Picture Book Lovers, Here Is Your Top 50!

One of the first books my parents bought me was Possum Magic

When I wrote my post on my top fifty Aussie kids’ and YA books of all time, two of the first people I wanted to look at it were my mum and dad. Both teachers and avid bibliophiles, I knew they would both have strong opinions on the books I’d chosen.

My dad is particularly into YA literature, and is planning to write me a list of his favourite YA titles “when the dreaded reports are finished”.

My mum’s area of expertise is picture books, and the first thing she said to me after reading the list was that I had neglected to include enough titles in her favourite format.

My love affair with picture books is really only just beginning. Of course, I read picture books as a kid – and was read to – but I started reading “chapter books” fairly early, and rejected picture books as “babyish” at quite a young age. Of course, I had my favourites. I loved Sebastian Lives in a Hat and Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge; the Hairy MacLary series (although Scarface Claw scared me so much I sometimes had to hide the book under the bed. What effect I expected this to have, I’m not sure but it made me feel better!) and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. The Pain and the Great One was another beloved title, because it seemed to mirror my own life so exactly. I have a little brother. When we were little, his nickname was Richard the Pitchard the Potchard the Pain. His name for me was, inexplicably, Boo Boo. See how painful he was? And how, obviously, much greater I was???

But I digress. Apart from those few picture books, my true reading loves as a kid were, from fairly early on, novels. It’s only in the past few years, having worked in libraries and book shops and under the influence of Mum and my good friend, Christina Booth, that I’ve realised just how awesome picture books are.

But I’m still learning. Mum’s an expert.

My mum is a teacher librarian (one of the sadly dwindling number in Tasmania – but that’s a whole other blog post in itself), for whom picture books are a passion.

So, I couldn’t think of anyone better to write a post in answer to mine – one where picture books are the focus. So, picture book lovers (and I know there are lots of you out there), what do you think of Mum’s list? What should have been on there? What are some of your favourite picture books – Aussie or international?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. My picture book education is only just beginning. I’m eager to learn as much as I can about the incredible, diverse, vibrant and totally un-childish format of the picture book, so please send me your suggestions!

Anyway, to the list!

Vicki’s Top 50

  1. Animalia, Graeme Base
  2. Bear and Chook, Lisa Shanahan
  3. Potato Music, Christina Booth
  4. Chatterbox, Margaret Wild
  5. Home, Narelle Oliver
  6. Luke’s Way of Looking, Nadia Wheatley
  7. My Dog, John Heffernan
  8. The Red Tree, Shaun Tan
  9. In Flanders Fields, Norman Jorgensen
  10. Reggie Queen of the Street, Margaret Barbalet
  11. Baby Boomsticks, Margaret Wild
  12. Queenie, Corinne Fenton
  13. Two Summers, John Heffernan
  14. Where is the Green Sheep, Mem Fox
  15. Bertie and the Bear, Pamela Allen
  16. Refugees, David Miller
  17. Run Hare Run, John Winch
  18. Diary of a Wombat, Jackie French
  19. Dragon Quest, Allan Baillie
  20. Too Loud Lily, Sophie Laguna
  21. Millie, John Marsden
  22. Too Many Pears, Jackie French
  23. Little Humpty, Margaret Wild
  24. Pudding and Chips, P E Matthews
  25. Piglet and Papa, Margaret Wild
  26. Brian Banana Sunshine Duck Yellow, Chris McKimmie
  27. Kestrel, Mark Svendsen
  28. The Peasant Prince, Li Cunxin
  29. How to Heal a Broken Wing, Bob Graham
  30. Little Cat and the Big Red Bus, Jane Godwin
  31. Special Kev, Chris McKimmie
  32. Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle, Glenda Millard
  33. Puffling, Margaret Wild
  34. Little Blue, Gaye Chapman
  35. Mirror, Jeannie Baker
  36. Precious Little, Julie Hunt and Sue Moss
  37. Possum Magic, Mem Fox
  38. The Violin Man, Colin Thompson
  39. Fox and Fine Feathers, Narelle Oliver
  40. Rose Meets Mr Wintergarten, Bob Graham
  41. Let’s Get a Pup, Bob Graham
  42. The Rabbits, John Marsden
  43. The Staircase Cat, Colin Thompson
  44. Cat and Fish, Joan Grant
  45. John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat, Jenny Wagner
  46. My Place, Nadia Wheatley
  47. Greetings From Sandy Beach, Bob Graham
  48. My Farm, Alison Lester
  49. The Arrival, Shaun Tan
  50. Drac and the Gremlin, Allan Baillie

What do you think? Did she get it right? What is YOUR favourite picture book?

5 thoughts on “Picture Book Lovers, Here Is Your Top 50!

  1. We have been systematically working through this list and there have been some really special reads. Most recent was In Flanders Field which made me want to cry in Hudsons, where I was reading it. Even though some of the books are too mature for Norway we still read them to her anyway…


  2. Love you list, Vicki! One thing I absolutely LOVE about my job is that I get to read all of these awesome picture books every day! Diary of a Wombat is definitely one of my recent favourites but I do love Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge (Mem Fox) and Alexander’s Outing (Pamela Allen).


  3. Anything at all that is written by Anthony Browne!!! I just love the way his illustrations say so much more than the writing does!! Piggybook is my absolute favourite!!


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