Grateful for Children’s Books

While visions of cranberry sauce and turkey are dancing in the heads of those of us at Workman HQ, let it be known: there’s always room for a book on our plate. Like the holidays tend to do, special books fill us with joy, comfort, and leave lasting impressions. To help us get into the spirit, we’ve asked a few of our kid lit authors to answer an important (but tough) question: Which children’s book are YOU most grateful for? We hope you enjoy the variety of these answers, and find something to add to your book collection.


Larissa Hopwood, co-author of MOVE!

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett & Jon Klassen is a story about giving. Annabelle finds a box of yarn that never runs out. When she faces bullies and naysayers, she responds by knitting them things. She changes her whole town with her yarn. When a very rich archduke comes along and tries to buy Anabelle’s box of yarn, she doesn’t sell it. And, when it’s stolen from her by the archduke, he finds the box empty. When the box finds its way back to Annabelle, it’s still full of extra yarn. I am grateful for this book because it speaks for what I believe in: Generosity. Hope. Kindness. Creativity.

Yvonne Kusters, co-author of MOVE!

Crumbs. Spills. Stains. These are inevitable with my two-year-old son; it feels like every minute there’s a new mess.  So, when he got me the book A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell, I fell in love immediately.  Here comes adorable Louie skipping along and then plop—peanut butter flies down on top of him.  My son laughs so hard; he can’t wait for me to turn the page. Louie almost gives up, but he perseveres, messes and all. I’m grateful for the giggles at night, for the silliness, and the big message to embrace the messes, see a way through them, laugh hard, and then continue shining on. 


Tania Unsworth, the author of Brightwood

When I was small, I had a copy of Der Strewwelpter or Shockheaded Peter written in 1845 by Heinreich Hoffman. It was a collection of verses detailing various terrible fates to befall misbehaving children, accompanied by disturbing illustrations in cheerful colors. There was the girl who played with matches (she died in flames) and the boy who wouldn’t drink his soup (he starved to death). Above all, there was Little Suck-a-Thumb whose hapless fingers were snipped off by “the long, red-legged scissor man.” I was terrified by these grisly tales. Yet they were also ridiculous—the punishments completely out of proportion to the crimes. You could read them and feel scared and at the same time laugh at your own fear. I’ve never forgotten that strange book or the lesson it taught me as a writer. That the darkest stories have a way of banishing the dark itself. Perhaps that’s why kids love them. 


Julie Winterbottom, author of Frightlopedia

When I write, I listen to music. Not recorded music, but the rhythms and melodies the words form inside my head. It was A.A. Milne who introduced me to the idea that words can become music through his brilliant book of poems When We Were Very Young. I was only four or five when my father read them to me, and when I revisit them now, I hear his gentle voice. “James, James, Morrison Morrison, Weatherby George Dupree,” my father would chant, and I would delight at the rollicking rhythm. I sensed that my father the English professor liked this book as much as I did. The wit and warmth of Milnes’ inventive rhymes pleased us both enormously. This was our book, and at the end of that poem, we would lower our voices, as instructed, and whisper together, conspiratorially, the coded version of the first line: “J.J., M.M., W.G. Du P.” Even abbreviated, it rocked. 


Dan Yaccarino, author of Happyland series

The children’s book I’m most grateful for is Curious George Gets a Medal. Growing up, my children (and I) vicariously enjoyed the antics of children’s literature’s favorite well-meaning rascal, Curious George. The plot is a sort of shaggy dog story of George wanting to write a letter, but through a completely engaging series of mishaps in which George earnestly tries to correct, he ends up in a space capsule orbiting Earth!

As with all of George’s adventures, it’s an absolute delight, not to mention Rey’s colorful mid-century illustrations. So lovely!

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