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Rita's Kids Books for AdultsPhoto of staff member Rita

Meet Rita

I am a reference and children's programs librarian. I want to show everyone how to read and enjoy books. I read widely, non-fiction, typically in many subject areas: history, marketing, cooking, journals in natural history and social sciences, biography. Because of this, I am seldom asked for help finding something which I've never heard of or can't spell. This really helps me do my job. Before the internet I collected reference books and read them. Now I collect books about birds and ABC books. I like to play scrabble. I also enjoy novels that employ wordplay or are kindly poking fun at characteristics like is done in The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series which I have read through a couple of times. The author is humorous and wise. I'm fascinated by language acquisition, locution and the neuroscience of the mind. I have no interest in anyone's dietary restrictions. I have a creative life with musical adult children. I make myself home with a ball fetching dog (part corgi and part lab) and two felines who are not best friends. I can get very lost at stores and garage sales and I am currently obsessed with robots. I am usually found hiking, repurposing objects or painting from imagination. I'm currently reading A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install and liking it. 

Meet her list

A list of children's illustrated or children's fiction books that adults will enjoy. Either they contain marvelous art illustrations, heady text to sigh over or adult subtext that is fun! I've long had a penchant for children's picture books. I enjoyed them enormously as a child. While working at an independent bookstore, I remember trying to hide my glee over being assigned the children's section. [Smiles ear to ear with crazy eyes o(*o*)o ]!  When my own children stopped reading illustrated books, I was glad my job description included staying current on children's selections.

In these works, I get a message the writer or illustrator has for the reader, delivered through paper and ink or digitally, sometimes without use of the printed word. The books on my list are all to me a work of art as well as a work of heart. Some are beautiful, some heartbreaking, others funny, scary or downright weird. Don't hesitate to pick up some illustrated books and enjoy the creativity lavished between their covers.  

The scarecrow's dance          
Scarecrow comes alive one day and shirks his duties and dances away, about the fields to achieve…what? I don't know but I tell you, this book raised the prickles on my neck as scarecrow sauntered over to have a look into the farm house windows. Feeling of foreboding and reference to a barn "red as blood" put some fear into me. Altogether haunting but well done by the pair of artists Yolen and Ibatoulline. Fine if you want to scare children. 
The white cat and the monk : a retelling of the poem "Pangur Bán"          
A retelling of the Irish poem "Pangur Bán" in which a cat's hunting is likened to a Monk's seeking truth in the solemn texts of the library to which the illustrations pay homage.  The story captures well the interplay of the characters. A graceful, quiet story of gratitude inviting your contemplation. Sure to please cat lovers.
Imagine a world          
This book is fourth in a series. Words and illustration take you to a place that hums with the sense of hope. I liked the illustrations shifting scene transitions. One page gave me the sensation of vertigo as I looked at the tilted plain of scene. Can you imagine the illustration for the text "imagine a world… where you can climb up to a valley, paddle along a branch, and feel the cool shade of a forest from a single tree"? If you cannot, then you must see this book.
Also see:
Imagine a day          
"Imagine a day when grace and daring are all we need to build a bridge." I think I will. I enjoyed spending some time looking back and forth through Gonsalves' book. I especially like the use of big skies to transition and the frequent use of trees to bridge depths of field. This is a time and space bending fantasy that stays with you after you close its pages.
The farmer and the clown          
In this unlikely story, a baby clown bounces out of a traveling circus train and is found by a lonely aged farmer. As strange as that sounds, stranger still is that the little clown spends the night at the farm since no one comes back for him! The story then hops around a day on the farm with lots of hijinks by the new friends. For a wordless book, amazingly deep heartfelt emotions are depicted in this push/pull tale.
This is a gorgeous book with mixed media illustrations in soothing tones of green and pink from an award winning Australian illustrator that will lull you into a tale strange and beguiling. The farm will never be the same after the "take" by Mr. Barleycorn. A baby fed in the soil with water? What is this? It bears no resemblance to Mr. MacGregor's! In a story not sinister, but with a mildly menacing tone, the worlds of "out" and "in" are explored. Read it and you'll have to decide.
Good night, Gorilla          
I have marveled at this simple storybook for almost two decades. What do you get when you mix up an imaginative gorilla, a set of keys, an unconcerned zookeeper and an armadillo that looks kinda like a pig? A lot of fun hijinks at bedtime, that's what! Not since the other famously sneaky monkey Curious George have I fallen so for an ape! Basically an almost wordless book that lets you tell the story in your own words. The sequences are such that there is opportunity to build in a catchy refrain. This book is just right for bedtime rituals with little ones and you will have fun too. 
Egg drop          
A story of an Egg that wanted to fly or so it goes (as in Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five). I laughed out loud at this cautionary tale but it might leave the little ones ahhh, shall we say a bit wide eyed!? So definitely not to read at the breakfast nook. The clever illustrations accompany the lengths the unheeding egg will go to experience flying and at the end practical matters are taken in hand so all is well that ends well. *snort*
Also see:
I'm not convinced this pairing was a good idea. But I like the late nineteenth century photographs of children and the vocabulary words this book contains. Read aloud, this book would be an opportunity to improve one's diction. "Young Yolanda Yvette has a yearly yen for an exotic pet."
The story of Frog Belly Rat Bone          
Cementland, grey, hard, full of broken, useless things and twisty wire. Bleak. But there lives a boy with an imagination and a strong desire to find treasure.  The illustrations are highly individual, expressive, and inventive. A feel good book that bursts from the shadows.
Rules of summer          
In this book two brothers relate the lessons learned over a summer in a list that is sure to bring back some forgotten summer memories of your own. The series of hard won axioms poetically illustrate the challenges of growing up. With illustrations brilliant and terrifying, this book has the heat of a June morning, cicadas humming.
Sector 7          
The first pages take me back to the 90s and Pajama Sam's visit to the World Wide Weather factory. Similarly this story presents a boy enticed by a cloud to come up with some new blueprints for clouds when the fun begins. Told entirely in the time of an Empire State Building field trip's day, this is a romp that may leave you feeling dreamy.
Her idea          
This book is a delight for book lovers. Illustrated by a graphic designer the pages are printed with saturated color in limited tones of red, blue, yellow and turquoise on white textural paper. Tells the tale of a creative girl with a swarm of ideas buzzing in her head which presents a problem at times. I found the use of inventive page design in support of the story is spot on. The story speaks of the williness of creativity by showing how to use it.
Sidewalk flowers          
You will find the two characters in this story experiencing a totally different day from one another though they are literally walking hand in hand throughout. I thought this wordless book spoke volumes about the importance of being present and noticing the world around you.
The black book of colors       
I was astonished when I first read this book. It is a quite profound experience to use other senses to see color on the page. A book to treasure for its inventiveness and ability to transform the reader. 
This is one of the quirkiest picture books I've come across in a while and I am now a fan of the author.  While Thompson aims to deal with climate change in a humorous way, the book also asks sophisticated questions. You'll think twice before reaching down between the sofa cushions for that errant remote! 
Also see:
This is a punny quick read but worth it. You too will say "Of course!"
The heart and the bottle          
This story is told in in words and pictures but few words are needed to support the story unfolding in the simple line drawings. A full circle of life story that can bridge a distance for that special someone seeking answers.
Cloth lullaby : the woven life of Louise Bourgeois          
This is a very beautiful delicately woven tale of relationship and artistry. I love the development of Louise's art through her passionate life story presented here as epic and poetic. 
Wonderfully wordless : the 500 most recommended graphic novels and picture books          
This wonderful book lists more books - all wonderfully wordless - to read!
Wonderstruck : a novel in words and pictures          
This book is technically in the Teen section, but it should be included on this list for its artistic storytelling.

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