The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
Based on an Oscar-winning short film, this beautiful book about books is one of our favorites — about life, the passage of time, and the magic of reading. When Morris Lessmore’s life is turned upside down in a Wizard of Oz-like storm, he comes upon a spectacular abandoned library — and spends the next few decades caring for the (flying) books inside, sharing them with others, and writing his own story. Morris’s beloved books care for him as he ages, and in a heart-tugging ending, his story lives on.
My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann
Our pick for Easter baskets this year is a simple tale of an adventuresome rabbit and his less-adventurous buddy, named Mouse. “My friend Rabbit means well. But whatever he does, wherever he goes, trouble follows.” Bold illustrations tell most of the story — including one of rabbit’s disastrous ideas that involves piling an elephant, rhino, duck, deer, bear, hippo, alligator and squirrel on top of each other. It sparks discussions about how to be a good friend — and always gets laughs from our kids, who love to retell the story on their own.
Little Boy Brown by Isobel Harris and illustrated by André François
A four-year-old boy lives with his well-to-do parents in a hotel in the heart of New York City. Despite being surrounded by the people and bustle of Manhattan, he feels incredibly lonely. When hotel chambermaid Hilda invites him to visit her little house outside the city, his world opens up. “Hilda’s family is smarter than we are. They can all speak two different languages … They’ve been on the Ocean, and they’ve climbed high mountains.” This heartwarming story was first published in 1949 with gorgeous illustrations by André François, who studied with Picasso. Our kids discover something new each time we read it, sparking questions about what it might feel like to be little boy Brown.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen
Sam, Dave and their little dog are going to dig and dig until they find something spectacular. They dig down. They dig left. They dig right. They split up. Nothing. Our kids (who happen to be big diggers themselves) love following the illustrations, seeing how close Sam and Dave come to finding real treasure along the way. They end up digging a tunnel, then falling and falling — ultimately landing right back home. We find the ending a little trippy. Our kids find it magical.
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
You have this one, right? Every home library needs Ludwig Bemelmans’ 1939 classic tale of Madeline. “In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.” The 12 did everything together, but it was tiny Madeline who was the bravest. “She was not afraid of mice — She loved winter, snow, and ice. To the tiger in the zoo, Madeline just said, 'Pooh-pooh.'” Both boys and girls get a kick out of Madeline’s spunk and the delightfully rich illustrations of boarding school in Paris.