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31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Fourteen – 2017 Fabulous Photography


Well, folks, I’m sick. Sick as a dog. Sick as a dog on a log in a bog (I think I’ve been writing up picture books too long). Fortunately, and by complete coincidence, today’s post is going to be an easy one. Folks that know me well are aware that there was a time when, for me, two roads diverged in a wood. I could become a photographer in some capacity or I could become a children’s librarian. I’ve never regretted the choice but I also retained my love of the art. Did you know that a lot of children’s book creators are trained photographers? Folks like Jeanne Birdsall of the Penderwicks series, for example. While working at NYPL I even once organized a Children’s Literary Salon where the panelists were Nina Crews, Joanne Dugan, Susan Kuklin and Charles R. Smith. Good times.

No year is an ideal year for photography. The pickings are, to say the least, slim. So please forgive the brevity of today’s list and if there’s anything you can think of that was particularly keen that you’d like included, just let me know in the comments. I’m not really distinguishing between age levels or types of books, by the way. And for additional reading, please head on over to Calling Caldecott and read Elisa Gall and Jonathan Hunt’s no nonsense piece Why the Hell Hasn’t Photography Won the Caldecott?

2017 Fabulous Photography

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess and Deanna Nikaido, featuring photos by Joel Sartore


This year, when my library was constructing its 101 Great Books list for the year, we debated the wisdom of having more than one Kwame Alexander poetry book included. The eventual consensus was that while you can’t have enough Kwame, ultimately this book had to be cut, which broke my heart. Not just because of the poems (though admittedly I read this whole book and, true story, didn’t realize they even were poems until I got to the end) but because the photography of the animals is superb. Vastly superior to anything I’ve seen in years. A can’t miss.

Full of Fall by April Pulley Sayre


You ever notice how many significant books that came out this year had the word “fall” in their titles? After the Fall. Fall In Line, Holden. This book. Okay, that’s a stretch but my temperature’s hovering around 99 degrees here and that just struck me as interesting. Ms. Sayre may be my favorite working photographer today. With Warbler Wave on the horizon for 2018 and books like Best In Snow and that killer Go, Go Grapes series under her belt, she’s just out-and-out amazing. She makes everything look easy when we well know that it’s not. Read the Calling Caldecott thoughts on the book here and scroll down a bit. Ah, to be a fly on the wall when the Caldecott committee considers this book . . .

Hello Autumn! by Shelley Rotner

Hello Spring! by Shelley Rotner



Okay, fine. I’m a sucker for the seasonal. So sue. And seasonal books get a bad rap. They get pulled out once a year, put on display, used by preschools and younger elementary school teachers, and once the weather changes back they go on the shelf. By now Ms. Rotner is probably used to it. She’s been in this game for years and shows no sign of slowing down. Good thing too. Her books are a pip.

Hidden Life of a Toad by Doug Wechsler


Ack! I can’t believe I failed to mention this book when I initially wrote this post! This may well be my favorite photography picture book of the year. I dunno. It has some strong competition but Wechsler is clearly a master at work.

Meet Cindy Sherman: Artist, Photographer, Chameleon by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan


You have no idea how often I booktalk this biography for 9-12 year olds. I always start by saying that we’re living in a selfie world and that Cindy Sherman practically invented the form. Invented, heck. She perfected it. Made it into art. And it’s also a really good way of showing that the art a person does as a kid can really affect what they do in the future. Probably my favorite chapter book bio of the year, and it’s a quick read.

Wake Up! by Helen Frost, photos by Rick Lieder


Yay! It’s not a party without the crazy stylings of Frost and Lieder. You may remember them from such hits as Sweep Up the Sun, Step Gently Out, and Among a Thousand Fireflies. The two have rapidly perfected the art of poetry and photography. And isn’t it interesting how often people do pair their photographs with poems? It’s rapidly becoming its own genre, I do declare. This one’s a bit on the spring side. Don’t be afraid. Pick it up and read it any time of the year.


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 Reprints & Adaptations

December 3 – Wordless Picture Books

December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds

December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books

December 6 – Alphabet Books

December 7 – Funny Picture Books

December 8 – CaldeNotts

December 9 – Picture Book Reprints

December 10 – Math Picture Books

December 11 – Bilingual Books

December 12 – Translated Picture Books

December 13 – Books with a Message

December 14 – Fabulous Photography

December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales

December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year

December 17 – Poetry Books

December 18 – Easy Books

December 19 – Early Chapter Books

December 20 – Comics for Kids

December 21 – Older Funny Books

December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction

December 23 – American History

December 24 – Science & Nature Books

December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Picture Books

December 26 – Unique Biographies

December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books

December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books

December 29 – Fiction Reprints

December 30 – Middle Grade 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.