Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jennifer Laughran's Picture Book List

Jennifer Laughran started her career in children's books with her first bookstore job, at age 12, and in later years went on to be a buyer and events coordinator for indie bookstores across the country. She is now an agent at Andrea Brown Literary Agency, focusing on books for children and young adults. Her clients include Daniel Pinkwater, Calef Brown, Matt Faulkner and Kate Messner among others. 
You can follow Jennifer's thoughts on her blog and on Twitter (@literaticat).

Here's what she writes:

This list is only people who are NOT clients and whom I don't know personally, and in no particular order:

LILLY'S PURPLE PLASTIC PURSE by Kevin Henkes:  I love all of Kevin Henkes' Mouse books a lot, but this one was the first one I read, and it never fails to make me feel a bit choked up. I love the teacher Mr. Slinger. And I LOVE LILLY and her red boots and movie star sunglasses!

SEVEN SILLY EATERS by Mary Ann Hoberman & Marla Frazee: This is a modern classic about a huge family in which every kid is ridiculously picky about what they will eat, and the frazzled mom who has to keep up with it all. The rhyme is catchy and just perfect - and Marla's illustrations are so, so gorgeous, always.

LITTLE FUR FAMILY by Margaret Wise Brown & Garth Williams: I thought Goodnight Moon was ok, but I LOVED Little Fur Family. "There was a little fur family. Warm as toast, smaller than most, in little fur coats, and they lived in a warm wooden tree." Could anything be cozier and more adorable? OH YES!  Because the little fur child finds "a little tiny tiny fur animal, the littlest fur animal in the world. It had warm silky fur and even a little fur nose."  AHHH SO CUTE!  You can get this in a fake-fur covered "deluxe" edition, which mimics the rabbit-fur bound first edition. Mine was just a falling-apart paperback.

PIERRE by Maurice Sendak: I love pretty much all Maurice Sendak books of course, but I always had a special fondness for Pierre. He is a wretched little misanthrope who doesn't care about anything, much to his parents dismay, and then he gets eaten by a lion. Ha!

MAX MAKES A MILLION / OOH LA LA MAX IN LOVE / MAX IN HOLLYWOOD, BABY / SWAMI ON RYE by Maira Kalman. Max is a poet. Max is a dreamer. Max is a dog. This is 4 books, but it really constitutes a saga: in the first book, New York dog Max sells some poems and gets rich. Then he goes to Paris to find the love of his life and be a real bohemian. Then he gets a film deal and goes out to LA, but with all the money and fame, he gets a big head, so in the final installment, he goes to India to find enlightenment with a guru, and becomes a father. Genius, and truly just as much for grownups as kids.

FABLES by Arthur Lobel.  I loved this book when I was a kid because the fables are quite weird and subversive. And there are a bunch of them, which each constitute their own complete story, so it is like having 20 oddball picture books in one. And there is a bear on the cover wearing a pan for a hat and brown paper bags for shoes.

EAST OF THE SUN, WEST OF THE MOON by Mercer Mayer: My father gave me this storybook when I was probably six or seven, and I found it completely mesmerizing. It is a long, complicated, sad and scary fairy tale, beautifully illustrated. Though the length of the text and painterly quality of the illustrations make this slightly old-fashioned for publishing tastes today, wow, do I wish this style of book would come back into fashion.

TIKKI TIKKI TEMBO by Arlene Mosel & Blair Lent: Apparently this book is considered not "politically correct" nowadays. I still think it is awesome. I remember it as being a favorite for librarian read-aloud time when I was a little one, and our entire classroom delighting in chanting (say it with me): TIKKI TIKKI TEMBO-NO SAH REMBO-CHARI BARI RUCHI-PIP PERI PEMBO (gasp) HAS FALLEN DOWN THE WELL!

MISS NELSON IS MISSING by Harry Allard & James Marshall:  The students in room 207 are terrible and their lovely young teacher can't get them to pay attention. When she vanishes and awful witch Viola Swamp comes in as a substitute, they wish Miss Nelson would come back... But Miss Nelson has a secret of her own (and a creepy black dress in her closet!). This book is so funny, I must have read it a thousand times as a kid.

OFFICER BUCKLE AND GLORIA by Peggy Rathmann: Officer Buckle knows more about safety than anyone else in Napville, and he loves to give presentations about his safety tips to local schools. But nobody else loves his presentations... until his dog Gloria gets into the act, upstaging him in hilarious ways. A sweet story about friendship and sharing the spotlight, as well as totally off-the-wall funny, with hidden gems in every image. And (after learning it the hard way) I will never forget Safety Tip #77: NEVER stand on a swivel chair!

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