I have a rather extensive collection of children’s books. If I go to a bookstore, I make a beeline for the kid’s section. I claim it’s because I’m a teacher, but in reality, I really love well crafted literature for children. I’ve talked about what to look for in kids books before. Now let’s get down to specifics. When you think classic kids stuff, your brain may wander to the likes of Jean Little, Shel Silverstein and Beatrix Potter. They’re classics for a reason. I love them, but I want to offer you a list of authors you may not know about.
Without further ado…
He has won six Emmy Awards for his writing and animation on Sesame Street. Clearly the man is brilliant.
Known for: The Pigeon books: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Don’t Let The Pigeon Stay Up Late!, The Pigeon Wants a Hot Dog!, The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!
My favourites: Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, Hooray For Amanda and her Alligator!
Why I love Mo: This man’s writing makes me laugh out loud when I’m alone in public. He is strange, goofy and names his characters things like Reginald von Hoobie Doobie. These books are just as fun for adults to read as they are for the kids. In the Pigeon books especially, he manages to convey rather advanced emotions just using facial expressions. On a pigeon. I don’t know if I can fully explain his brilliance and hilarity but to say this: if you don’t laugh while reading his books, you are made of stone.
AND: You can follow the Pigeon on Twitter.
This man is from Ireland and is primarily an artist. You can tell because his stuff screams artist from Ireland. Not literally, but you know what I mean.
Known for: How to Catch a Star
My favourites: The Heart and the Bottle
Why I love Jeffers: The first time I picked up one of his books, I fell in love with the illustrations. They are whimsical and a little bit strange, but they lend themselves to using your imagination to fill in the missing pieces. The second time I picked up one of his books, I was enamored with his story telling. He does so in a very delicate way that is exciting and thought provoking. His books make me giggle. They are silly, but not blatantly so. Subtle silliness is this man’s game. The first time I read The Heart and the Bottle, I cried. In public. It is a children’s book that a lot of adults could learn from. It’s sweet, beautiful, and makes you want to start living life with fervor and a tender heart.
AND: He has a cool website.
This man is the legend you’ve never heard of. He’s a vetren of children’s book writing and has won a bunch of awards for his writing and illustrations. Some of my favourite Henkes books were published the year I was born. He’s still going strong and producing literary gold.
Known for: Chrysanthemum, Kitten’s First Full Moon, any story where a mouse is the main character
My favourites: Julius, the Baby of the World, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
Why I love Henkes: His writing style is one that I envy. It’s lyrical and rhythmic without being annoying. He repeats phrases throughout his book that are memorable (“Your name scarcely even fits on your name tag!”, “Wow,” said Mr. Slinger, because that’s just about all he could say. “Wow.”) but not repetitive. He manages to do so in a way that makes the reader feel as though they are in on the joke. The characters in his books are mouse children that are intelligent, quick and creative. He doesn’t dumb down his characters to make them more child-like. They are bright, vivid and exceptionally witty. Just from reading his mouse adventures, you can tell that this man knows that children can teach him a lot. I’m considering naming my first born Chrysanthemum.
AND: Watch the most irritating read aloud of Chrysanthemum here.
There you have it. Three of my favourite children’s authors.
What were your favourites as a child (or as an adult)?