Monday, 12 March 2018

Who Chooses The Books? By Pippa Goodhart

I buy lots of picture books.  My children are now in their twenties, and I don't yet have grandchildren, so I buy picture books for me.  I buy ones I just want to enjoy for myself, but I also buy books with thoughts of using them as examples when I teach classes of adults about writing children's books.

I love the clever, super-charged, thrill and danger of picture books such as Jon Klassen's This Is Not My Hat.  I'm moved to sadness and joy by books such as Jo Empson's Rabbityness.  I love the gentle beauty and humour of wordless book Wave by Suzy Lee.

But, looking at my books, I wondered which of them the young child me would have chosen.  We're all individual as children just as we're individual as adults.  But I know that child me was also different from adult me.  So I went through the books, thinking about what would have appealed or not when I was of core picture book audience age.  I picked out two books.

I would have hugely enjoyed Oi Frog by Kes Gray and Jim Field for its wonderfully logical silliness and humour, and the way it plays with language.

But I know that the book I would have gone back to again and again on my own after a parent had first read it to me would have been Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown.  Why?  Because it is beautiful.  But, more than that, because Mr Tiger goes through emotions that I would have recognised as he copes with feeling an odd one out, testing freedoms, then coming to a happy compromise that lets him both be himself and fit into society.  It's a story I would have thought about a lot, and probably made up extension stories of my own in my head about.  I care about Mr Tiger, and would have done so then.

I would also have enjoyed having a go at copying those wonderful blocky pictures.

So what modern picture book would the child you have particularly enjoyed, and why?


  1. I was obsessed with space and fond of silliness as a child. So I would have adored Jonny Duddle's THE KING OF SPACE, with it's beautifully detailed illustrations and Elys Dolan's NUTS IN SPACE, with it's hilarious sending up of films and TV shows like Star Trek and Star Wars.

  2. I can imagine the little Jonathan devouring those!

  3. The books I liked to read as a child were a bit strange or magical. My child self would choose There's a Tiger in the Garden.

  4. I agree Pippa, I think I would have loved the Oi Frog! series...they're great fun! I'd also have enjoyed 'The day the crayons quit' and reading all the crayons' little letters....a bit like The Jolly postman! That was my favourite!

  5. I would have loved the Oi Frog series too! When I was little, I wanted to be an inventor so I'd have devoured books like Izzy Gizmo or Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist. I don't remember seeing picture books with little brown girls in them (of any race) so I'd have been thrilled with some of the books on offer today. I remember thinking at a very young age that stories aren't meant to be about girls like me - so sad, really. More work to be done but we're getting there.