My usual trip to the library involves grabbing picture books somewhat randomly, so I was quite surprised reading through our grab bag of books to find multiple titles in which a character dies. I felt the need to explain to my husband that I was feeling quite well, no need to worry about my well-being! Surprisingly enough, they all turned out to be quite good—so I’m sharing them with you. And just to lighten the mood, I added a few more fun finds to the list.
The Bake Shop Ghost, written by Jacqueline K. Ogburn and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, is an older and wordier picture book about a renowned baker, Cora Lee, who passes away and comes back to haunt her bake shop. Any baker who dares open their own shop in her old bakery flees in terror as she does her best to scare them away—this part also ends up being quite scary to the readers! But don’t worry because next comes the head-strong pastry chef Annie, and she’s not about to let a mere ghost ruin her dream. They end up making a deal: if Annie can make a cake “so rich and so sweet” as to will bring tears to Cora Lee’s eyes, then Cora Lee will stop haunting the shop. The ending of the story is, indeed, so sweet.
Barnacle Is Bored by Jonathan Fenske is a picture book about a barnacle who is quite bored with his stationary life. From his perspective, he sees everyone else swimming around and having a good time, but he’s just stuck to a pier doing nothing. In the end though, something shocking ends up changing his tune! Each page features only a few words and the art is neat and simple, so it’s a quick and fun read.
A Hungry Lion, or A Dwingling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins is a picture book about a hungry lion and a long list of other animals. On each page turn, though, the list of animals ends up shorter and shorter…Uh-oh! Were the animals really all eaten? Will the lion really have the last laugh? This is definitely one picture book that keeps you turning the pages until the end!
How to Be Famous by Michal Shalev is a picture book about one confident pigeon. She thinks she’s super famous because people keep taking pictures of her, but she’s an unreliable narrator. The reader can tell she just keeps getting herself into photos that tourists are taking of other things! Sadly, her huge ego ends up getting the best of her. Still, it’s a funny book that my 6-year-old has asked me to read over and over and over.
Worm Loves Worm, written by J. J. Austrian and illustrated by Mike Curato, is a picture book in which two worms want to wed. A whole bunch of characters feel the need to barge in, telling worm and worm they can’t marry unless they have this and that—because tradition! Who’s the best man? You need to have a best man! Where are the rings? You need to have rings! Where’s the cake? You need to have a cake! The story ends up having a LGBT slant to it as they question which worm is going to be the groom and which worm is going to be the bride, but the whole thing will feel equally familiar for any married couple regardless of sex or gender… Why does wedding culture have to be so complicated?! Let’s just be married!
Bloom, written by Boreen Cronin and illustrated by David Small, is a picture book about a fairy named Bloom. She once helped a kingdom grow, but got kicked out because of her constantly-muddy feet and her messy appearance. During her long absence, the kingdom started falling apart. The new king and queen make their best attempt at finding the powerful creature rumored to possess the magic to restore the kingdom, yet they are unable to accept Bloom and her “magic” solution—good ol’-fashioned elbow grease! But in the end, can a messy fairy, an ordinary girl, and a can-do attitude save the kingdom?