Stack Overflow: Picture Books

Books Stack Overflow

A Home for BirdA Home for Bird

A Home for Bird – written and illustrated by Philip C. Stead

This book had my daughters giggling endlessly — when Vernon the toad discovers a small blue bird (who fell out of a cuckoo clock), he thinks the silent Bird is just shy. But when Bird fails to open up, Vernon worries that maybe he misses home, so the determined toad sets out to find Bird’s home. Bird is a good demonstration of the Kuleshov Effect (which I learned about in Colin Fischer), in which the viewer projects their own feelings onto an expressionless face.

Kel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt ShowKel Gilligan's Daredevil Stunt Show

Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show – written by Michael Buckley, illustrated by Dan Santat

Watch as Kel Gilligan, “The Boy Without Fear,” performs some daring feats: getting dressed BY HIMSELF! Keeping himself busy while his mom finishes a phone conversation! Facing the fearsome BATH TIME! Illustrated by Dan Santat, this book will help younger kids laugh at some of the things they find distasteful or scary. The best part is the crowd of incredulous onlookers who are astounded by each “stunt.”

Moving HouseMoving House

Moving House – written and illustrated by Mark Siegel

Siegel, an editorial director of First Second Books, created this charming book about a house that doesn’t want to be left behind. Joye and Chloe are getting ready to move — they live in Foggytown, where the fog is unbearably thick, and their parents are finally calling it quits and packing up. But their house has other ideas and runs up to a hill, out of the fog. Pretty soon other buildings perk up and decide to join them. Maybe what appeals to me so much about this one was the wish that I’d been able to pick up my own house from Tribune and move it when we came out to Portland.

Hide and SeekHide and Seek

Hide and Seek – by David A. Carter

Carter is well-known for his elaborate pop-up books. Each of the six spreads in Hide and Seek has a list of items to find — some are hidden within illustrations, some are three-dimensional bits and pieces, and some are hidden behind flaps or dials. You do have to be careful opening up the book with little kids, but the paper structures are impressive and kids will have fun searching for the hidden objects (even if they’ve found them before).

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: The Great Pancake AdventurePaul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: The Great Pancake Adventure

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox: The Great Pancake Adventure – written and illustrated by Matt Luckhurst

In the tradition of telling tall tales, Luckhurst takes the story of Paul Bunyan and stretches it even further. In his story, Paul and Babe were just big fans of pancakes, and all those stories about digging the Grand Canyon or creating the Rocky Mountains left out the real story: it all happened in the pursuit of pancakes. The illustrations are colorful and over-the-top (as they should be). If your kids don’t know about Paul Bunyan and Babe, this isn’t the traditional story but it’s a fun way to start.

Little Bitty Man and Other Poems for the Very YoungLittle Bitty Man and Other Poems for the Very Young

A Little Bitty Man and Other Poems for the Very Young – written by Halfdan Rasmussen, translated by Marilyn Nelson & Pamela Espeland, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

This collection of poems was translated from the Danish but keeps its meter and rhyme. Most of the poems are very short, brief enough to hold a very young child’s attention, and most have some humor to them. They’re like Shel Silverstein, but maybe a little less cranky, and Hawkes’ illustrations make a gorgeous counterpart. My only complaint is that I wish there were more of them.

The Frank ShowThe Frank Show

The Frank Show – written and illustrated by David Mackintosh

Grandpa Frank is sort of boring — he doesn’t like music or noise or gadgets or … well, let’s face it, a lot of things. But for show-and-tell, this little boy doesn’t have anybody interesting to bring, like Kristian’s comedian dad and Tom’s musician uncle. But when he actually takes Grandpa Frank to school, he discovers some fascinating things about his grandpa that he never knew. The Frank Show is about the things we can learn from the older generation, even the ones that we think are old and boring.

Randy Riley's Really Big HitRandy Riley's Really Big Hit

Randy Riley’s Really Big Hit – written and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

Randy Riley is a science nerd who loves baseball, but being brilliant at physics doesn’t necessarily make you a great baseball player. However, when Randy discovers a massive fireball headed toward Earth, he’s the only one who seems to care … and has the wits to come up with a baseball-inspired solution. The 1950s-era setting is perfectly rendered in Van Dusen’s illustrations, and you’ll love a story about a little geek who saves the world (or at least his town).

The Table That Ran Away to the WoodsThe Table That Ran Away to the Woods

The Table That Ran Away to the Woods – written by Stefan Themerson, illustrated by Franciszka Themerson

This is an English translation of a Polish book published in 1963, based on an idea as old as the 1930s. The author’s table one day decided to grab some shoes and head to the forest, where it takes root and returns to nature. It’s a short little story that has fable-like qualities, though the moral is left for the reader to figure out. The illustrations are a combination of ink drawings, paper cutouts, and photocopied photos. A note at the end of the book tells more about the Themersons, prominent Polish avant-garde filmmakers.

Disclosure: GeekDad received review copies of these books.

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