Children's Book Recommendations

• 3 min read

Read these books because they are good to read and you will enjoy them when you do it


Picture books are the greatest. They're concise and smart and they often (but not always) give me Big Emotions, which is hard to do, since I had the Emotion Chip removed from my hardware many years ago. These ones - some new, some old, some extremely old - are my favorites:

Llama Destroys the World
written by Jonathan Stutzman
illustrated by Heather Fox
Expected pub date: May 2019

I had the immense good fortune to meet Heather Fox, the illustrator of Llama Destroys the World, at the ABA Midwinter Institute in Albuquerque. She pitched this book, and I had that I need this feeling right away. I accosted her and demanded a galley copy, and she gave it to me, and oh my god it is so good. Llama Destroys the World is a real rarity - it's a book for kids that doesn't seek to convey a moral or teach a lesson. It's fun as hell, charming, and just a little bit existentially terrifying. It includes the line "they made his butt look groovy." You want this one.

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars
written by Seth Fishman
illustrated by Isabel Greenberg

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars is a charming book about Really Big Numbers. It describes things that are impossible to conceive - for instance, the number of ants on the planet - in a way that makes them feel wondrous and accessible and impossible, all at the same time. The illustrations are fun and don't take themselves too seriously, and the writing never once commits the cardinal crime of children's literature - condescension.

We Found a Hat
Written and illustrated by Jon Klassen

We Found a Hat is the third and final installment of Klassen's Hat Trilogy. Its predecessors, I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat, tell stories of justice and vengeance. We Found A Hat establishes a similar framework to the other two books - the desire to have a really great hat - and seems to indicate that betrayal is on the way. But instead of betrayal, this book tells a story of community. The final conclusion of this book is that it is better to not have a thing at all than to have it at the expense of someone else - that it is better to share the dream of equality than to exploit someone else's trust. It's a fucking beautiful story and I weep hysterically every time I read it.

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear
written by Don and Audrey Wood
illustrated by Don Wood

AWWWWWWW HELL YEAAAAAAAHHHH this book is my JAM!! It's got everything: Anxiety! A dilemma! A long con! A cute mouse who is in conversation with the narrator! Big Hungry Bear is about a mouse who has found a big, red, ripe strawberry, and he doesn't want a bear to get it! This is a highly legitimate pickle he's found himself in. The narrator advises him. I love this book with all my heart and I know you will, too.

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