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Librarian in Residence: You’re never too old to read a picture book

By Jessica Green on February 4, 2014

Jessica Green is a book addict and library card holder since the age of 5. She’s a librarian at the Ottawa Public Library and currently the Apartment613 Librarian-in-Residence, sharing a compendium of literary thoughts and tips.

As much as I’d like to take credit for this idea, it is thanks to colleagues from Apt613 that suggested it to me (Thanks Yasmin and Chris!!). In my work as a children’s librarian, I get to read many entertaining picture books for kids. I’ve come across a few that are quite memorable, and for the most part, pretty funny, for children and those who are young at heart. Here’s my list, in no particular order:

1) Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems: We’re a little Mo Willems obsessed out here at Greenboro, as he writes and illustrates some of the best recent children’s books. In this book, Wilbur isn’t like all the other naked mole rats as he likes to get dressed up. The other naked mole rats force him to go before the Elder to be judged…..This one has it all, fun drawings, a great presentation to the story and a nice way of showing that everyone can be different.

2) Chowder by Peter Brown: Another entry about trying to fit in when you stand out from the crowd. Chowder is a bulldog that acts more like people than a dog, which means he has a hard time finding canine friends. He does find some friends, which makes for a sweet ending. The illustrations are very retro flavoured, and who can resist a story featuring a couple with the last name “Wibblebottom”?

3) New Socks by Bob Shea: It’s short and funny, and I keep coming back to this book for my story times over and over again. How can you resist a book that claims on the back “Imagine the best book ever. This is better. It’s about my New Socks and it’s about me. Read it. You’ll like it”?? Bob Shea is also the author of the series “Dinosaur Vs” which always brings down the house.

4) Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett: Think of some completely saccharine book you were given as a child that you may have defaced. This book takes that premise to the limit by showing you Alex’s re-imagined tale of Battle Bunny defeating all the evil woodland creatures. I really want to read this to some of my classes, but I may never be asked to return….

5) The Worst Princess by Anna Kemp: Some of the eagle-eyed readers may recognize this one from my Christmas list. It’s still one of the best subversive princess books I’ve seen. The art is fabulous, the text lively and rhyming, and the prince gets his shorts put on fire. Princess Sue is the princess we need as an antidote to Princess Culture.

6) The Incredible Book eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers: Henry loves books so much he literally eats them whole and becomes the smartest boy in the world. But his book-eating ways land him in trouble… This book has brilliant illustrations which bear taking a second look to see all the little bits used in the backgrounds. You also have to look at the back cover for a special final joke.

7) The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsberg: This is probably the oldest book on my list as I recall being shown this book as a child in my school library. Van Allsberg is a master of pencil illustration and each slightly creepy picture is accompanied by a short tagline. Fast forward many years and a collection of authors published The Chronicles of Harris Burdick which contains a short story in relation to each illustration. Simply amazing.

8) Boss Baby by Marla Frazee: “From the moment he arrives, it is obvious that the new baby is the boss”. I read this often to my baby time parents and there’s quite a few chuckles heard around the room. This is a great one to get for a new parent, especially if they work in a large corporation or government. I always laugh at the baby’s suit onesie complete with necktie.

9) Zombie in Love by Kelly S. DiPucchio: When this book came in, all of us thought “Oh no, not another zombie book….and for kids to boot”. We were wrong as this is a really sweet tale of Mortimer the zombie’s search for love, and what happens when he puts an ad in the newspaper. Fun for older kids, and those of us with a quirky sense of humour.

10) The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka: Another oldie but goodie and definitely one of the best entries in the fractured fairy tales theme. Scieszka does crazy retellings of famous fairy tales. Every so often, I read just the Stinky Cheese Man story to classes and they laugh every time.