Best Picture Books I Read in 2019 (plus two . . .)

Noodlephant by Jacob Kramer, 
illustrated by K-Fai Steele
"Kramer's story definitely conveys the oppression of an oligarchical government in a way that all kids can understand - through love of noodles and loss of noodles."

Another by Christian Robinson
"Robinson's illustrations, with his mix of collage, drawing and painting, standout for their uniqueness in the world of kid's books, but also his gift for connecting with with his story and characters. It is deeply gratifying to see that, in his debut as author and illustrator, Robinson delivers an unforgettable, imaginative celebration of a book!"

by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Angel Chang 
"An immersive, enchanting visceral experience, taking readers on a journey through the world that is both expansive and intimate."

by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
"As Alexander writes in his author's note, 'this poem is . . . about Black. Lives. Matter. About Black. Lives. Matter. About Black. Lives. Matter. Because we are Americans. Because we are human beings.'"

My Papi Has a Motorcycle 
by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña
"Reading My Papi Has a Motorcycle, I fell into the story, the words shimmering and speeding around me, the illustrations glowing the way the sunlight turns the mountains and sky pink, purple and orange as the sun sets in inland Southern California."

¡Vamos! Let's Go to the Market 
by Raúl the Third, Colors by Elaine Bay
"For me, having lived most of my life close to California's border with Mexico, this book reminds me of all the wonderful people and delicious, beautiful things - and words - from Mexican culture that have made their way over the border."

Hungry Jim 
by Laurel Snyder, illustrated by Chuck Groenik
"Hungry Jim is a gift to a new generation of children, both for reinforcing Sendak's message from Where the Wild Things Are, assuring children that their powerful, sometimes dark, feelings are o.k. and they will still be loved after letting them run wild, and also for introducing new readers to the 'unrivaled Maurice Sendak.' When you are a kid (and an adult . . . ) powerful feelings are messy and dirty and uncontrollable. And when they have run their course, and you are truly loved, there is a stack of pancakes, a warm smile and an arm around you, just like there is for Jim at the end of this book."

by Sergio Ruzzier
"I love Sergio Ruzzier's style. His subtle, thoughtful humor comes through in his words and watercolor illustrations, always in a cool palette of elegant Easter egg hues that feel like they exist on the less angsty edge of a Salvador Dalí painting."

by Nikki McClure
"McClure's work is always a celebration and an inspiration, whether she is turing her artist's eye to nature, creativity, sustainability, or community. With What Will These Hands Make, the author/illustrator who creates her illustrations using an X-Acto blade knife to cut black paper celebrates all of these things in one poetic tribute to making things by hand and the many ways this connects us with others."

The Hideout
by Susanna Mattiangeli, 
illustrated by Felicita Sala
"The Hideout takes readers on a surprising journey. What initially seems to be a journey of the imagination is revealed to be a journey of creation in one of the best picture books I have ever read to put the intangible creative process on the page in a tangible way."
by Ishta Mercurio, illustrated by Jen Corace
"Small World does with poetic creativity and remarkable subtlety what so many well intentioned but trite and boring picture books (written to be graduation gifts) try to do year after year: inspire young readers to be curious, to expand their worlds, to love life and to love the Earth that supports life. The next time you need to give a book as a gift - be it for a newborn or a graduate - skip Seuss and go straight for Small World."

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