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 Books best picture 2013 of

Great picture books inspire, challenge and amaze. They are beautifully illustrated, masterfully worded and appeal to all ages.

Here is my selection for 2013. I hope you love them as much as I do.


I have linked them through to Bookworld, Australia’s Newest Online Bookstore with Amazing Prices - Free Oz Delivery! The book prices are generally cheaper than AMAZON but with no Delivery charge Australia wide.


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1. Virginia Wolf



Virginia Wolf by creative duo Kyo Maclear
and Isabelle Arsenault.

I loved this book.


Virginia wakes up in a Wolfish mood, she is having
a really bad day.  Her sister Virginia, tries everything she can to cheer her up.


Vanessa invents Bloomsberry in paint on the walls
of the house. This amazing imaginary utopia, sees Virginia slowly transformed from Wolf to sister again.


The illustrations and typography are
amazing. The enlarged text must be read loudly.
The small diminutive text demands to be read submissively.


The video offers a fabulous opportunity to compare

a book with a video.


The Interview with Kyo Maclear  explaining the origins of the story, is  based on the relationship between author Virginia Woolf and her sister, painter Vanessa Bell.


I read this book to students K-6,it could be read K-12 and adults are also delighted with it. Each age brings different understandings and interpretations.


There is much to discuss in the book. I focused on the concept of Bloomsberry - an imaginary utopia.

The discussion, writing and illustration that followed were amazing. The students then wrote about their own “Bloomsberry”, enlarging some of the type and then illustrating their Bloomsberry







2. How to Be an Explorer of the World


Guerrilla artist and illustrator Keri Smith’s  How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum is a wonderful compendium of 59 ideas for how to get creative by  with everyday objects and your surroundings.


Explore your world as both artists and scientists do,

by observing, collecting, documenting, analyzing, and comparing.


This is a hugely creative way to tackle the new Syllabus Documents. It is a creative lesson plan for the entire year.


Take a look at the topics covered below, a truly amazing must have books for inspirational teaching


Published in 2008 - I just discovered it this year.


It offers something for all ages.










3. You are Stardust


You Are Stardust- writer Elin Kelsey and artist Soyeon Kim 


An extraordinary picture-book that that is boldly optimistic and introduces the idea that all nature is connected.


“Every tiny atom in your body came from a star that exploded long before you were born."


Based on current science, this exquisite picture book provides a great jumping off point for children to use their imaginations and wonder about some big ideas.


”I wrote this book as a celebration — one to honor the extraordinary ways in which all of us simply are nature. Every example in this book is backed by current science. Every day, for instance, you breathe in more than a million pollen grains."


Watch the Video

There is also an app for this book. Showing how to create you own diorama, and looking at connections between people and nature.


This book is perfect for creative activities! Try piecing together different materials to make your own collage/diorama!  I'm dying to make one of those little flying capsules on the cover.


4. Esther's Rainbow


Esther spies a rainbow peeking out from under her chair.....


Here begins a delightful story about finding colours everywhere. Colours that she can taste, hear, feel see and smell. The descriptions of the colours are luscious.


I used a light prism as we read the book so that listeners could view the colours as we read the story.  It was fabulous to discuss the colours of the rainbow and the science behind the frequencies of the light using this book as inspiration.


But most exciting were the descriptions the listeners wrote about their favourite colours inspired by this book, they wrote much more visceral descriptions.




5. Sparkle and Spin


This book was first published in 1957 but I just discovered it in 2013. And it is one of my best books of 2013


Sparkle and Spin - A Book About Words

By Ann Rand and Paul Rand


Through harmony and rhythm, resonance and pitch, Ann Rand inspires readers to listen to the tuneful play of her text as it sings off each page. Illustrated with graphic designer Paul Rand's colorful, witty artwork, Sparkle and Spin is a children's classic


With its bold, playful interplay of words and pictures, the book encourages an understanding of the relationship between language and image, shape and sound, thought and expression.


this book is a great way to develop students understanding of words and how they work.




6. The Coat

The Coat by Julie Hunt, Ron Brooks,

won the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year 2013


A fabulous book with magical illustrations, I read this K-6, the themes run from literal to metaphorical, it appeals to all ages from 5 year olds to adults. My 5 year olds loved the idea of flying and dressing up and thought it was SPLENDID.


Year 6 engaged with metaphorical themes

"It’s the way you look at the world that makes it change. Your attitude changes your hopes change and most of all, your life changes."


This story tells me to never give up and you should remember this too."


The Coat stood in a paddock at the end of a row of strawberries. It was buttoned up tight and stuffed full of straw and it was angry. 'What a waste of me!' it yelled. Then along came a man. 'I could do with a coat like that,' the man said. Together, swooping and swinging, they travelled to the Cafe Delitzia, and had the night of their lives.


'Miraculous and life affirming and totally mysterious.'Kathy Kozlowski, Readings Carlton


The imagery is reminiscent of early 20th century Paris, it is reminiscent of the artwork of Chagall. the book is magical and the illustrations change and become more colourful as the tale becomes more colourful.  What would happen if you found a magic coat? Are realising your dreams just a matter of changing clothes? Is the the coat or the confidence the coat brings that makes the difference?


7. The Dark



I must admit to being a huge fan of Lemony Snicket

- David Handler.


The Dark by Lemony Snicket

A heart warming allegory on overcoming fear.


Laszlo is afraid of the dark. The dark lives in the same house as Laszlo. Mostly, though, the dark stays in the basement and doesn't come into Lazslo's room. But one night, it does. This is the story of how Laszlo stops being afraid of the dark.


The gouache-and-digital illustrations make the most of the references to light and dark, the palette is confined to muted brownish  tones that contrast  with the inky black. They are fabulous and scream to be used as an art lesson inspiration.


The text is simple and effective. The use of personification in this simple context is a great way to introduce this concept.


Take a look at the promo Video



8.The Pros & Cons of Being a Frog


RUNNER UP for the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year 2013

The Pros and Cons of Being a Frog by Sue deGennaro

I loved the cover of this book, I couldn't wait to read it.

Sue deGennaro brilliantly combines modern yet whimsical illustrations that are just so engaging.


Frogboy and Camille are friends. Frogboy likes to dress-up, while Camille likes numbers. They are different but that’s why they like each other. Camille speaks in numbers and Frogboy likes to dress up.


Then things go terribly wrong and Frog boy composes a careful list of Pros and Cons before meeting with Camille to apologise.


Each time I read this book I discovered something new. The mirroring of the 2 friends on the front cover, leading to interesting drama activities and the effects this has on relationships. Their stances throughout are gentle. Leading to a discussion of body language and the effect it has on resolving problems. Friendship and how it involves consideration and understanding. Does dressing up change you? And I did love the last image - Camille is wearing the frog feet to show acceptance of her friend's interest in dressing up.


The Video Interview with Sue on generating ideas is great to watch and inspiring for young writers and illustrators.

9. It's a Miroocool!


Shortlisted for the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year 2013


"It's a Miroocool" by Christine Harris and Ann James

 I loved this little story.  I first read it when I had just seen "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"

A lovely light, gentle and whimsical film with a great deal of optimism encapsulated by the quote


"Everything will be all right in the end... if it's not all right then it's not the end."


Audrey is worried that the tooth fairy will never find her out ‘back of beyond’ when she loses her first tooth. Audrey leaves clues for the Fairy that are all destroyed. But in the end it all works out.


Visually, this is just a delicious treat; the Australian outback is captured wonderfully, Audrey positively dances about the pages, with James’ lovely, scrappy drawings perfectly capturing the earthy tones of the outback.


This book is a great introduction to the intrepid Audrey series including the award winning Audrey of of the Outback.



10. With Nan



HONOUR BOOK for the Children's Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year 2013


"With Nan" from Tania Cox & Karen Blair is a glorious picture book that celebrates finding joy in the simple things.


Nan and Simon go for a walk, mindful of Nan's opening words of wisdom,


'There are some things that aren't always what they seem.'


A leaf that flies…

A rock that hops…

These are some of the wonderful things that Simon sees on his walk with Nan.


A simple story about camouflage is brought to life with the beautiful illustrations.


But it is about more than just a story about camouflage. It is about creating memories and also remembering. It is about family relationships. It is also about imagination.


To me the images on the right can be interpreted as  Simon's imaginings. what do you think? "A rock that hopped" is a camouflaged frog , but Simon imagines everyone hopping.








The rock that hopped