Monday, August 26, 2013

16 Peanut Butter and Jelly Reads (Picture Books Made Better When Read Together)

In July Barnes & Noble's blog featured a post of Classic Literature Peanut Butter and Jelly Reads (Books Made Better When Read Together). You can read their post here. It is a delightful post, but kidlitters were left saying, "wouldn't it be great if they did this for picture books?"

Well, just wishing was not good enough for the Awesome Picture Book Group (APBGers, for short), my online critique group. Nope, we decided to make it happen.

So, it is with great pleasure that I bring you Peanut Butter and Jelly Reads (Picture Books Made Better When Read Together) by the Awesome Picture Book Group.

Kirsten Larson's picks...
Boy Were We Wrong About the Dinosaurs by Kathleen Kudlinski and Dinothesaurus by Douglas Florian
Do you still think dinosaurs were reptiles? Guess again. Did you love the Brontosaurus? It never existed. Kudlinski’s book is an entertaining look at how science is constantly evolving, using kid-favorite dinosaurs as her example. Dino lovers will enjoy Florian’s twist on traditional dino books. He couples his dino-rific poems with fanciful illustrations that show the dinosaurs’ personalities and unique traits. Troodon, the smarty pants of the bunch, is pictured with a graduation cap, for example. Dino fans will love these two different takes on dinosaur stories.

Moonshot by Brian Floca and If You Decide To Go To The Moon By Faith McNulty
Moonshot is by far the best-told tale of the Apollo 11 mission. Floca has done a ton of research, but has simplified his text relying upon a rhythmic, lyrical style and detailed illustrations. In If You Decide To Go To The Moon, McNulty writes in the second person, challenging children to imagine themselves on a Moon mission. Pack up your PB&J and orange juice and climb aboard.

Marcie Colleen's picks...
Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkhina and I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
There is no doubt that having something stolen is frustrating, especially a hat. In the classic Caps For Sale, we meet a peddler who carries his wares on his head. However, being a peddler can be tiring and when he takes a rest under a tree, several monkeys steal his hats. Its monkey see, monkey do at its most comical. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen also features a stolen hat, a stare down and frustration, however the outcome is quite different. Perhaps both of these books can be read, not only for enjoyment, but for a look into options of conflict resolution?

Blackout by John Rocco and The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Children are often afraid of the dark, however both of these stories explore darkness in a new and exciting way. In Blackout, a city experiences loss of power and therefore loss of normalcy. Yet, the city becomes alive with new excitement. Rocco’s illustrations evoke whimsy and magic. Lemony Snicket’s The Dark features the dark as a personified character which lives in Laszlo’s basement. One night, the dark comes upstairs to Laszlo’s room, and Laszlo goes down to the basement. Children will be mesmerized by Klassen’s stark illustrations while reading how Laszlo confronts his fear and stops being afraid of the dark.

Jennifer Young's picks...
On The Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman​ and On The Day You Were Born By Debra Frasier
Tillman sets the mood with a text that whispers a sweet angelic tone.  The moon, stars, rain and wind are personified. They share the wonderful marvelous name of the new born baby with the world for all to celebrate. In the picture book, On the Day You Were Born, Frasier speaks directly to the reader as well as Tillman’s On The Night You Were Born. Just like Tillman’s book, the news is spread far and wide. Animals pass along the word from animal to animal of the marvelous news. The Earth, the sun, the moon and gravity as also personified, same as in Tillman’s book, and they make special promises to the new born baby.

Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin and Muncha, Muncha, Muncha by Candace Fleming
From the start, Rubin paints an unlikable main character with Old Man Fookwire who hates certain animals but somehow wins over your heart in the end. He loves to paint birds and in order to keep them around during the winter he leaves them food in his feeders. Unfortunately, squirrels love bird food too and they manage to steal it. “Those darn squirrels!” The more Old Man Fookwire builds his “Veritable fortress around his birdfeeders” they always break in.  In the picture book, Muncha, Muncha, Muncha, Fleming introduces a gentle man named Mr. McGreely who loves to eat veggies and he grows a garden full of them. But three sneaky rabbits love them just as much as he does. “Muncha, muncha, muncha.” Mr. McGreely gets mad. Each day he builds a bigger fence around his little garden, but they still break in. Finally, he builds the most impenetrably fence and he waits.
So, which band of sneaky bandits from these two books were able to figure out a way to get in and eat? You’ll have to read both to the end to find out.

Wendy Greenley's picks...
The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau by Michelle Markel, illustrated by Amanda Hall and Emily’s Art written and illustrated by Peter Catalanotto
One book is nonfiction with an adult point of view and the other uses a fictional child’s point of view but the message in each reinforces the other. When artists pour their soul into their work, no matter whether they are children or adults, criticism stings but artists persevere because the worth of their art isn’t measured in any single viewer’s judgment, the value is in the joy of artistic expression and creation.

Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus, illustrated by Jose Aruego and The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams and illustrated by William Nicholson
Some picture books are kid pleasers. Some picture books resonate better with age. And I’m talking about the age of the reader. While little ones will certainly enjoy these books too, the real pleasure is for the adult reader. Bring tissues.

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle and Edwina The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems
My heart does a special pitter patter for unlikely friendship stories. Not necessarily the interspecies nonfiction friendships (although I like those too!). What makes these two books work so well together is that the friendships come about without any character in either book working towards it as a goal. The friendships develop naturally, without fanfare, but still carry a mighty wallop at the end. I grin every time I reread these.

Rena Traxel Boudreau's picks...
Good News. Bad News by Jeff Mack and Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds. Illustrated by Peter Brown
Besides having bunnies in both stories both do a beautiful job of leaving room for the illustrator while telling a compelling story. In fact both stories need the illustrations in order for the story to make sense. One ending made me laugh and the other made me cry. Perfect to read together.

Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Both are lyrical and beautifully written. They are stories that can be read time and time again and not lose meaning. One has simple pictures and the other complex yet the illustrations fit the text. When I picture them together I could see a "wild" child running around hugging everyone.

Julie Rowan-Zoch's picks...
Big, Bad Bunny written by Fran Billingsley, illustrated by G.Brian Karas and The Black Rabbit created by Philippa Leathers
There is the obvious tie with rabbits in this book - or not! - which you'll see when you read them. Both books have a wonderful climactic arc, just like the roller-coaster ride my Aunt Peg had taken my brother and I on back in Baldwin: the heights not too horrifying, just enough for a satisfying taste of excitement! And there is the innocence, fear, imagination - and protection from something familiar. Both have been infused with visual energy, and executed in traditional mediums: watercolors, acrylics, pencil and ink.

Owl Babies written by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Patrick Benson and Little Lost Owl created by Chris Haughton
A gentle understanding of longing and fear between the 'missing' parents or offspring comes across in both of theses titles, nicely reversed for comparison. Both illustration styles are simple, yet vary enough visually, and in humor and cadence, to stand out when enjoyed together!

Stephen Cahill's picks...
Dogs Don't Do Ballet by Anna Kemp, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie and Giraffes Can't Dance by Giles Andreae, illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees
Dogs Don't Do Ballet is about a little girls' dog who has a dream to become a ballet dancer. Her father keeps reminding her though that "dogs don't do ballet". However, much to everyone's surprise, he's very good. Giraffes Can't Dance is about a giraffe who everyone thinks is an appalling dancer. The difference here is that Gerald, the giraffe, does not believe in himself. But with the help of a musical cricket he finds his style and everyone sees how wrong they were.

Nobody Laughs at a Lion by Paul Bright, illustrated by Matt Buckingham and I Am The King by Leo Timmers
The first is about a lion who gets no respect from any of the other animals. Until he reminds them of his mighty roar. But in I Am The King the lion does not have to do anything to gain the animals' respect. They take turns wearing a crown they have found. But on realising it belongs to a lion they promptly hand it back. Nobody messes with a lion.

Beegu by Alexis Deacon and Q Pootle 5 by Nick Butterworth
When an alien crash lands on earth, falls out with the locals (apart from the children), but is rescued by his folks versus an alien crash landing on earth and the locals help him fix his ship. 

Thanks for stopping by. We hope you choose to enjoy some of these pairings with a cold glass of milk.

What about you? What PBs would you pair together for a yummy combination? We'd like to hear from you!


  1. This was such fun! Looking for all the ones I haven't read in my library catalog. Don't we have a marvelous group?!

    1. This was fun Marcie! Thanks for putting this together for us.

  2. Love this idea and love these pairings!

    Great job all you APBGers!

  3. Oh, what a fun post! Love all the pairings!

  4. Love the list but am extremely impressed by the all star cast in your critique group!

    1. Thanks! There is nice mix in the group of non-fiction, fiction, rhyme and illustrator.

  5. NEVILLE, by Norton Juster and G. Brian Karas & JEREMY DRAWS A MONSTER by Peter McCarty (two of my favorites!). Great post.

  6. What a fun idea! And what a great list of books. I'm not familiar with some so now i get to go check them out. Thanks!

  7. I've got to try these; thanks for pairing them, APBGers!

  8. Great list. But I am a dog and I DO ballet. Well, Mom puts a tutu on me and makes me twirl around for a treat. That's ballet. Sort of....

    Love and licks,

  9. I love the match ups! You are all so clever!

  10. It was fun to finally see everyone's list. I'm looking forward to my next trip to the library.

  11. What a great idea - to pair books up. What fun! But who licks the jelly off the books when we're done?

  12. Gosh, sometimes I even surprise myself. I know we had glimpses of each other's choices beforehand but the actual posted compilation made me all warm and cozy! Thanks for the idea and putting this together, Marcie!

  13. This is an awesome idea for a post! I really loved reading the picks!