We’re going to start a new end-of-the-year tradition. Since we’re all about picture books, Arree and I are each going to choose two of our favorite picture books from the year to celebrate. (It’s too hard to pick just one!) We’re hoping this will start a conversation where you’ll share some of your favorites in the comments. Then we can all go into 2019 with some great books to study!


Arree’s Two Favorites



OCEAN MEETS SKY, by Terry and Eric Fan, is a magical picture book that takes you on a fantastical journey. You’re immediately hooked by “about a place far away where ocean meets sky.” Then the artwork really grabs you.


Gorgeous artwork and well-timed wordless spreads take your breath away, while connecting you emotionally to the story. Finn, who lost his grandfather, reconnects to him in a dream. Readers go along for the ride with Finn in an emotional and magical journey.


A magical experience with real emotional content makes it one of my favorite books in 2018.



THE WALL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOOK, by Jon Agee, cleverly uses the gutter as a story device. The little knight believes her side is the safe side until her side is flooded. We, as readers, see all the humorous antics on the other side of the wall. Ogre, lions, and rhinos are all afraid of a little mouse.


This book uses playful metaphors to challenge beliefs and points of view. The light touch and humor on a serious theme make it one of my favorite books.


Myrna’s Two Favorites



The poet and former preschool teacher in me absolutely loves Jillian Tamaki’s THEY SAY BLUE. It isn’t a story, though. It’s a poem, a philosophical exploration of a child relating to colors and the world. It voices a kid-relatable perspective that ranges from thoughtful to exuberant.


This is one of my favorites because of the unique imagery Jillian Tamaki captures in both her words and her artwork. After reading it for the first time, I wanted to draw and write poetry. I did draw and write poetry. It makes me hope it gets to have that kind of impact on lots of children.



I challenge you to read THE REMEMBER BALLOONS, by Jessie Oliveros, without crying. Scratch that. When you read it, let the feelings wash over you and cry if you want. It’s that beautiful.


Dana Wulfekotte’s careful use of color gives her mostly black and white illustrations even more emotional impact. They’re just right for the story.


The story itself was inspired by the author’s attempt to record her grandfather’s memories before his Alzheimer’s claimed them. The abstraction of using balloons to signify memories makes the concept of memory loss easier to read about and understand. A book about this subject could be horribly sad, but this one ends with hope, kindness, and love. No other 2018 picture book made me feel as much as this one did, and that’s why it’s one of my two favorites.


Please share your favorites!


We’re going to leave you with a bonus video of Arree reading his 2018 picture book, MIXED. May 2019 be your most creative and successful year yet!