I grabbed a stack of picture books - old and new - and read through them, uninterrupted, peaceful. Of course, I selected most of the titles because of illustrations that appealed to me and a few others because of authors/illustrators. Unfortunately, they did not have the most recent Caldecott winners on the shelf. And, honestly, I found myself a little disappointed by several of the books I read. I won’t say that the stories were “bad.” There just seemed to be something missing, or they just fell flat in the end.
I've always enjoyed Karma Wilson’s "Bear" books, so I was interested to check out The Cow Loves Cookies. While I thought it would make a great storytime book, it seemed reminiscent of many other sweet humor featuring repetitive phrases - almost formulaic, now. So, although it was enjoyable, it was quite familiar.
On the other hand, I read some Caldecott winners from years past - the stories really stood apart. Zelinsky’s Rapunzel attempted to retell the original tale complete with the story’s unpleasant or tragic aspects - there was drama. And Wisniewski’s Golem dealt with a very intense situation, difficult questions, and with characters from Jewish history and tradition. I was completely engaged throughout both of these stories (unlike with any of the new releases I found).
I do enjoy reading the sing-song rhyming stories to my kids - they’re fun and appeal mainly to young children. I've even had some illustration ideas for my own picture books that would fall into that category. However, picture books can appeal to a wide variety of ages - even adults - and I think it's a subject worth considering. If the introduction to books that we offer our kids repeatedly consists of cute critters looking for hugs, making friends, learning manners, etc., then it’s really no wonder that children quickly turn to exciting, adventure-packed video games (especially boys).
Like I said, I do enjoy many of those books. But, perhaps the picture book market is over-saturated with them. But, maybe I’ve just missed those titles (the bookstore has been closed for over a year now). Maybe they just hadn't made it to our smaller-town shelves. I’d love to hear about any recent picture book recommendations that you all have where the stories have some degree of “impact” on the reader.