Picture books that get forgotten because they are challenging or have an oblique message can be perfect in certain situations. They are not the ones for preschool storytimes, but they most definitely can stimulate discussion and deliver a punch and a pause to older kids and adults
One example is the picture book, Jumanji and its partner Zathura by Chris Van Allsburg which leave the reader with a puzzling conclusion. Movies have been made from each of these books, but the movies don’t replace the book experience.
Chris Van Allsburg has written several others that offer challenges and great rewards. Three of my favorites are The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, TheWretched Stone and The Sweetest Fig .
In the district’s collection one copy remains of the true and heart-wrenching World War II story, The Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya in which the zookeeper tells of three performing elephants in the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo whose turn it is to die because there is no food left for them.
Just one copy of Yellow & Pink byWilliam Steig remains in the district. It is a witty conversation between two dolls on the nature of existence, and is great for starting a discussion.
Fortunately, a challenging picture book that won’t be weeded because it won the Caldecott Award in 1991 is David Macaulay’s Black and White which is actually four stories going on at once, interconnecting to make a fifth story and proving that nothing is really black and white!
In the 1997 picture book, The Bird, by Nicholas Allan, the story can be appreciated by kindergartners while the humorous connection to a familiar story will bring unexpected surprise to older kids.
There are so many more! Do you have a favorite picture book for older children and adults? Please let us know about some good ones!
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