When I think of being a small child there a specific images that flow through my mind. These images are connected to picture books that I read and treasured. Picture books started my love of reading and my love of books. Great picture books, just like fine art evoke feelings of happiness while making us see the beauty that the world has to hold. All of the books that I held dear are still close to my heart as an adult. I love to go back and read them and look at them just as I would look at a beautiful piece in the Denver Art Museum. I don't think children's books have to be critically acclaimed or analyzed in the same way art pieces are evaluated. This is part of what makes them so beautiful. Enjoying them for their simplicity and complexity is part of what makes picture books so magical.
One of the most beautiful books I remember from my younger days is The Maggie B. by Irene Haas. The illustrations done for this book are absolutely fantastic. The tale it tells needs the pictures to rival it in magic and wonderment. The illustrations are incredibally detailed, while the lines are soft. This makes it easy on the eye while drawing the reader into the story. I will always remember this book due to the lovely art that it houses.
Another book that I loved at about the same time as The Maggie B. is Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. The illustrations done in this book also have a soft feel. The colors are vibrant and well incorporated to flow with the different places mentioned in the story. What makes this book so special is the fact that Cooney has a wonderful message imbedded in this book. She wants her young readers to always remember to make the world a better place to live. This is a wonderful story and the illustrations bring it to life.
The Minpins by Roald Dahl is another picture book that I loved as a child. It was one of the books I read many times up until my teenage years. What makes this book special is the fact that it is a longer picture book written for beginner readers or written so a parent and child can enjoy it together. The illustrations include a lot of trees with the Minpins disguised within the leaves of the trees. This lends to the anticipation that builds up when one wants to know what is going to happen. It is an excellent picture book that all Roald Dahl fans should read.
Another one of my favorite childrens books is Zen Shorts by Jon Muth. I did not add this book to my collection until very recently. It is beautifully illustrated combining Japanese styles with soft American styles. Stillwater the panda is a gentle and wise creature who teaches children that it is always important to think about a situation and be aware of the world around us. The illustrations are rich in detail with soft lines and vibrant colors. It is the perfect childrens picture book.
All of these books are wonderful for the young and the young at heart. They have beautiful stories that are made even better with beautiful illustrations. They are some of my favorite pieces of art. They make me love books and love the art of a book as a package deal. I hope you enjoy reading these to your children and reading them to yourself.
If you are interested in purchasing any of these books at your local, independently owned bookstore, or borrowing them from the local library here are the ISBN numbers:
The Maggie B. by Irene Haas, ISBN: 9780689500213
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, ISBN: 9780670479580
The Minpins by Roald Dahl, ISBN: 9780142414743
Zen Shorts by Jon Muth, ISBN: 9780545040877
Happy reading for you and your little ones!