Do you believe in love at first sight?
The moment I saw my son Thomas I fell in love. All I could say was, “He’s so cute.”
“He’s so cute!”
I said it over and over.
But that day in the hospital wasn’t my first time falling in love. Or my last.
In September 2013 I fell in love with Greg Pizzoli’s THE WATERMELON SEED. I was at the Princeton Children’s Book Festival when I saw one single copy sitting on display. Sweet googly-eyed Croc and his luscious, salmon-pink slice of watermelon caught my eye and I couldn’t resist.
Days later I wrote a love letter about my book. I told the author, “It didn’t take many pages for me to become quite attached to your delightfully silly character and captivated by your deceptively simple screenprint illustrations… When an artist can create a book that has a unique point of view and a purpose –whether to humor, to educate or to comfort a child—and is enticing and reader-friendly then this book deserves its place on the shelf and the artist will have earned my respect.”
Two years have passed since I wrote that letter, you might wonder if I’ve remained faithful to this love.
Hmm… I do still adore THE WATERMELON SEED with the same fervor, but it hasn’t been a monogamous affair. There have been others. Most recently MISTER AND LADY DAY by Amy Novesky and Vanessa Brantley Newtown, VEGETABLES IN UNDERWEAR by Jared Chapman, and WOLFIE THE BUNNY by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah OHora.
These books give me goosebumps. They make me want to pick up the phone and tell all my friends about their enchanting characters and creative details. They are the last things I want to see before I fall asleep at night. They drive me to be a better illustrator and writer. Most importantly, they inspire me to read.
I hope you’ve fallen in love. Will you tell me about your crush? I’m a sucker for a good book romance.
Book Giveaway: Please leave a comment and tell us about a book you’ve fallen in love with, and, for spilling your heart, you’ll earn a chance to win a copy of THE WATERMELON SEED signed by the author Greg Pizzoli.
(contest remains open until February 29, 2016)
THIS IS NOT MY HAT by Jon Klassen is my secret crush. It works for kids and adults and has an equally powerful message to both. Everyone should listen to their inner Yoda and be their own policeman, During the Great Meltdown in 2008, Wall Street thought they were getting away with murder and nobody would notice until the music stopped. And kids are always tempted to step over the line when there is no parent, teacher or policeman there to keep a child in line, it’s up to you to do the right thing.
One of my most recent secret crushes is HENNY by Elizabeth Rose Stanton. HENNY is a chicken who was born with arms instead of wings. How HENNY learns to deal with being different sends a positive message to all readers. She is an amazing character!
FINDINGWINNIE: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall. This book has won my heart. The story of a small bear capturing a soldier’s heart and befriending a little boy is captivating enough. When the boy’s father writes Winnie the Pooh, I fell hopelessly in love! The family photographs and beautiful illustrations complete this wonderful story! So yes, I fall in love with books too!
Beautiful artwork and a lovely post! My son and I fell in love with The True Meaning of Smekday recently! I’ll never forget how much I loved the Phantom Tollbooth when I was little.
Beautiful art work, Virginia, and great post! I have so many secret crushes (including The Watermelon Seed), but one of my recent ones is WHERE BEAR? by Sophy Henn. My youngest child and I fell in love simultaneously, and his discovery of the book inspired a story of my own. That was a nice bonus, indeed! (and you can take me out of the drawing since I already have a signed copy of The Watermelon Seed:)
I’m not taking anyone out of the drawing. If people own THE WATERMELON SEED, I can substitute another of Greg’s titles. He has so many now!
This is such a lovely illustration, Virginia — so tender and quiet! I too have several secret crushes, and here’s one: LEAVES by David Ezra Stein, a story about a bear’s first winter, his initial confusion when leaves start to fall, and then his re-discovery of spring once again as he awakes from hibernation. The illustrations are wonderful, with loose black lines and washes of watercolor. One of my all time favorites!
I love that too Monica!
Thank you everyone who has commented so far! I’m so excited to have all these book recommendations! I’m participating in the “1,000 Picture Book Challenge” this year and need lots of great titles to keep me motivated! Keep them coming folks!
Your illustration captures the comfort and safety of a parent’s lap so nicely. Well done.
My fall-in-love PBs are too many to list, but I have a special fondness for wordless books, and I’ve loved Raymond Briggs’ “THE SNOWMAN” since forever.
Well done, Virginia! Your artwork makes me smile! Thank you for sharing your love of books with us!
I have a long standing crush with THE LORAX by Dr. Suess. I never get tired of the timeless message of taking care of our earth. Long before we heard of climate change, It was the Lorax who gave us the message, “Unless…” I loved reading it to my own kiddos and all of my elementary classes. The discussions that stem from that thought-provoking story are always so amazing.
Speaking of Theodor Seuss Geisel (and namesake awards) THE WATERMELON SEED… Fun-ny! I think we’ve all been there with watermelon seeds! And Virginia, I agree with you about the eye-catching pictures – irresistible, indeed!
I adore all of William Steig’s picture books, especially SYLVESTER AND THE MAGIC PEBBLE and THE AMAZING BONE. Recently I shared his ROTTEN ISLAND with a class of high school students and we all found ourselves giggling and snorting (!) over this master’s wry,
wicked humor, luscious language and beautiful, visionary artwork.
My son and I have always loved reading PETE’S A PIZZA together as I make Thomas into a pie!
Sylvester and the Magic Pebble is one of my all time favorites. A longer book by todays standards but I could read it over and over.
I was in love with A Home For Bird for a few years but recently found a new love in Finding Winnie…it is every bit as good as people say it is. 🙂
Virginia, your lovely picture of a father and son reading together before bedtime conveys a sweet, warm feeling to this grandmother. My crush on a picture book for older children and even adults is A SPLASH OF RED, THE LIFE AND ART OF HORACE PIPPEN, written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Their collaboration produced an inspiring and beautiful book.
A lovely tableau and sentiment, Virginia. I’m in love with all the books so far listed so I’ll add one that hasn’t been mentioned: Grandfather Twilight by Barbara Berger.
Thank you, Chrissa! Do you know the agent Stephen Fraser? That is his favorite book as well!
Yes, I also fall in love-again and again. SOPHIE’S SQUASH & WHEREVER YOU GO are two in my heart. Great post, Virginia.
I LOVE LOVE SOPHIE’s SQUASH!
Tender and evocative illustration! My secret crush is NO DAVID! by David Shannon.
Thank you so much, Virginia, for sharing your artwork and “loves” with us! I would have to say my biggest picture book crushes are BRIEF THIEF by Michael Escoffier, CLOUDETTE by Tom Lichtenheld, ALL THE WORLD by Liz Garton Scanlon. I never get tired of reading those out loud!
Virginia, Its a beautiful illustration- straight to the heart and very touching!
Take a look at; How to draw a Dragon, a very engaging and all round colorful book!
I love HERMAN AND ROSIE by Gus Gordon. It’s deceptively simple and free, but if you look at the spread where they both lost their jobs, it’s the same corner, different times by the clues. They look like they are coming together, but time wise they are moving apart. Amazing job!
Oh, my goodness, Patricia! I love HERMAN AND ROSIE! I was so tempted to mention it as one of my new crushes in the blog! The wordless scene with the moon! Adore!
I love how father and son in this illustration share chin and mouth shape like a real parent and child connection would. This past summer, my kids and I fell in love with MY SUPERHERO UNDERPANTS and RODEO RED to name a few. We’re constantly adding to our book crush collection. What a great interactive post!
I just took out RODEO RED from the library! Haven’t read it yet–we’ll make sure we do tonight! We love Molly Idle’s art!
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This is lovely Virginia – the little boy is so sweet and it’s a nice inspiration to read to our little ones. Thanks for your contribution :))))
That’s an interesting way of saying it, Virginia … crushing on books. I’ve had a passion for books all my life. Back in nineteen-ninety-something, maybe 1993 because this particular book was published in that year, I was in a little bookstore looking around. This book caught my eye, and I was so glad no one was right there at the time because as I read it I was struggling not to cry, it touched me so much. Of course, I bought it. If you haven’t read Emma Bean by Jean Van Leeuwen, pictures by Juan Wigngaard, you must. It is SO BEAUTIFUL. Another book I love is Can’t Sleep Without Sheep by Susanna Leonard Hill, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka. A close third is Rainbows in the Dark by Jan Coates, illustrated by Alice Priestly.
Congratulations, Lynn! You’re the lucky winner of THE WATERMELON SEED! I’m going to contact you today to get your address! Thank you again for commenting! I can wait to read your favorites!
I have a mountain of book crushes. “Olivia” by Ian Falconer (before the series became a series and took off). “The Dark” by Lemony Snicket. And most recently, “Mother Bruce” by Ryan T. Higgins.
I recently fell in love with Mole Music!
What an interesting post. I have a pb crush on Oskar and the eight blessings,MONSTORE and LOOKING FOR A MOOSE by Phyllis Root and MEG THE EGG.
I’m right there with Steve Silbiger: THIS IS NOT MY HAT kills me with its brilliance. And, lately, all of those amazing ELEPHANT & PIGGIE books too…
I always loved Jane Yolen’s OWL MOON. More recently DARE THE WIND by Tracey Fern and WATER IS WATER by Miranda Paul.
Having neither a background in picture book writing nor young picture book readers in my life, I don’t really stay on top of the current picture book scene. However, one picture book I translated from German to English definitely qualifies as a book crush. I fell in love initially with the artwork in GOOSE THE BEAR by Katja Gehrmann before even reading a word. The art and text are both sufficiently amusing and quirky to keep adults as well as kids interested. The story is heartwarming too, reminding us all to be what we want to be.
I love STICK AND STONE by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. It’s so simple, but it says so much! Great post!
I love STICK AND STONE by Beth Ferry and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. It’s so simple, but it says so much. Great post!
I love Big Pigs written and illustrated by Leslie Helakoski. It is such a fun book with wonderful illustrations and mix of verse and prose.
I really enjoyed your written piece. Love is all around and the written word for children is just paramount!!! Thanks 🙂
LENNY & LUCY by Phillip Stead is my most recent crush. I love books with heart!
I love “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” by Mo Willems. I love all his books. His humor is so droll! And, as far as rhymed picture books go, I love Denise Doyen’s “Once Upon a Twice.”
I fell in love with THE DEAD BIRD by Margaret Wise Brown. An oldie but goodie.
The book is being re released soon with new artwork.
I would be honored to win this book.
Virginia, love your art and story! 🙂 Some of my crushes are MR. SQUIRREL and the MOON (hilarious w/ great illustrations), THE SNIFFLES FOR BEAR (also hilarious and wonderful illustrations), THE DIARY OF A SPIDER and THE DIARY OF A WORM (funny and fun illustrations). I could go on and on, but I’ll try to stop….p…..p.
I’m so excited for all these book recommendations! When the month is over, I plan on creating a list of all these loved books to share! Can’t wait to put them on hold at the library!
This is a great post – thanks for sharing and I absolutely love WATERMELON SEED. A few other of my book “crushes” are: SCAREDY SQUIRREL by Melanie Watt, LOVE MONSTER AND THE LAST CHOCOLATE By Rachel Bright, I YAM A DONKEY By Cece Bell and CHICK ‘N’ PUG by Jennifer Sattler. I hope you enjoy reading these books also!
So many great book recommendations in this post! Looking forward to reading many news books!