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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Five – 2016 Great Rhyming Picture Books

31daysIf 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



About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. I’ve heard you say such good things about A Toucan Can, Can You? and I wanted to order it for my library, but I can’t find it on Baker & Taylor or even on Amazon! Any idea why I’m having such trouble finding it?

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      If you follow the link on the title to my review and then click on the title information there it should take you directly to the author’s website where you can purchase it.