Peter Reynold’s story of Jerome, a logophiliac young man, is one of the few books out there that delights in language. Though many children’s books are written beautifully, relatively few are about words themselves. (A major wonderful exception is 2014’s The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus.) In Reynolds’s story, however, Jerome collects scraps with words on them, finding joy in each syllable and multi-syllable word. He is a reader reading and his pleasure in words is mirrored by those who read of his vocabularistic adventure.
Wenzel’s Caldecott winning They All Saw A Cat, which explored the different ways various creatures perceive a wandering housecat, was an exercise in empathy. Hello, Hello is an exercise in enthusiasm: Through vibrant illustrations and simple rhyming text, Wenzel walks young readers through a menagerie of exotic animals (including 30 of which are on the endangered species list) all of which share something in common. It’s a simple, joyous book that celebrates the diversity of wildlife.
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Creating stories for the youngest book-lover is not child's play. The best books have similar traits. Life-affirming messages pitched appropriately for this audience, in a way that engages, while bringing out the best in an older reader. When it all comes together the result is a book that transcends age. We feel these are the best of the best. (Many of these are available as "board books.")