & Neck has popped out as my new favorite by her. The characters’ expressions, her use of perspective and white space on some spreads, the narrative’s twists and turns, and a satisfying resolution all add up to a book that should become a staple in rollicking, humor-packed storytimes.

Nothing Stopped Sophie, illustrated by Barbara McClintock, written by Cheryl Bardoe, published by Little, Brown and Company, ISBN: 978-0316278201.

Bardoe’s crisp prose effectively gets inside Sophie’s head, explaining how “Math, with its clear and simple laws./Math, with its strong sense of order” helped Sophie make sense of her world. The great illustrator Barbara McClintock also takes the reader inside Sophie’s mind. She fills her illustrations (colorful markers, gouache, collage) with witty mathematical details. What’s especially impressive about Nothing Stopped Sophie is how it manages to feel both epic and intimate. It covers many years in its subject’s life. And yet not a single word feels wasted. The book never gets bogged down in excessive detail. The child reader walks away feeling that they have been on a journey through Sophie’s life, appreciating that she achieved so much and never gave up.

Ocean Meets Sky, created by The Fan Brothers, published by Simon & Schuster, ISBN: 978-1481470377.

Brothers Terry and Eric Fan (known for their much loved The Night Gardener) create magical moments that feel both epic and intimate, universal and personal. Ocean Meets Sky, which they wrote and illustrated, takes the reader to the high seas, and the journey is laced with philosophical longing. A child named Finn remembers his now deceased Grandfather once telling him about a place where the ocean meets sky. On what would have been his elder’s 90th birthday, the resourceful boy builds a boat and searches for this cherished place.The spare yet poignant language and the graphite illustrations (colored digitally) work together to make Ocean Meets Sky one of the most loving, memorable dedications to a loved one I have ever seen.

A Parade of Elephants, illustrated and written by Kevin Henkes, published by Greenwillow Books (an imprint of HarperCollins), ISBN: 978-0062668271.

The high-spirited and deceptively simple A Parade of Elephants has a bit of a rollicking spirit, but although the five pastel-colored beasts march about, the book still glimmers with a gentleness that invites reflective “aaaaahs” and “oooohs” from young children. Presented in the same square-like dimensions as the fun EggParade serves that same preschool audience. It has a bold font and a clear design; thick borders surround the characters. After an eventful journey, Henkes brings things to a quiet resolution with the elephants exhausted, yawing and stretching…and then in a magical moment that moves the book up to a higher level they lift their trunks and trumpet. Stars pop out of their trunks, scatter, and then fill the skies. And quietly and surprisingly A Parade of Elephants becomes one of the strongest bedtime books of the year.

The Patchwork Bike, illustrated by Van Thahn Rudd, written by Maxine Beneba Clarke, published by Candlewick, ISBN: 978-1536200317.

Some picture books come along and they rattle your world because they feel new and alive, offering fresh insight and an innovative approach when telling a story. The Patchwork Bike, first published in Australia (where it won a Children’s Book Council of Australia award) and New Zealand in 2016 and now being released (thankfully) here in the States in 2018, is one such book, a visually inventive look at how a girl and her brothers zip, zoom, and whoosh along on their bicycle made from various spare recycled parts. The words pop and zing, the illustrations burst with exhilarating energy. I have never seen a book that looked and sounded like this one.

The Rabbit Listened, illustrated and written by Cori Doerrfeld, published by Dial Books for Young Readers, ISBN: 978-0735229358.

A comforting book that mixes heartbreak with humor, and one that taps into a deep understanding of a child’s emotional landscape. Doerrfeld’s quick, direct prose snaps; there isn’t a single wasted word. In a beautiful moment, one of the sweetest rabbits in all of children’s picture book history, comes to Taylor’s side and quietly cozies in, not pressuring Taylor to do anything at all. This is great advice when encountering someone who is sad: let the person have their emotions, feel their sadness, don’t tell them how to feel, just be there. It’s all handled so beautifully.

Seeing Into Tomorrow, biography and illustrations by Nina Crews, haiku by Richard Wright, published by Millbrook Press, ISBN: 978-1512418651.

Thanks to her distinct photocollage technique, Nina Crews’ books look like no others. And her latest Seeing Into Tomorrow emerges as a vibrant and moving celebration of boyhood with often stylized, overlapping photographs (causing a panoramic look) of boys enjoying the outside world. A beautiful haiku by the legendary African American writer Richard Wright inspires and accompanies each double page spread. And if you are a fan of Donald Crews’ Caldecott Honor winning classic Freight Train (and his other great books), you will happily notice that he appears in one of the photographs, standing with his grandson while looking at, of course, a freight train!

Teddy’s Favorite Toy, illustrated by Madeline Valentine, written by Christian Trimmer, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, ISBN: 978-1481480802.

A delightful celebration of imaginative play that also defies conservative notions of gender, the kinds of toys boys play with (and does so in the most nonchalant, least preachy way possible). Written with succinct grace by Christian Trimmer, Teddy’s Favorite Toy tells of a  very expressive boy who loves all kinds of toys, including his supercool truck that he can sit on, a hula hoop, a rocket, a puzzle, and others…but he loves an amazing multi-talented doll the most. After accidentally tossing the beloved toy out, Mom must spring into action to save the day, performing moves that Zoë Bell would envy. Illustrator Madeline Valentine’s warm and amusing illustrations, rendered in gouache and pencils and then composed digitally, do a splendiferous job capturing the action.

Thank You, Omu!, illustrated and written by Oge Mora, published by Little, Brown and Company, ISBN: 978-0316431248.

2018 has been a great year for picture books celebrating gracious, generous behavior. In these troubled times, these heartfelt creations have done a superlative job showing readers (not just child readers) that kindness can still exist and empathy can prevail. Oge Mora’s tender and very personal Thank You, Omu! certainly emerges as yet another prime example of a beautifully rendered work about goodness and caring behavior. Thank You, Omu! does a lovely job capturing the beautiful soul of this compassionate title character who treats an entire neighborhood to her scrumptious stew. Mora uses inventive collage (acrylic paint, china markers, pastels, patterned paper, and old-book clippings) and as a result, each spread bursts with color and child-like wonder. Without feeling cluttered, each image invites exploration, possessing clever details designed for re-visits and re-examinations.

They Say Blue, illustrated and written by Jillian Tamaki, published by Abrams, ISBN: 978-1419728518.

How absolutely gorgeous and thoughtful this book is. With swirling brush strokes and flowing vibrant imagery, this philosophical creation gets inside the head of a curious girl thinking about the natural world around her, and, when thinking about the blood flowing in her veins and the heart pumping said blood, inside her. Removing the cover offers an abstract visual treat: a special surprise painting of birds and splashes of color. There isn’t a plot per se, but we readers follow the girl as she thinks about the colors around her, trying, for example, to understand why blue ocean water suddenly becomes clear as you hold it.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy, created by poet Tony Medina & 13 Artists, published by Penny Candy Books, ISBN: 978-0998799940.

Just look at the illustrators involved with this project. Listed in the order found on the back of the book: Floyd Cooper. Cozbi A. Cabrera. Skip Hill. Tiffany McKnight. Robert Liu-Trujillo. Keith Mallett. Shawn K. Alexander. Kesha Bruce. Brianna McCarthy. R. Gregory Christie. Ekua Holmes. Javaka Steptoe. Chandra Cox. 13 of the very best artists working in the field today. The brilliant Tony Medina has penned 13 poems (each written in the tanka form: 31 syllables over 5 lines) about black boys, and each poem is accompanied by a piece of art that beautifully captures the moods of Medina’s creations.

This Is My Eye: A New York Story, pictures and text by Neela Vaswani, published by Candlewick, ISBN: 978-0763676162. 

Many books for young readers instruct the audience to look at the world around them, to examine their surroundings. The vibrant new photographic essay This Is My Eye, with its wondrous views of urban beauty, makes one of the strongest cases for people to do so. And while we are at it, the book suggests, why not take some cool photographs? The author’s note states that she snapped more than half of the photographs on a smartphone (the others on a “refurbished digital SLR camera”). So reader, you can do this too!

The Truth About Bears, illustrated and written by Maxwell Eaton III, published by Roaring Brook (A Neal Porter Book), ISBN: 978-1626726666.

Maxwell Eaton III promises “seriously funny facts about your favorite animals” on the cover of this book and wow, does he ever deliver. This fantastic title zips along from one punny joke to the next, all the while unveiling some fascinating child-friendly facts about bears. Also, like Brendan Wenzel’s playful yet sobering wake-up call Hello Hello, Eaton reminds young readers that many of these creatures are threatened and/or endangered, hopefully planting seeds about wildlife conservation in their minds. Eaton’s cartoon-like illustrations invite us into the animals’ worlds; he uses warm colors that work well with the amusing, lighthearted, yet at times subversive tone. This excellent series includes books about dolphins, hippos, and soon crocodiles.

The Visitor, illustrated and written by Antje Damm, published by Gecko Press, ISBN:978-1776571888.

Antje Damm creates a diorama-like world for a fearful character named Elise who resides in a stylized three-dimensional space. Damm isn’t afraid to make the place look colorless and bleak. Suddenly a blue paper airplane flies into Elise’s neat and orderly space and she freaks out, becoming too scared to sleep. Damm shows us what Elise fears: that even more airplanes will come soaring into her house. Visually, the book rises to a whole other level of inventiveness when a child comes the next day to claim his plane. He brings bright, warm colors with him. At first Elise finds him unwelcome, but soon his youthful curiosity and energy win her over, and the colors start filling the room. It’s absolutely enthralling, and it all leads to a great final moment that feels reassuring and hopeful.

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, illustrated and written by Ryan T. Higgins, published by Disney/Hyperion, ISBN: 978-1368003551.

Ryan T. Higgins once again proves to be a master of comic timing. This ferociously funny tale serves as a “first day of school” etiquette book (and possibly an anti-bullying book) that also spoofs this purposeful kidlit genre. In the text, Higgins delivers his story with a straight face, and this makes every startling visual joke in the illustrations all the more effective and hilarious. And his striking art (created using scans of treated clayboard for textures, graphite, ink, and Photoshop) pleases the eye as the outlandish situations tickle the funny bone. The book’s long rectangular dimensions help create a CinemaScope effect that makes the book an easy choice for diabolically minded storytimes.

 

Honorable Mentions: I also loved All of Us (illustrated and written by Carin Berger), Are You Scared, Darth Vader? (illustrated and written by Adam Rex), The Day You Begin (illustrated by Rafael López, written by Jacqueline Woodson), Dude! (illustrated by Dan Santat, written by Aaron Reynolds), Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years (illustrated by David Litchfield written by Stacy McAnulty), The 5′ O Clock Band (illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews), The FUNeral (illustrated and written by Matt James), Good Dog (illustrated and written by Cori Doerrfeld), Grains of Sand (illustrated and written by Sibylle Delacroix), Grandma’s Purse (illustrated and written by Vanessa Brantley-Newton), Grow Up David! (illustrated and written by David Shannon), Hello Lighthouse (illustrated and written by Sophie Blackall), A Home in the Barn (illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, written by Margaret Wise Brown), The Honeybee (illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, written by Kirsten Hall), If I Had a Horse (illustrated and written by Gianna Marino), Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise (illustrated and written by David Ezra Stein), Joan Procter, Dragon Doctor (illustrated by Felicita Sala, written by Patricia Valdez), My Hair Is a Garden (illustrated and written by Cozbi A. Cabrera), Never Satisfied (illustrated and retold by Dave Horowitz), New Shoes (illustrated and written by Chris Raschka), Night Job (illustrated by G. Brian Karas, written by Karen Hesse), Otis and Will Discover the Deep (illustrated by Katherine Roy, written by Barb Rosenstock), Play This Book (illustrated by Daniel Wiseman, written by Jessica Young), Rock ‘N’ Roll Soul (illustrated by Matthew Cordell, written by Susan Verde), Sometimes Rain (illustrated by Diane Sudyka, written by Meg Fleming), Star in the Jar (illustrated by Sarah Massini, written by Sam Hay), The Stuff of Stars (illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Marion Dane Bauer), The Tiptoeing Tiger (illustrated and written by Phillipa Leathers), The Very Last Castle (illustrated by Mark Pett, written by Travis Jonker), Vivid: Poems and Notes about Color (illustrated and written by Julie Paschkis), and The Wall in the Middle of the Book (illustrated and written by Jon Agee).

What a fantastic year!!!

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One thought on “My favorite 30 picture books of 2018

  1. Yes it is indeed a fantastic year, and of your 30 here I am fully and unequivocally on board with you for 23 of them. Not that the other seven are sub-par but just that I have a few other favorites, books like ADRIAN SIMCOX DOES NOT HAVE A HORSE; WE ARE GRATEFUL; HEARTBEAT, THE FUNERAL, IF I HAD A HORSE, FOX AND CHICK, A HOME IN THE BARN; NIGHT TRAIN, NIGHT TRAIN; HAWK RISING; THE STUFF OF STARS; PIE IS FOR SHARING; WATER LAND; HEY KIDDO; THE FAITHFUL SPY (the last two however probably would not fit comfortably into your categorization though, understandably). So thrilled to see THE PATCHWORK BIKE, which is one of the very best picture books this year from ANY country. I prefer “She Made a Monster” (Fulton/Sala) but your choice on that subject is exceptional as well. As always you set the standard and I’m grateful for this annual treasure trove and splendidly articulate qualification!! Oh that German book THE VISITOR you list is fantastic, one of the best of the year. 🙂

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