Friday, October 22, 2010

Matthew Cordell's Picture Book List

Matthew Cordell seen by Matthew Cordell

Matthew Cordell is the children's book illustrator of such titles as Toby and the Snowflakes by Julie Halpern, Mighty Casey by James Preller, Toot Toot Zoom! by Phyllis Root, and Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters by Rachel Vail. Matthew is the author and illustrator of Trouble Gum.

He lives in the suburbs of Chicago with his wife, author Julie Halpern, their daughter Romy, and a very sturdy cat named Tobin. You can see his work on his website and his blog. He was the first one to send me his list with ten of his favorite picture books.

Take a look at his website and blog
Here's Matthew's list:

1. GORKY RISES by William Steig. This one is probably one of my three favorite Steig picture books, including SYLVESTER AND THE MAGIC PEBBLE (of course) and AMOS AND BORIS. I choose GORKY for my top ten because I'm a sucker for a boy (frog) who can fly book.

2. GRANPA by John Burningham. John Burningham is so freaking good. I love his humor and his grace and his fearless, fearless art. GRANPA is so much of that.

3. MOUSE TALES by Arnold Lobel. I do love Arnold Lobel and this book is brilliant. But to be fair, I lift this favorite from my wife's list of favorite pic books. I wouldn't know a thing about picture books if it weren't for her. And I'm so glad she shared this one with me.

4. THE ENEMY by Davide Cali, illustrated by Serge Bloch. I only recently came upon this one. I suppose it's written for the older set because it's about war and peace. I love it. Serge Bloch is one of my big faves.

5. WHAT DO PEOPLE DO ALL DAY? by Richard Scarry. This is one I can remember digging as a kid. So much detail and so much animal craziness going on. What's not to love? I'm still in awe.

6. LEAVES by David Ezra Stein. I like D.E.S. I like how each of his books is different from the last. And he always keeps it loose and fresh, which I really admire. I really like this one. I like his line and washes and I like the innocence and sweetness and enthusiasm of that bear.

7. MOON MAN by Tomi Ungerer. This is another fairly recent find for me. Super stylish and cool groovy vibe. I especially like the soldiers, weird scientist, and all that black.

8. MARTIN PEBBLE by Jean-Jacques Sempé. J.J. Sempé is one of my all time favorites for pen/ink. I also love his sense of humor and storytelling. His art in this book is super loose and sparse and very limited in color. I love it all. Beautifully designed.

9. MADELINE by Ludwig Bemelmans. Very cool and romantic and timeless and actually kind of strange. LB's art is amazing, of course. I also like how it goes from full color to limited color illustrations. I assume this was done to save money in printing the original edition, but it works really well in design.

10. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak. I can't imagine leaving this off. I probably take it for granted a lot. Every now and again I like to pull it down and have another look. Never disappointed.


  1. I love this list, Matthew -- and this whole idea of asking folks about this, Sergio.

    LEAVES is really amazing, as are so many others on this list. And, as you know, I'm a big Burningham fan, too.

  2. I knew this would be a tough one for you, Jules! Looking forward to seeing your list.

  3. Matthew, I had to sort of narrow myself to older titles. So that my head would. not. explode.

  4. Great picks! I look forward to seeing the other lists to come as well...
    - Aaron

  5. Oh, yes, how could I have forgotten "The Enemy"! I must add it as a tie with another title.

  6. Guys, it's OK! It's a list of ten OF your favorite picture books, not your ten favorite picture books.

  7. I'm happy to say I read Hey Rabbit two weeks ago and loved it!