Picture Books Are Magic!

Books Are Magic
Nov 13 · 3 min read

by Emma Straub

When people ask me how many books I read, I hesitate before answering — it’s never enough to sound like a lot, as much as a person who owns a bookstore should read. But that’s only if you don’t count picture books, which I read zillions of times a day, as I have since my first child was born 6 years ago. As so much of my reading time has shifted from novels to picture books, I have a lot of opinions. Dr. Seuss? Okay in small doses, and Yertle and the alphabet books are best. The Runaway Bunny? Better for clingy parents than for small children. Carson Ellis? National treasure, future winner of the Nobel prize.

If you, like me, have small people to read to, or have gifts to buy for the under-5 set, here are some of my 2019 picture books! Happy Picture Book Month! Or, as we say, every month!


The Thing About Margaret Wise Brown, by Mac Barnett and Sarah Jacoby

Most picture book biographies are deadly boring. There, I said it! They try to cram a whole life into 36 pages, and tell every part of the person’s life story. Not so here! Barnett, who is more prolific than seems possible, does a perfect job getting MWB’s essence onto these pages — her quirks and weirdnesses and beauty. It’s heaven.

Another, by Christian Robinson

Christian Robinson is a true artist, and this book asks the reader to flip it upside down! What fun! His drawings are joyous and energetic, and this wordless book tells a great story. A cat! A kid! An adventure!

How Do You Dance? by Thyra Heder

This book will get your kids up and moving, even if they, like you, are deeply sedentary by nature. As a reluctant dancer, this really spoke to me, and my kids thought it was hilarious.

Truman by Jean Reidy, illus. Lucy Ruth Cummins

This is a love story between a girl and her pet turtle, and makes tiny things — a rug! A flower! — seem enormous. Friendship matters, even when only one of you can talk. We read this one at bedtime.

Up Down Inside Out by JooHee Yoon

JooHee Yoon’s style is unmistakable, and once you’re a fan, you’d recognize her work anywhere. I love her previous book, Beastly Verse, which is a collection of poems, and this, a collection of phrases — A watched pot never boils, even a broken clock is right twice a day — prompted very interesting conversations with my 3 and 6 year olds.


Because isn’t that what it’s all about, a chance to talk and cuddle? A new means of communication? Picture books have always been where it’s at. Come see us in the store and we can pull a stack for any kid — bug-lovers and fart-gigglers, shy kids and noisy ones, truck enthusiasts, horse enthusiasts, whoever lives in your house.

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Books Are Magic

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The musings from a bookstore in Brooklyn

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