Whoa, that’s a long title. But it’s accurate! I asked some of my favorite authors and illustrators to pick three stand-out picture books of 2009. It wasn’t an easy task. I know because I couldn’t decide myself! So I dumped the job on them, just like New Jersey got dumped with snow this weekend. Except they’re a lot warmer than I am, cuddled up with good books instead of buried beneath a foot of the white stuff.

Check out their amazing selections and add a new book to your holiday wish list!

Boni Ashburn

Author of Hush, Little Dragon and Over at the Castle

Rhyming Dust Bunnies
by Jan Thomas
Beach Lane Books
January 2009

A simple, hilarious introduction to rhyming that is not only adorable to look at, but also invites audience participation and is a perfect read-aloud. That’s right, perfect.

You Never Heard Of Sandy Koufax?!
by Jonah Winter and Andre Carrilho
Schwartz & Wade
February 2009

Striking illustrations coupled with a fantastic voice–this book makes you FEEL baseball. Jonah Winter is a picture-book biography genius–I had a hard time choosing between this one and Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude Is Gertrude (which has an equally excellent voice!).

Egg Drop
by Mini Grey
Knopf Books for Young Readers
July 2009

Excellent humor of the dark, dry and deadpan sort, coupled with Grey’s gorgeous art.

This was impossibly hard! Three is too just too few. My “honor books” would be A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis, Monkey With A Toolbelt And The Noisy Problem by Chris Monroe and Thunder Boomer! by Shutta Crum and Carol Thompson.

Jannie Ho

Illustrator of The Great Reindeer Rebellion and Light the Menorah

Around the World with Mouk
by Marc Boutavant
Chronicle Books
November 2009

Last year when I was in France, all I could think about was getting my hands on this book (which was originally published in French), but only to find out later that Chronicle books were publishing it in the US this year. Marc Boutavant is one of my favorite illustrators; I’ve read his style described as “the modern day of Richard Scarry,” and I agree! With so many little details to look over, there is always something new to discover each time I open it.

Big Rabbit’s Bad Mood
by Ramona Badescu and Delphine Durand
Chronicle Books
March 2009

Another one from Chronicle! I can’t resist Delphine Durand’s illustrations–so many funny little details to look at. I own many of her books, and am obviously a fan…(even wrote her a fan email!) Even though this story is about a grumpy rabbit, one can’t help but smile when looking at her silly characters.

The Great Paper Caper
by Oliver Jeffers
HarperCollins Children’s Books
April 2009

I’m a great admirer of those who write AND illustrate their books. Oliver Jeffers’ illustrations are super cozy and serene, I want to live in that forest with the animals! Thumbs up to this quirky, winter mystery story.

Jacqui Robbins

Author of The New Girl…and Me

A Book
by Mordecai Gerstein
Roaring Brook Press
April 2009

Kirkus called it “Metafiction for the picture-book set.” A young girl who lives in the book with her family struggles to find her story, trying on different genres and marveling at the giant mushy faces (that’s us) looking in on her. It’s funny, it’s smart, and it is truly unique. Plus, we read it five hundred times in the first month we had it and I never tired of it.

Duck! Rabbit!
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
Chronicle
March 2009

I was smitten with this book from the start. The concept is simple: is it a duck or a rabbit? Two voices argue. Giggling ensues. As I blogged in July, we get extra giggling in our house because my preschool son does not have the cognitive ability to see it both ways and so he thinks the point of the book is that some poor dope thinks that bunny’s a duck.

Okay, I would be lying if I didn’t pick Two of a Kind, by, um, me (and Matt Phelan).
Atheneum
July 2009

I’d like to be cool enough to pretend I didn’t dance like a four year-old fairy girl whenever I turn to the page with my name on it. But I’m not. And I do. More than that, though, I still love the story and the way it makes kids nod in recognition.

Patricia Storms

Author/Illustrator of The Pirate and the Penguin

It’s really hard to pick just three books! Being a Canadian, you might wonder if my choices are Canuck books. Yup, they are…and they are all very unique and engaging.

The Perfect Snow
by Barbara Reid
Scholastic
October 2009

Barbara Reid is a treasured Canadian talent who once again creates a visual delight with her plasticine illustrations. Reid creates a delightful story about the joys of creating snowmen and snow forts in the perfect snow of a winter day.

The Imaginary Garden
by Andrew Larsen and Irene Luxbacher
Kids Can Press
March 2009

Andrew Larsen’s The Imaginary Garden is a beautiful story about the special bond between a grandchild and grandparent, and the power of the creative imagination. Luxbacher’s illustrations are magical and bursting with colour.

The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear
by David Bruins and Hilary Leung
Kids Can Press
September 2009

And finally, The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear is charming and fun story about friendship, and celebrating the differences in others. Hilary Leung’s illustrations are bright and utterly adorable!

Michael Sussman

Author of Otto Grows Down

Spoon
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Scott Magoon
Hyperion
April 2009

Modesty prevents me from mentioning Otto Grows Down (darn, I mentioned it!) But I also loved Spoon, which—like Otto—was illustrated by the supremely talented and charming Scott Magoon. I’m always amazed at Scott’s versatility, and once again he has employed the perfect style for this sweet and quirky story. I also admire Amy, since I’ve tried unsuccessfully for years to come up with a picture book about an inanimate object. Not an easy task, and she makes it look simple.

Starring Lorenzo, and Einstein Too
by Mark Karlin and Sandy Nichols
Dial
April 2009

Mark, who is the author/illustrator of many fine picture books, including Mendel’s Ladder and Music Over Manhattan, has produced an endearing story which celebrates the importance of family and the power of the imagination. The cool, retro illustrations are superb.

Finn Throws a Fit!
by David Eliot and Timothy Basil Ering
Candlewick
August 2009

Finally, I’m wild about David Eliot’s Finn Throws a Fit! This book is hilarious, and it’s a model for writers striving to tell a compelling story in the fewest words possible. Timothy Basil Ering’s artwork is astounding. I don’t know of a more creative illustrator working today.

So what were your favorite picture books of 2009?
Please leave a comment!