The picture books that inspired these authors and illustrators

Guest Blogger  //  Nov 8, 2017

The picture books that inspired these authors and illustrators

It's Picture Book Month! We're celebrating by sharing some of our favorite new and old picture books all month long, so we thought it was time to go right to the source—the authors and illustrators themselves!

We asked some authors and illustrators from our fall ’17 list to tell us about their favorite picture books when they were growing up. Read their answers, below, to find a combination of inspirational, amusing, beautiful and engaging works that you’ll want to add to your own collection!


Sarah Aspinall (Penguins Love Their ABCs)

One of my favorite books growing up was The Jolly Postman by Janet and Allan Ahlberg.   

The postman, who does indeed have a particularly sunny disposition, delivers letters from characters within traditional fairy tales to one another. For example, Goldilocks sends the three bears a letter of apology for breaking in and eating baby bear's porridge and the Wicked Witch living at Gingerbread Bungalow receives a mail order leaflet offering witch supplies.

I loved that on every other page of the book, there was a big envelope containing a real letter inside! The contents of the letters were important pieces of the story and they were such a playful way to engage with the characters. This book is so creative and clever, it remains one of my all-time favorites. 

Marc Brown (Mary McScary)

To prevent her from crying and pooping, I read Where the Wild Things Are to my baby sister when I was in high school. It had a profound effect on me and, I believe, planted a desire to tell stories with words and pictures.

Sandra Magsamen (I Love You Snow Much; Whooo Loves You?; Beecause I Love You)

As a young child, my very, very favorite picture book was A Present for the Princess. It was written by Janie Lowe Paschall and illustrated by Elizabeth Webbe in 1959.

This story tells the tale of a young blind boy who creates a meaningful gift for the princess who will make a visit. The boy goes into his garden and asks the sun, the birds and the butterflies what he should grow as the perfect gift.  The little boy is so thoughtful and caring and collaborates with nature to grow the most beautiful strawberry.

I have come back to this story time and again as a grown up and have been reminded that the gifts we give each other don’t have to be big or complex or cost lots—they simply need to be filled with kindness, thoughtfulness, and love.

David Shannon (Bizzy Mizz Lizzie)

My favorite picture book was If I Ran the Zoo by Dr. Seuss. I could spend all day looking at the 2-page spread of the entire zoo with all the strange Seussian critters peeking out of windows, walking around, or partially hidden. It’s the inspiration for the crowd of bees picture in Bizzy Mizz Lizzie.