If potential authors of picture books are given one piece of advice when they’re first starting out, it tends to be, “For the love of all that’s good and holy DO NOT let your picture books rhyme!!!” And for good reason. Few things in life are quite as painful as poorly rhymed picture books. Too many folks think it’s a breeze but there’s a reason Dr. Seuss has never been adequately replicated.
Now there was an article back in June on the British blog Picture Book Den that took time to compare British picture books in a Waterstones to American picture books in a Barnes and Nobles. Here’s what the writer had to say on the subject of rhyme:
Rhyming picture books used to be much more popular with publishers in the US than UK. I suspect that was because the US internal market is huge and they didn’t worry about overseas co-editions and translations as much as UK publishers. So in the US there has always been a high number of rhyming picture books and Dr Seuss continues to remain far more prominent than in the UK. Meanwhile in the UK, rhyme is still growing on the back of the phenomenal success of Julia Donaldson.
Fascinating. You’ll certainly find no Donaldson on this list (I’d say Brits find America’s dismissal of Donaldson as baffling as we find their neutrality on Dr. Seuss) but you will find folks with a good ear and a clever pen. There may be a bit of repetition here with the previous Readaloud list since readalouds and rhyme are good partners in crime. And on that rhyme . . .
2016 Rhyming Books
Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, ill. David Roberts
Not that the book with its current standing at #1 on the New York Times Bestselling Picture Books listing needs any help. Still and all, do you think Ms. Beaty would be where she is today if she didn’t know how to make a proper rhyme? Her cadences click. Her rhymes are sublime. The woman knows what she’s doing and the evidence is right before your eyes.
Billions of Bricks: A Counting Book About Building by Kurt Cyrus
I’ve a two-year-old that loves construction. With that in mind I took home this book, thinking it might appeal. It does. The rhymes are subtle but there, and the art is incredible. Keep an eye on the guy with the ladder as you go through it. He’s like this little walking Easter Egg, like Anno or Waldo.
A Dark, Dark Cave by Eric Hoffman, ill. Corey R. Tabor
There was a time when I thought maybe this book could have Caldecott potential. I’m not sure it does (2016 is a shockingly strong year for contenders) but I still like it a lot.
88 Instruments by Chris Barton, ill. Louis Thomas
The two-year-old is also into instruments. I suspect you’re beginning to figure out how I know to remember that one book was rhyming this year vs. another. I pretty much just use my kids to sort through my memories. So far so good on that front.
The Forgetful Knight by Michelle Robinson, ill. Fred Blunt
It never hurts when a picture book rhymes AND is funny.
Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks by Corey Rosen Schwartz & Rebecca J. Gomez, ill. Dan Santat
Please see previous statement on how it never hurts when a picture book rhymes AND is funny.
One Day in the Eucalyptus Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom, ill. by Brendan Wenzel
Still one of my favorites.
Teeny Tiny Toady by Jill Esbaum, ill. Keika Yamaguchi
A little tiny toad rescues its oversized family members through smarts and cunning. A feminist metaphor picture book if ever I heard of one.
A Toucan Can, Can You? by Danny Adlerman, ill. Various
I tried not to include any songs on this list (it’s just not fair to include them) but I figured rhyming chants belonged. A toast then to rhyming chants! Huzzah!
You Belong Here by M.H. Clark, ill. Isabelle Arsenault
Of all the books on this list, this is undoubtedly the most beautiful. Arsenault drives me crazy. She’s Canadian so she’ll never win a Stateside literary award from ALA unless she takes the plunge and lives here for a while. Fortunately we can enjoy the fruits of her labors. This one’s a dreamboat of a book. Check it out if you don’t believe me.
You’re My Boo by Kate Dopirak, ill. Lesley Breen Withrow
I don’t go in for cutesy picture books, you know. They do nothing for me. That’s why this book was a bit of a surprise. It’s cute, sure enough, but it’s rather clever as well. Plus I read it to some kids and they really enjoyed it. That may have tipped the vote in the book’s favor as well.
Interested in the other lists of the month? Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:
December 1 – Board Books
December 2 – Board Book Adaptations
December 3 – Nursery Rhymes
December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds
December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books
December 6 – Alphabet Books
December 7 – Funny Picture Books
December 8 – Calde-Nots
December 9 – Picture Book Reprints
December 10 – Math Picture Books
December 11 – Bilingual Books
December 12 – International Imports
December 13 – Books with a Message
December 14 – Fabulous Photography
December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales
December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year
December 17 – Older Picture Books
December 18 – Easy Books
December 19 – Early Chapter Books
December 20 – Graphic Novels
December 21 – Poetry
December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction
December 23 – American History
December 24 – Science & Nature Books
December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Titles
December 26 – Unique Biographies
December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books
December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books
December 29 – Novel Reprints
December 30 – Novels
December 31 – Picture Books