What is it about a picture book that makes it a winner? What magic quality makes it one that engages and captivates young people, when others leave them cold? Often, that special Something is indistinguishable to adults – a book that might charm us will bore our Small Person to tears.
For years, I’ve been trying to learn the skills of a picture book writer and have only just come to terms with the cold, hard truth that my talents might lie elsewhere (Brevity is not one of my strong suits. And picture books should never have sub-plots). Funnily enough, it’s reading more picture books than ever, to my little girl, that has made me realise I’m not a picture book writer. There are just so many magnificent books out there; so many talented authors. I’m never going to be a Mem Fox or a Margaret Wild; a Katrina Germein or a Christina Booth. I just don’t have it in me.
But I do sure like reading them.
And Tiger loves it too. In recent weeks, she has transformed from a passive receiver of stories to one who actively seeks them out; prizing her books now far above her toys.
These are her current favourites (in no particular order – she is as enamoured of each one as the next):
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
- Meg and Mog – Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski
- Books Always Everywhere – Jane Blatt and Sarah Massini
- The Children Who Loved Books – Peter Carnavas
- Where Is The Green Sheep? – Mem Fox and Judy Horacek
- Peggy – Anna Walker
- The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
- Forever Young – Bob Dylan and Paul Rogers
- Alice in Wonderland: A BabyLit Colors Primer – Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver
- The Short and Incredibly Happy Life Of Riley – Colin Thompson
And there are others – many books we have borrowed from the library; books that Tiger takes into her heart and makes her friends. She is also a huge fan of Karen Collum, Nick Bland, Aaron Blabey, Gus Gordon, Shaun Tan. She adores the “touchy feely” “That’s Not My …” books. The picture book adaptation of Love Is In The Air is also a firm favourite.
And I love that my girl loves to read. I love watching her discover new books. I don’t feel any envy when I read them to her; of the talent of the authors. I feel only gratitude that they have made my daughter smile. And pride that my daughter smiles because of books.