My Ten for Ten:
1. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak has so much richness textually and visually. I think each time I read it, I see something new.
2. THE LION AND THE MOUSE by Jerry Pinkney is brand new but must be on this list. Not just because he (finally) got a Caldecott, but because he can do so much with line and shape and placement.
3. RAPUNZEL by Paul Zelinshy. One of the most exquisitely painted books. The design of the book cover so that it blends into the end papers, the thought given to single or double page spreads, the palette. All heavenly.
4. THE THREE PIGS by David Wiesner. Caldecott, too. I love how this book takes off (pun intended) as a variation without losing the rather traditional feeling, especially at the outset.
5. TOO MANY TAMALES by Gary Soto also has luscious (and lush) illustrations but it is the story of Mom's missing ring (perhaps in the tamales?) and the solution to finding it that makes this a perfect children's book. The child's sensibility is at the center.
6. FAMILY PICTURES: CUADROS DE FAMILIA by Carmen Lomas Garza. Chances are the island I would be on is South Padre, so nothing like a book in English and in Spanish about growing up in the Rio Grande Valley to add to my top ten.
7. ALPHABATICS by Suse MacDonald is a perfect concept book. The letters form from the objects that begin with them (ugh, grammatically that is awful!).
8. THE LEGEND OF THE BLUEBONNET by Tomie dePaola has deep roots here in Texas, of course. dePaola has created a book that can be summed up in one word: generosity.
9. THE SNOWY DAY by Ezra Jack Keats. Quiet, unassuming and yet powerful.
10. DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS by Mo Willems. No brainer. Simple and yet deceptively so. Mo knows kids, respects them, honors them, includes them.
This was more difficult than I thought it would be. I cheated a bit to include some nonfiction. And there are still plenty more I would want to add to the stack. But this was a terrific exercise. At the end of most semesters, I have students rank order the books they read for class. They get into groups and share their lists (you should hear the discussion!) and then award points to come up with a group ranking. Finally, we do an entire class ranking. It is amazing to see the diversity of opinions when we do this (and I stole this idea from Chris Crowe, BTW).