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I listened to an episode of Read Aloud Revival a few weeks ago, and they were highlighting Barbara Cooney, with audio clips from Miss Rumphius as well as interviews with her son and daughter-in-law. It was a fantastic episode, which may or may not have resulted in a few tears on my part.
The other episode I had listened to was regarding the Winter Books for the RAR Premium Members, in which they talked about one of my favorite book series, Little House on the Prairie. BUT! It’s the series that most people are unaware of that I love the most, the My First Little House Book series , illustrated Renee Graef (who will be on premium).
During the episodes they were talking about what author’s or illustrator’s books you should always buy, no questions asked. It got me to thinking about who some of my favorite children’s authors are, and whose books I buy no matter what. These three authors are just that!
Here they are:
- Jim LaMarche
- Patricia Polacco
- Barbara Cooney
I was first introduced to Jim LaMarche when I was a little girl through the book, The Rainbabies, which was one of our favorites. Then I had forgotten it until my daughter was born. The first time I read it through I sobbed.
The words are beautiful, the illustrations stunning. Each page is an absolutely glorious work of art! I can only imagine how much time LaMarche spent on these pictures.
It was soon after that I started searching out books by LaMarche and we came across such treasures as, Winter is Coming, Pond, The Raft, The Carpenter’s Gift, and The Little Fir Tree. These are some of the most exquisite books ever, for boys and girls. He has such a focus on nature and such attention to the most minute details.
If the stories of struggle and the strength of family and friends speak to you look no further than Patricia Polacco. I did one of my Master’s projects on her and her works.
The first book of her’s I read was Fiona’s Lace (I believe it was on a RAR March booklist). It’s the story of a family’s struggle immigrating from Ireland to America and how things were not what they had expected.
After that one, we started stumbling upon her books constantly. We now have several of them, but still nowhere near ALL of them. The illustrations in them are not at all “art” the way I think of LaMarche and Cooney’s illustrations, but I love them.
The stories are real and heartfelt. You can tell that they are stories of life and experiences, not just made up “fancy”. I think that is what I love most about Patricia Polacco’s books, that they are the tellings of things that have actually happened.
If you ever have the chance to watch her Author Access on Read Aloud Revival I HIGHLY recommend it. She’s an incredible woman, with a unique story and past.
Barbara Cooney was another author/illustrator that I came to later in life. Avelyn had received a copy of Miss Rumphius as a gift for her first or second birthday, and I loved pouring over the illustrations and the words.
(If you’re picking up on a trend here…that I am the one that falls in love with these books before my kids ever do…you’re right!)
Over time we started to collect a few more of her books, trying to find the ones that she wrote as well as illustrated. Then there was one book, Basket Moon, that tore my heart out. If you haven’t read it, go right now, find it, and read it.
When I stumbled upon Ox-Cart Man, I realized I HAD seen Barbara Cooney as a child. Again, she is a storyteller who revels in sharing the every detail of a scene. You can just sit and look at the pictures, always seeing something new.
While these are a smattering of my favorite author/illustrators, they are certainly not the only ones. They are, however, a few of the lesser known illustrators.
Another favorite of mine is Jan Brett, whom almost everyone is familiar with. A local art museum is doing an exhibit of her works in April and I canNOT wait to take the kids!
What are some of the picture books, authors, and illustrators that you recommend to others? What about them makes them favorites?