Thursday, April 30, 2009

Picture Book Reading Challenge Results

61 - that's how many picture books I read the last couple days for the Picture Book Reading Challenge. I decided to divide the picture books I read into 4 piles this time because I was having a hard time with just 3 piles on these.

Pile 1 = Amazing Books I Love & Want to Buy: 9 books.
Duck and Goose (Tad Hills) - I bought this yesterday.
Best Buds (Maxwell Eaton III)
Superheroes (Maxwell Eaton III)
The Odd Egg (Emily Gravett)
Wolves (Emily Gravett)
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed (Mo Willems)
Duck at the Door (Jackie Urbanovic)
Little Oink (Amy Krouse Rosenthal/Jen Corace)
Duck! Rabbit! (Amy Krouse Rosenthal/Tom Lichtenheld)

Pile 2 = Very Good Books That I Would Read Again: 12 books.
Rhyming Dust Bunnies (Jan Thomas)
How to Win Friends and Influence Creatures for Kids (Deborah Zemke)
Llama, Llama, Red Pajama (Anna Dewdney)
Duck and Cover (Jackie Urbanovic)
Mouse Was Mad (Linda Urban/Henry Cole)
All God's Critters (Bill Staines/Kadir Nelson)
Cock-a-doodle hooooooo! (Mick Manning/Brita Granstrom)
Ginger Bear (Mini Grey)
The Cow That Laid an Egg (Andy Cutbill/Russell Ayto)
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Bill Martin Jr/John Archambault)
Bats at the Library (Brian Lies)
Freckleface Strawberry (Julianne Moore/LeUyen Pham)

Pile 3 = OK Books That I'm Not Excited Read Again: 29 books, but I don't want anyone to feel bad if I list their book.

Pile 4 = Don't-Ever-Make-Me-Read-It-Again Books: 11 books.

I combined a few reading lists and also read books that were prominently displayed at Barnes & Noble and Borders.

My analysis of my favorite books: They all made me laugh out loud, and I wanted to make my husband read them (since we don't have kids yet to force books upon). Most of these books have sparse text and simple storylines, with a twist or surprise to the ending. Wolves has a surprise ending in which someone gets eaten (gulp!) and then a revised extra ending for sensitive readers - hilarious. I love the way the text plays with the illustrations in these books. Duck! Rabbit! is the ultimate play between words and illustrations. You really have to get this book to see what I mean. And the two books by Maxwell Eaton III use speech bubbles to give quirky personalities to the characters. The fact that a polar bear's butt reminds Max that Pinky likes marshmallows in Best Buds is quirkiness at its best. Each of the nine books in my Amazing pile has a unique spin about it; not your typical, "MC doesn't want to go to bed...," "MC loses a tooth...," "MC has bully problems...," or any of the other topics that editors say saturate their piles. I guess Duck and Goose is about sharing when it comes down to it, but the lesson isn't pointed out, and you can't help but love their funny squabbling about how to take care of the "egg" they found and the surprise that it's not an egg. So if we write about a common theme, it really needs to stand out somehow.

My analysis of the books I didn't like: Most had far too many words, and I found myself wanting to edit them down to be more efficient and funnier. Some of them also had a lesson that was far too preachy (one certain recycling book had me groaning the whole way because it was soooo didactic). A couple of the books I didn't like tried too hard to be funny and ended up lame and annoying to me. And a couple didn't have a satisfying ending.

I sent in my picture book dummy that I wrote and sketched to be critiqued and will get that back at an SCBWI event next weekend. I'm putting that story out of my head until then, so that it'll be fresh when I get it back, and then I'll decide which of these piles I would put it in as a reader. Now it's time for me to start writing other picture books using the lessons I learned from reading all these picture books - it's time for NaPiBoWriWee!!!! I'll be writing 7 picture books in 7 days! Go to Paula Yoo's blog for details and to sign up.


Jacqui said...

Wow. Impressive!

Dee said...

I can't wait to get my hands on Duck! Rabbit! (the title reminds me of Bugs and Daffy: "Rabbit Season! Duck Season!... Duck Season! Duck Season!" kablooie!) Unfortunately, our library doesn't have it yet, and I can't just sit in read in a store b/c my two year old would reek havoc in his enthusiasm to read all of the books.

I lurv Gravett's books, too! I have a few already. Did you have a hrad time separating the influence of the art. I thought about that sometimes...if I didn't love the art so much, would I still like the story as well?

jama said...

Happy to see those two Jackie Urbanovic titles on your lists. Am anxious to read the ones I haven't read yet that you really liked. Good luck writing your seven PBs!

Emily Harris said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on my work-I appreciate it!

Your lists (and this challenge!) look like so much fun! I just picked up a copy of Little Oink (to complete my collection of Little's-Pea, Oink and Hoot!). I will have to check out some of the other ones on your list!

Mary Uhles said...

hey I"m just now getting a chance to read ya'lls posts. This is a great list, there's several here that I like and some i want to read.... i think i'll make this part ofmy list for my next round;)

interesting how you found the ones with "lessons" annoying... this is almost always the pitch used when i'm approached by someone who "has a great idea for a book" but does not have an editor/publishing contract to go along with it.

i agree on the less text thing.... that is definitly something different between books from years ago and books now... wonder why.

i'm definitly up for doing this again;)

ps. congrats on the mocha showing too

Anonymous said...

Ack, I'm sorry I missed this. But I do read about 25-30 picture books weekly with my two daughters. I could have amped it up a bit to participate. Let me know the next time you do this!