The picture book is one of my favorite art forms. A good picture book has breath-taking text, the kind that you savor, word by word. Each and every word is carefully chosen and placed on the page. And the pictures. There are far too many picture book illustrations that I’d like to frame and put on my walls. I suspect my husband would object to this floor to ceiling wallpapering, because that is what it would take to capture all of the ones that have caught my heart.
I refuse to choose a favorite. There are too many styles and approaches: hilarious and tear-inducing, sweet or morbidly creepy. For me it must be, above all else, memorable.
This weekend’s picture book may not be a familiar one to as many people as it should be: “365 Penguins” by Jean-Luc Frometnal and Joëlle Jolivet. I have read this book dozens of times to each of my kids and it comes up in conversation even more often.
In this book, a family receives an unusual delivery on New Year’s Day: a penguin. But it doesn’t stop there. It comes with a note that says, “I’m number 1. Feed me when I’m hungry.” The next day another arrives…and then another…until the house is overrun with penguins! The penguin mystery is eventually solved, although it doesn’t necessarily solve their pet problems. But I’ll leave that for you to discover.
It is a quirky premise to start with and the illustrations are so special — bold and minimal with lots of black and white (as you would expect) with patches of orange and blue on a stark white page. But I also adore the moments when the family tries to figure out how to organize their penguins. They sort them into groups and bunches and walk through so many math problems without kids even realizing that is what they are doing.
If you haven’t seen this one, definitely check it out!