Goodreads Gift Guide: Brendan Wenzel's Picture Book Picks

Posted by Cybil on November 18, 2016


Goodreads asked children's book author Brendan Wenzel, whose book They All Saw a Cat is a 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards finalist, to tell us what picture books he'll be giving as presents this year and why. He's got some great suggestions for those of you looking to buy a book for a young child this holiday. And check out our full kids' gift guide:

Selecting the right picture book is always tough, and in a year like 2016, when great book after great book has landed on the shelves, it's particularly daunting.


My plan this holiday season will be to share books that I think the kids in my life will be able to get lost in and explore for many hours, and that will reveal themselves in unexpected and wonderful ways with each re-reading; books that will provide opportunities to see the world with fresh eyes, broach new subjects, and raise interesting questions.

Above all, I'll be looking for books that not only cultivate wonder and curiosity, but function as a time-capsule for all those feelings that become harder to access as we get older. I want a book for the long haul: Something that twenty years from now someone will dust off an think, "I remember this book. I loved this book, and I still love this book." Here are a few fantastic recent titles that I think will stand the test of time.


The Storyteller by Evan Turk
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Arguably one of the most innovative illustrators in recent years, Evan Turk doubles down with an equally brilliant text in The Storyteller. The book, set in Morocco, tells the story of a young boy who returns again and again to visit a local storyteller and drink in tales of the past. The book's kaleidoscopic illustrations simmer with story in every mark, and provide countless secret corners and alleyways where readers will find new things to enjoy every time they pick it up.


Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant and Christian Robinson
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I have never been a huge fan of cold weather, but Cynthia Rylant's Little Penguins made me wish I was bundling up for a day outside in the snow. Rylant's sparse text dances perfectly with Christian Robinson's evocative imagery, and I found myself once again marveling at what a perfectly formed world Robinson creates with his brilliant economy of form and dynamic design. This book will make both children and adults long for winter.


The Polar Bear by Jenni Desmond
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A truly unique and beautiful book, The Polar Bear tells the story of a young girl who falls asleep while reading…well…The Polar Bear. What follows is a beautifully rendered, playfully meta tale that lands somewhere between a wonderful dream sequence and a natural history of one of the planet's most iconic large mammals. In this book, Jenni Desmond has not only brilliantly created an exiting way to celebrate a marvelous creature, but also perfectly captured the awe and magic that the natural world can make a child feel.


The Journey by Francesca Sanna
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Set in an unspecified place and time, The Journey tells the story of a young girl and her family who must flee their home in 'a city close to the sea' to escape a war. Filled with exquisite graphic illustrations depicting both the hardships of the families journey and the fantastical world of the main characters imagination, this book will captivate readers. Despite engaging with difficult subject matter, Sanna has managed to create a book that I imagine children will want to return to again and again.


We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
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Klassen adds to a long run of near perfect picture books with this beautiful tale of two tortoises and a single hat. After spending thirty-two pages in this story's stunning western landscape, I had laughed, sighed, and maybe even left behind a very appropriate cowboy tear or two.



Need more ideas? Check out our full Goodreads Gift Guide!

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

Rosalie McCreary In the description of the book "We Found a Hat", by Jon Klassen, should the word 'stories' be a possessive ' story's' instead of plural as written? Or did I misinterpret what I read?
Thanks for your time!


message 2: by Gillian (new)

Gillian I spot things like that all the time and wish I didn't because I hate calling attention to people's mistakes. Life is too short and precious to be picky-picky.


message 3: by Druzelle (new)

Druzelle Thank you! Exactly the help I needed. Going to the bookstore today.


message 4: by Prasanna (new)

Prasanna So true Mr Gillian.


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