The Picky Reader: Best Picture Books of 2014

The Caldecott Medal for excellence in picture book illustration will be announced in late January. But I’ll give you my list of favorites early! Get to the library or to your favorite bookstore and check these gems out.

Frazee, Marla. THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN. Beach Lane Books.

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A young clown falls off a traveling circus train and befriends a lonely old farmer. The illustrations in this wordless picture book feel whimsical and tender as a hug.

Chin, Jason. GRAVITY. Roaring Brook.

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Presenting the concept of gravity to even the youngest readers, this picture book’s illustrations and bold typeface explode with energy and tension.

Blackall, Sophie. THE BABY TREE. Nancy Paulsen.

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This well-paced picture book presents a child’s curiosity about where babies come from in a clever, humorous way.

DiPucchio, Kelly. GASTON. Illustrated by Christian Robinson. Atheneum.

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What happens when a poodle and a bulldog are switched at birth? This story emphasizes the power of family, and Robinson’s dog renderings are delightful.

Rocco, John. BLIZZARD. Disney-Hyperion.

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The author’s experience during the Blizzard of ’78 makes for a nearly perfect picture book that is bound to get any child excited for snow season.

Other notable titles:

  • Barton, Byron. MY BUS. Greenwillow.
  • Boyd, Lizi. FLASHLIGHT. Chronicle.
  • Colon, Raul. DRAW! S&S: Paula Wiseman.
  • Donofrio, Beverly. WHERE’S MOMMY? Illus. by Barbara McClintock. Schwartz & Wade.
  • Jenkins, Steve. EYE TO EYE: HOW ANIMALS SEE THE WORLD. HMH.
  • Johnson, Angela. ALL DIFFERENT NOW: JUNETEETH, THE FIRST DAY OF FREEDOM. Illus. by E.B. Lewis. S&S.
  • Lewis, J. Patrick. HARLEM HELLFIGHTERS. Illus. by Gary Kelley. Creative Editions.
  • Morales, Yuyi. VIVA FRIDA. Illus. by Tim O’Meara. Neal Porter (Roaring Brook).
  • Muth, Jon J. HI, KOO! A YEAR OF SEASONS. Scholastic.
  • Offill, Jenny. SPARKY! Illus. by Chris Appelhans. Schwartz & Wade (Random House).
  • Pett, Mark. THE GIRL AND THE BICYCLE. S&S.
  • Portis, Antoinette. FROODLE. Roaring Brook.
  • Powell, Patricia Hruby. JOSEPHINE: THE DAZZLING LIFE OF JOSEPHINE
  • BAKER. Illus. by Christian Robinson. Chronicle.
  • Ruzzier, Sergio. A LETTER FOR LEO. Clarion.
  • Samworth, Kate. AVIARY WONDERS INC. SPRING CATALOG AND INSTRUCTION MANUAL. Clarion.
  • Sis, Peter. THE PILOT AND THE LITTLE PRINCE. FSG.
  • Stewart, Melissa. FEATHERS: NOT JUST FOR FLYING. Illus. by Sarah S. Brannen. Charlesbridge.

Many thanks to my loyal cohort of Mock Caldecott Medal debaters for helping me pare my list.

May the best book win!

Holding books for children to the highest standard, Elaine Dimopoulos teaches writing and children’s literature at Boston University, Simmons College, and Grub Street. Find her at http://www.elainedimopoulos.com.

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One Response to The Picky Reader: Best Picture Books of 2014

  1. Vivien Mallick says:

    Thanks for this helpful list, Elaine! Just ordered three of these books for my niece’s birthday present!

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