I was recently asked who my three favorite children's book authors are. It took a while to answer because I found the question so overwhelming. Reading has been such an enormous part of my life ever since I was a young child. How could I categorize all of the books I've read down to three responses? Would I answer with the favorite authors of children's books I read when I was a child? Or would I go with authors of books I had read in the past year?
My standard answer when anyone asks me what my favorite children's book is, is to say PETER PAN. I never tire of the story. I love the Neverland, I think children can fly, and I will always clap my hands when asked if I believe in fairies.
I could just as easily say LITTLE WOMEN. I love that book, and the moment I begin to read, I still fall right into the story. I read all of Louisa May Alcott's books as a child.
Yet there are so many other children's books which I hold dear.
In the end, I went with three authors I read as an adult, John Burningham, Jacqueline Woodson, and Maira Kalman.
I love John Burningham's illustration. If I could hang an original illustration from SEASONS or MR. GUMPY'S MOTORCAR on my wall I would be very happy. WOULD YOU RATHER? is always so fun to read aloud with children. Besides the gorgeous illustration are the imaginative stories like, COME AWAY FROM THE WATER, SHIRLEY and EDWARDO THE HORRIBLEST BOY IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD, and so many more. I could go on and on about how much I like his stories.
The first book I read by Jacqueline Woodson was LOCOMOTION, and I've been a fan
ever since. Her writing is beautiful and her subject matter is unique. I like the way she looks at the world. She autographed a copy of BROWN GIRL, DREAMING for me at the American Library Association convention last month, and that was so great. THE OTHER SIDE is another of my favorites by her.
Maira Kalman is unique. I love the children's books she has written and illustrated, and I am especially taken with her two recent picture book biographies, LOOKING AT LINCOLN and THOMAS JEFFERSON, LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF EVERYTHING. I was privileged to hear her speak at Stanford about her work. She made it all sound so effortless, when actually so much goes into her books and illustration.
So there it is. I'm pleased with my answer, and also very happy that I don't have to make choices like this often.