I first came up with the idea for a 31 Days, 31 Lists series in late September. Having kept track of a number of books over the year, it made a logical kind of sense. But as we got closer to the actual lists I realized that in some categories I’m going to be seriously lacking. Not having planned to do this series earlier in the year, I neglected certain areas.
All this is to say (slash, give lame excuses) that today’s list is a bit on the skimpy side. I have no doubt that the Geisel committtee this year could drown you in completely fantastic easy books. I’m a bit on the picky side so these are the only ones I can really stick a flag in and declare to be worth the asking price. Please forgive the brevity:
2016 Easy Books
Come Over to My House by Dr. Seuss, ill. Katie Kath
Originally published in 1966, I knew that this recent Seuss re-illustration was bound to differ from the original. I was, however, very trepidatious. I’ve been burned by shockingly offensive Seuss books before (please see: Surprise! It’s Racist!) and with that late 60s pub date there was no guarantee that either Seuss nor the original illustrator (Richard Erdoes) were inclined to be kind. Yet when I picked it up and read through it, it was lovely. Far better than the It’s-a-Small-World vibe you get from the cover and title, the book has a hook (visiting houses around the world) and it works. Add in Katie Kath’s art, which bends over backwards to be on the up-and-up and you’ve got yourself a truly worth new Seuss on your shelves.
The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat and Mo Willems
Pretty sure I’ve said everything there is to say about this book. There was a reason I put it on my math picture book list and if I could drown it in further laudatory comments I would do so. Eclectic, crazy original art, great characters, humor, math concepts, and a great storyline all combine.
Get a Hit, Mo! by David A. Adler
I loved loved loved Mo’s last book Don’t Throw It to Mo, which was a very rare easy book about football (children’s books about football at all are outnumbered by baseball books 10:1). And while this book covers the most written-about sport in literature for kids, I love it. It doesn’t hurt matters that my 2-year-old son also loves it (we live near Chicago and the Cubs won this year so . . .).
I See and See by Ted Lewin
The “I Like to Read” series by Holiday House has always frustrated librarians. We like the books a lot but because the publisher for some reason has always published the books at an egregious 8″ X 10″ (rather than the standard 6″ X 9″ where most easy readers fall) we tend to forget about them. They get shelved in the picture book sections and unless you know to spot their distinctive little spines, you’ll probably forget all about them. I couldn’t forget this book, though. Maybe it was the fact that it reminds me so much of NYC (I’m pretty sure he included the Bryant Park carousel at the end) but the very simple text and gorgeous Lewin art make for a winning combo.
Owl Sees Owl by Laura Godwin, ill. Rob Dunlavey
It’s not technically marketed as an easy reader, and indeed the text owes far more to the reverso poetry movement than anything else. That said, I was very taken with the quiet, contemplative little book. And I do think it’s sufficiently simple to enter onto this list. I do!
Rabbit and Robot and Ribbit by Cece Bell
Gosh, I like these books! Particularly when they involve clever wordplay and characters I can identify with. I’m far too much of a Rabbit. I need to be more of a Robot (or, for that matter, a Ribbit). Now there’s a New Year’s Resolution for ya.
Snail and Worm: Three Stories About Two Friends by Tina Kügler
Oh. Oh oh oh. This is my #1 pick for the Geisel this year, no question. My five-year-old daughter has taken to reading one of these stories every morning to my two-year-old. As a result, anytime he sees a worm he will immediately say, “Worm! Worm! Where’s snail?” Where indeed. Deeply funny and original, these books are for kids who are working their way up to the Frog and Toad books. I’ve found it hard to come up with any easy readers that fall into this reading level quite so perfectly
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