Thursday, February 28, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #28 ::

Book #28 "The Cat in the Hat" by Dr. Seuss

Book #28 "The Cat in the Hat" by Dr. Seuss

One rainy day, mom goes to run some errands, leaving Sally and her brother home alone. The kids are bored, but then a mischievous cat shows up! Cat and his buddies cause so much chaos that the house ends up in shambles. Will they clean up in time and, more importantly, will the kids tell mom the true story?

This classic tale has all the Seuss trademarks: rhyming ridiculousness for read-aloud fun accompanied by the good Dr.'s signature artwork.

This concludes February's Top 28 Picture Book list, but stay tuned for March's 31 Runner-ups!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #27 ::

Book #27 "The Gruffalo" by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler (MSCED #56)

Book #27 "The Gruffalo" by Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler

A clever mouse defends himself from many would-be predators by outwitting them with a tall tale about a mythical beast, The Gruffalo! Ironically the mouse eventually runs into the gruesome Gruffalo and has to outwit him too! Written in iambic pentameter, this cute and clever "brains beating brawn" story also features whimsical cartoon artwork that will have the reader rooting for the underdog!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #26 ::

Book #26 "Grover's Own Alphabet" by Sal Murdocca (MSCED #55)

Book #26 "Grover's Own Alphabet" by Sal Murdocca

Grover literally bends over backwards to show us all the letters of the alphabet. He uses his own lovable furry blue body to contort into every single letter. A charming story with great vocabulary, fantastic artwork and beautiful design that will always hold a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf. Five year-old ME would have had this delightful Little Golden Book at #1 hands down. I still own my precious childhood copy which has endured many family outings, car rides and sick days.

Monday, February 25, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #25 ::

Book #25 "Scaredy Squirrel" by Mélanie Watt (MSCED #54)

Book #25 “Scaredy Squirrel” by Mélanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel is scared of almost everything. As a result, this quirky squirrel owns detailed plans, emergency kits, graphs, lists, and even comparison charts to keep him safe. One day, Scaredy is forced to leave his nut tree and face the big unknown… with some surprising results! This charming book series teaches us about facing our fears, taking chances and discovering new things. It also features scarily cute, clean and stylish art.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books # 24 ::

Book #24 "My Friends" by Tarō Gomi (MSCED #53)

#Top28 #PictureBooks Book #24 "My Friends" by by Tarō Gomi

A super sweet story about a little girl who shares many different things with the reader: all the different things she learns from her animal friends, from her grown-up friends and even her friend, the book. The bright, gorgeous watercolour art across the beautifully designed spreads will win you over right to the last heart-warming page.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #23 ::

Book #23 "Curious George Rides a Bike" by H.A. Rey (MSCED #52)

Book #23 "Curious George Rides a Bike" by H.A. Rey

Celebrating their 3rd year anniversary, the man with the yellow hat gifted George a new bicycle. Naturally this curious little monkey gets in trouble despite a good heart. Cute adventure story with lovely artwork, but it's the bonus origami lessons that made this book unforgettable! This childhood favourite was also the inspiration for our very own picture book, "The Pirate Girl's Adventure An Origami Adventure" by The Brothers Leung

Friday, February 22, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Boooks #22 ::

Book #22 "Oh no, George!" by Chris Haughton (MSCED #51)

Book #22 "Oh no, George!" by @ChrisHaughton

When Harry steps out for the day, George the dog wants nothing more than to be good. Unfortunately there are just too many temptations around, like an entire cake, the cat and some lovely dirt! Will George's best intentions be enough? The cute open-ended ending will make you smile! The delightful story + hilarious, stylish artwork + bold, gorgeous colours = sheer picture book delight

Thursday, February 21, 2013

:: Top Picture 28 Books # 21 ::

Book #21 "Little Hoot" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Jen Corace (MSCED #51)

Book #21 "Little Hoot" by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Jen Corace

Little Hoot was a happy little owl. He enjoyed school, playing with his buds and practicing staring. However there was one thing he did not like... bedtime! This little owl just wants to go to bed at a reasonable hour, like his friends do. Unfortunately his parents say that little owls have to stay up and play. This delightful twist on a common dilemma makes for the ultimate bedtime story. Also the artwork is just too good! Stunning compositions, gorgeous line-work, beautiful colour palette and adorable details - I can't say enough great things about this book.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #20 ::

Book #20 "Don't Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus!" by Mo Willems (MSCED #50)

Book #20 "Don't Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus!" by Mo Willems

Mo Willems engages the reader directly with specific instructions to refuse the pigeon's request to drive the bus in this zany read-aloud book. Naturally, the pigeon pleas his case with a series of hilarious arguments.

This book has cute, clean artwork with a lovely muted colour palette and was the first of many award-winning books for Mo Willems. I had the good fortune to meet him and hear him read at a Small Press Toronto event last year!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

:: Top Picture Books #19 ::

Book #19 "Squids will be Squids" by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith (MSCED #49)

Book #19 "Squids will be Squids" by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith

Warning: I LOL in a quiet book store during my first reading.

To tell stories about "annoying, weird, pain-in-the-neck people you know", you simply "change the people to animals and add a moral." That is how this hysterical collection of strange and silly fables came to be. A highly original and inventive book that is a hilarious read for both children and adults alike. It features wonderful collage art by Lane Smith and gorgeous book design by Molly Leach.

Monday, February 18, 2013

:: Top Picture Books #18 ::

Book #18 "The Three Robbers" by Tomi Ungerer (MSCED #48)

Book #18 "The Three Robbers" by Tomi Ungerer

Three ferocious robbers, each wielding a different weapon, robbed carriages and hid their treasures in a dark mysterious cave. One night during a heist, they rescue an orphan girl en route to her wicked aunt’s house. Their lives are changed forever. Armed with fantastic artwork this dark story reminds me how much I loved the raw and dangerous fairy tales my parents would read to us as kids!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #17 ::

Book #17 "I Can Fly" by Ruth Krauss & Mary Blair (MSCED #47)

Book #17 "I Can Fly" by Ruth Krauss & Mary Blair

This 1951 Little Golden Book classic stars an imaginative young girl who mimics all kinds of animals. The empowering rhymes are super fun, but it's Mary Blair's stunning artwork that will knock your socks off. Vibrant colours, beautiful compositions all oozing with delightful details will have you coming back time and time again. There is bonus sheet music with lyrics at the back of the book too!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #16 ::

Book #16 “The Birthday Presents” by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell(MSCED #47)

Book #16 "The Birthday Presents" by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell

Best friends Rabbit & Hedgehog don't celebrate their own birthdays or even recall when their birth dates are. So they decide to celebrate their birthdays together the very next day. Both friends try to find the perfect birthday present and inadvertently give each other the very best gifts ever.

This sweet story of two caring friends is part of a delightful Rabbit & Hedgehog series. Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell may be better known for their best selling "The Edge Chronicles" series, but Rabbit & Hedgehog will always be my favourite.

Friday, February 15, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #15 ::

Book #15  "Big Wolf & Little Wolf" by Nadine Brun-Cosme & Olivier Tallec  (MSCED #46)

Book #15 "Big Wolf & Little Wolf" by Nadine Brun-Cosme & Olivier Tallec

Big Wolf was living happily in solitude until, one day, Little Wolf wanders into his life. At first, Big Wolf is wary of the stranger's intentions, but slowly and begrudgingly he lets the little one into his life.

A tender tale about friendship and companionship featuring breathtakingly bold and sensitive illustrations. Just as Little Wolf has taken up a lot space in Big Wolf's heart, this book has taken up a lot of space in my heart.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #14 ::

Book #14 "Miss Nelson is Missing!" by Harry Allard & James Marshall  (MSCED #45)

Book #14 "Miss Nelson is Missing!" by Harry Allard & James Marshall

Uh-oh, the students of room 207 are at it again! When Miss Nelson's class misbehaves one too many times, a new teacher takes over. The kids think Miss Viola Swamp is witch, so they have no choice but to obey. The children learn the error of their ways and miss Miss Nelson dearly, but is it too late? This childhood favourite empowers the reader to solve the case of the missing teacher with a wink and a smile. A fun storyline that captivates readers until the very last page. James Marshal's signature artwork is packed with quirky & delightful details!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #13 ::

#13 "The Paper Bag Princess" by Robert Munsch & Michael Martchenko (MSCED #44)

Book #13 "The Paper Bag Princess" by Robert Munsch & Michael Martchenko

A fun and fantastic reversal of the classic fairy tale! Princess Elizabeth outsmarts a powerful dragon to rescue Prince (not so) Charming, wearing only a paper bag no less! Includes a historic picture book moment when the hero declares "you are a bum." Furthermore, the delightfully detailed illustrations are drawn by my long-time idol Michael Martchenko. This was his very first book in wonderful career of 100+ picture books (and growing!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #12 ::

#12 "Virginia Wolf" by Kyo Maclear & Isabelle Arsenault (MSCED #43)

Book #12 "Virginia Wolf" by Kyo Maclear & Isabelle Arsenault

Virginia wakes up feeling "wolfish" so her sister Vanessa does everything she can to lift her spirits. A sweet expression of sibling love and support by the wonderful Kyo Maclear. And Isabelle's breath-taking illustrations & hand written text not only compliment the story, but completely enriches it. Isabelle is truly a master craftsman of our times and completely deserving of the 2012 Governor General's Literary Award!

Monday, February 11, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #11 ::

#11 "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle    (MSCED #42)

Book #11 "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle

A story of a strange feast resulting in a transformation that illustrates how beautiful and mysterious nature can be. I remember turning every page eagerly find out where the hole led as the very hungry caterpillar ate his way through the book.

Eric Carle's distinctive collage style is warm and super rich with colours and textures. He also advanced the genre with his interactive cut-out designs and hand-made materials.

I personally can not think of a more influential artist in all my own picture book projects.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #10 ::

#10 Grumpy Bird" by Jeremy Tankard  (MSCED #41)

Book #10 "Grumpy Bird" by Jeremy Tankard

Bird wakes up particularly grumpy one morning and goes for a walk. His friends tag along to cheer him up... comedy ensues.

The expressive brush work mixed with bright colourful digital collage blend gorgeously together. This charming tale with it's exceptional artwork is a must have for any picture book library.

Friday, February 8, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #9 ::

Seems fitting to post tomorrow's book today...

#9 The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats  (MSCED #40)

Book #9 “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats

Follow the joy, beauty and magical sense of wonder experienced by a young boy’s first snowfall of the season. The colourful textured artwork is still as fresh today, as the first snowfall. This 1963 #Caldecott winner is one of the first #PictureBooks with an African American main character.

:: Top 28 Picture Books #8 ::

#8 Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel  (MSCED #39)

Book #8 "Frog and Toad Are Friends" by Arnold Lobel

Through five short stories this classic odd couple teaches us what genuine friendship is really all about. Both Frog & Toad have good heart and always looks out for one another. The delicate muted artwork really compliment the sweet delightful stories.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #7 ::

#7 Olivia by Ian Falconer (MSCED #38)

Book #7 "Olivia" by Ian Falconer

Olivia is curious, clever, creative and cute. She is one precocious pig packed with personality. Her bold, bustling and buoyant spirit sometimes gets her into trouble, but her understanding mother "loves her anyway". The union between the sparse, but rich text, colour palette, and lovely line-work is pure picture book elegance.

I can recall the very first time that I read this book in 2000.  It was at The World's Biggest Book Store and I spotted it from across the store. A pristine white cover in the mist of a colourful kids book section really stood out. I picked up the unassuming book and began flip through the pages. I laughed out loud as I followed this amazing pig's daily routine. She was a confident, creative and cute too.  I could not put the book down, because after I read it all the way through I reread it again. Part of the charm is that the text sets up the joke while the artwork perfectly delivers the punchlines.

I am pleased that simple book has grown into a series along with an amazing animated series. This is my go to board book for baby girls.

Also this past summer my brothers and I had the pleasure of meeting Olivia at The Word on the Street Book Festival! One of our many highlights are this wonderful book festival

The Brothers Leung meet Olivia!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #6 ::

#5 Harold and the Purple Crayon (MSCED #37)

Book #6 "Harold and the Purple Crayon" by Crockett Johnson

One night Harold decides to go for a moonlit walk. Unable to see, he draws a moon with his trusty purple crayon... thus begins a wonderful adventure that stretches the imagination, celebrates creative spirit and opens up a whole new world. This simple & elegant picture book is another childhood treasure.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #5 ::

#5 Where the Wild Things (MSCED #36)

Book #5 "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

After being sent to his room, a mischievous boy imagines a place where he and his monsters have a wild rumpus. Stunning line-work, gorgeous palette, fantastic rhythm and spare text makes this an unforgettable classic. My #1 childhood picture book still remains in my Top 5 today!

It also seems fitting to repost this Maurice Sendak tribute piece today:

"Where the Wild Things Are" was my favourite picture book while growing up.  Being a young trouble maker myself (that was regularly sent to his room), I could relate to Max.  Many years later while working in the picture book industry, I've appreciated Mr. Sendak's contributions even more.  He was bold.  He was honest.  He was a trailblazer that paved the way for all children book authors past, present and future.  Maurice Sendak was an inspiration to us all.

Rest In Peace Mr. Sendak, you will be missed.

Maurice Sendak Tribute

Monday, February 4, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #4 ::

#4 Extra Yarn (MSCED #35)

Book #4 "Extra Yarn" by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

A whimsical story of a young girl who finds a mysterious black box filled with yarn of every color. She shares her special gift in a cold little town with unexpected results. Pure Picture Book Delight! Best book of 2012.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #3 ::

#3 Zen's Shorts (MSCED #34)

Book #3 "Zen's Shorts" by Jon J. Muth

A beautifully crafted tale about a panda who befriends three siblings and tells each a parable that allows them to discover their own zen. The absolutely fantastic art shines and compliments the layered story perfectly.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #2 ::

#2 Lost and Found (MSCED #33)

#2 “Lost and Found” by Oliver Jeffers

A heartfelt tale about two strangers finding friendship unexpectedly. Gorgeous artwork. Wonderful story. This perfect picture book is my inspiration.

UPDATE! I was one of the 500 lucky fans that got to meet Oliver at Small Print Toronto's Totsapalooza today, which was totally fantastic! My brother and I created these tribute origami bookmarks to give to Oliver Jeffers.

Oliver Jeffers is in town

Lost and Found

The World's Greatest Picture Book Author

Friday, February 1, 2013

:: Top 28 Picture Books #1 ::

Top 28 Picture Books

As a childrens' book author and illustrator, I am often asked which picture books are my favourites. Well for the entire month of February I will be posting my Top 28 Picture Books List! And there's more! I will also be sharing them as 8 bit Lego pieces. Let's get started...

#1 "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein.

This simple yet poignant picture book tells a beautiful story about selflessness, sacrifice, and unconditional love. It will always have a special place in my heart, especially now as a new father.

I did not read this book until my teenage years, but I fell in love with it instantly. How can something so simple and sweet be so meaningful? The theme of appreciating parental sacrifices moves personally me to this day. I still can not read this book without reflecting on my own parent and of course shedding a tear or two or three or ten.