This is the first installment of the most outstanding picture books for this year. The books listed here are informative, educational, humorous, and comforting. All are good for ages three through eight unless otherwise indicated. Look for my next review to complete my list of the best picture books of 2022.
The Upside Down Detective Agency, by Ellie Hattie and brightly illustrated by Brendan Kearney, is a delightful interactive book that invites the reader to participate. There is much to see and discover as the text invites you to help these two adorable sloth sleuths to uncover who has stolen Lady Velocity’s diamond. Every open page is full of intricate illustrations and clues to discover each time you open this book.
I Want to be a Vase, by Julio Torres and illustrated with brilliant color rendered digitally by Julian Glander, is a very clever and unusual book. A toilet plunger states to its surrounding house objects that it desires to be a vase. To his surprise, the toilet, bathtub, and sink say that this is impossible. However, this doesn’t dissuade the plunger as it rolls to other parts of the house proclaiming this desire. The extraordinary color on every open page is so bright that it practically jumps out at you. This would be great fun to read out loud!
A Bear, A Bee and A Honey Tree, by Daniel Bernstrom and wonderfully painted digitally by Brandon James Scott, has limited text highlighting the imagery of the three main characters: the bear, bee and tree. The open-page illustrations fill the pages with vibrant hues of orange, green and brown. The expressions on the bear and bees are hilarious and the brief text is packed with a punch of this adventure.
The Three Billy Goats Gruff, retold by Mac Barnett and wonderfully illustrated with inks, watercolor and graphite and compiled digitally by Jon Klassen, is an imaginative retelling of this classic by two renowned collaborators. The text is rich in the telling and humorous throughout. The illustrations are done in the wondrous artistic trademark of Klassen. This book begins Scholastic’s new fairytale series. By the looks of this first book, it will be amazing!
Like, by Annie Barrows and illustrated with a fun retro reflection by using Adobe Photoshop by Leo Espinosa, is full of hilarious comparisons with humans. These funny comparisons are discussed with you, the reader, by the boy, who is featured on the cover. The conversation the boy has with you, is so fun and funny, listeners will be laughing out loud. This is a must read aloud.
Sometimes It’s Bright, by Annie Ruygt, is a sweet rhyming tale with minimal text showcasing the uniqueness found in each of us. A young girl notices the magical melodies from a trumpet, the twirling of a ballerina, and warble of a voice. After she paints her impressions, what she discovers is all the talent right inside her. The open-page paintings were done in watercolor and colored pencil.
I Cannot Draw a Horse, by Charisse Mericle Harper, invites the reader to observe this interaction between the drawn shape and the artist. The shape turns into a cat and the cat begins to ask the artist to draw a horse which continues throughout the rest of the book. The drawings, which are reminiscent of Harold’s Crayon, are rich in imagination and have the appearance of being drawn on graph paper. The text and illustrations are simple creating a very clever and inviting read.
Where’s My Cat?, by Seymour Chwast, is a clever exercise in imagination for youngsters ages two to five. This unique book showcases Chwast’s signature style with only one or two objects on each page. After viewing the object(s), the reader guesses which animal could be created. Upon turning the page, the animal is revealed. For instance, a saw and a pickle turn into a crocodile. The bright illustrations were made with pen and ink and digital color and hand lettering.
The Mouse Who Carried a House on His Back, by Jonathon Stutzman and beautifully illustrated using gouache, ink and cut paper by Isabelle Arsenault, is a sweet story about kindness and giving warmth and charity to those in need. A small mouse, who is carrying his house, decides on the perfect location to place his house where there is sky that stretched for miles. First a bullfrog is offered rest in his house. Then a cat comes by who is hungry. Each animal that drops in is surprised that the house is much larger than it appears, and the mouse is truly gracious to help each. The animals and background are aesthetically placed on the page with a marvelous background. There is a die-cut house found throughout showcasing the cute mouse and animals peeking through.