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 Advanced picture book recommendations
Author: Jye 
Date:   01-12-11 11:32

Hi there,

I have a 7 year old daughter who has been assessed as gifted (PG) but she has suddenly reverted back to just wanting to read picture books. She currently is complaining that she can't find any picture books that are deep or challenging so I thought I would try and find some myself and pop them under the tree for Xmas. She is quirky, loves nature and animals and anything to do with the environment, she loves quirky characters. Has read all Roald Dahl's and loved them, loved Harry Potter series and Narnia and has loved authors like Michael Morpurgo and Brian Jacques as well as many others. She loves non fiction as well, so I am thinking perhaps picture book based around a non fiction subject.

Does anyone have any deeper more sophisticated picture book ideas please? I have a feeling she wants picture books that are shorter than short chapter books with more pictures than word but wants the story to be deep and meaningful, does this even exist? I have googled and come up with lists and lists but thought someone on here might have some first hand experience with some awesome books that may fit the bill.



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 Re: Advanced picture book recommendations
Author: Karen 
Date:   02-12-11 13:54

DS 4 (prob HG) and his PG friend (8) love Shaun Tan - the Lost Thing. Very quirky, not heaps of words but very involved illustrations, lots you can read into it.

This is the description from a website
'The Lost Thing is a humorous story about a boy who discovers a bizarre-looking creature while out collecting bottle-tops at a beach. Having guessed that it is lost, he tries to find out who owns it or where it belongs, but the problem is met with indifference by everyone else, who barely notice it’s presence. Each is unhelpful in their own way; strangers, friends, parents are all unwilling to entertain this uninvited interruption to day-to-day life. In spite of his better judgement, the boy feels sorry for this hapless creature, and attempts to find out where it belongs'

There are other Shaun Tan books but I haven't read any personally.

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 Re: Advanced picture book recommendations
Author: Tanya 
Date:   05-12-11 09:31

this may or may not be helpful as it is my son rather than another girl - but he loved the Asterix and TinTin books at that age and still does many years later. He has the same interests as your daughter and although these books don't necessarily have those nature/animal themes, something about them means he has read them over and over again. Our library has an enormous selection of them, and I would guess most do - they are classics.

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 Re: Advanced picture book recommendations
Author: Janet 
Date:   05-12-11 12:59

It's possible your daughter just likes pictures (in and artistic or visual appreciation like way), rather than not wanting to read per se. There are some clever comic style books available. Try one from the library to see if she likes them. Also, my son started really getting into the non fiction. From Guiness book of Records, 'exploded' machines and buildings, mythology - to science magazines and medical tomes, with lots of gory pictures and explanations of diseases and physical conditions. Kids are often into quite gory stuff at this age.

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 Re: Advanced picture book recommendations
Author: Ali 
Date:   05-12-11 16:13

"I have a feeling she wants picture books that are shorter than short chapter books with more pictures than word but wants the story to be deep and meaningful, does this even exist?"

Absolutely - you can find very sophisticated picture books for all ages including adolescents and adults (and some that I wouldn't necessarily contemplate giving to a 7 year old).

I get incredibly saddened when I hear parents say that their child no longer reads "picturebooks" because they are babyish or they have moved on to chapter books. Both my gifted children (now 9 and nearly 13) still both enjoy picture books and 'chapter books."

A good picture book assists with learning to read subtexts, gain insights into character and theme and can be used to raise issues and stimulate discussions. Many ‘sophisticated‘ picture books (books aimed at older/advanced readers in both content and style) are suitable for use with adolescents as they deal with subjects as serious and diverse as nuclear war, the effect of cocaine on a community, homelessness, and the holocaust.

Wordless books, graphic novels, and fractured fairytales, also provide the reader with rich multilayered experiences through the picture book genre.

Nancy Polette, author of Picture Books for Gifted Programs, says they embody every productive and critical thinking skill. Prof Karin Murris, producer of the teacher’s resource, Teaching Philosophy with Picture Books says “In picturebooks the two sign systems (text and image) are interdependent creating a complexity that makes readers think. The visual provokes to contemplate and the text compels us to read on and find out more about the narrative. Constructing meaning is very complex.”

My own children (and I) return again and again to Colin Thompson’s deeply philosophical and visually intricate picture books "How to Live Forever", "Looking for Atlantis", "The Last Alchemist" and "The Tower to the Sun". Other personal philosophical favourites are "The Bunyip of Berkely Creek" which asks Who am I? and "Westlandia" where big and little ‘p’ politics are investigated through the perspective of a tormented gifted child who becomes an oppressor building a new civilisation.

Your daughter may well enjoy some 'fractured' tales. The off-the -wall interrogation of traditional folktales is very appealing to gifted children. They rely on the reader having ‘intertextuality’ which means the reader interprets the story through previous experience of other texts and stories. My daughter recommended the "The Jolly Postman and Other Peoples Letters", Lauren Child’s "Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book" and "Beware of Story Book Wolves", and "The Princess and the Pizza", all discovered through her school library, while her younger brother has enjoyed "The Stinky Cheeseman and other Fairly Stupid Tales", and "The Wolves in the Walls."

The Journal of Gifted Education International, Vol 22, has a comprehensive list of “70 outstanding picture-book stimuli for P4C enquiries.” Versions of this article can be found through an internet search.

Picture books also help develop sophisticated visual literacy and art appreciation. And for visual spatial learners picture books can be the perfect 3d reading experience!
And don't just look at books with words - there are some fantastic wordless books that really appeal to gifted kids. Mine have loved "Zoom", "ReZoom" and "The Other Side" , Shaun Tan’s "The Arrival" a sophisticated wordless chapter book examining immigration issues, and "The Red Tree" (for when no-one understands!)(. Also "The Snowman", and republished French wordless book, The Chicken Thief"

Gifted children in particular seem to appreciate investigating the issues of meaning and how it can be constructed and interpreted. How does an individual reader make meaning? How can a story be interpreted? How do different illustrators choose to illustrate the same tale? How do different authors/illustrators approach similar stories or themes?

There are some amazing NZ picture books as well - "Brodie" deals with the death of a ten year old through the eyes of his classmates, "The House that Jack Built" cleverly interweaves the maori and pakeha perspective to colonisation... A University of Waikato initiative lists some of NZ's best picture books.

Most libraries have a "sophisticated picture book section" for older readers so I would just start taking out a whole lot from there and also visit your school librarian.. they are happy to share with parents the best books in their collections and often know which ones different children enjoy.•

I also just found in my local library“1001 children’s books you must read before you grow up”, Ed. Julia Eccleshare. Penguin Group, 2009. Recommendations are sorted by target age group’ and providing a précis of some of the best children’s books , both picture books and chapter books, from the 1930’s to 2009.
sorry this has got so long... I could go on and on about the benefits of picture books for the gifted.. and i didn't even touch on the fact that they are fun to read for adults too....and perfect for emotional closeness when you read them together with your school aged child.....

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 Re: Advanced picture book recommendations
Author: Dinglemouse 
Date:   05-12-11 17:26

Anything by Colin Thompson but in particular 'Falling Angels', 'The Paradise Garden' and 'The Tower to the Sun'.
Absolutely agree in relation to Shaun Tan's 'The Lost Thing'. He has another called 'The Red Tree' which is brilliant but would depend on your child (it could be considered a bit heavy as it deals with feelings of the world being a 'deaf machine" and being overwhelmed with life's challenges).
'The Mysteries of Harris Burdick' by Chris Van Allsburg
'Two Frogs' by Chris Wormell
'Flotsam' by David Wieser
.................. I could go on......................

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 Re: Advanced picture book recommendations
Author: Picture book fan 
Date:   05-12-11 21:57

Some wonderful suggestions here.

Ali - thank-you for your post. I agree wholeheartedly although I never could have written that so eloquently, or with such knowledge and insight. Are you a teacher? Literature professor? Dedicated parent? Loved that post. Parents, please *embrace* picture books and encourage your children to do the same. They are not books that children move on from when their reading develops - a good picture book can, and should, be enjoyed at any age.

We all love picture books. My 10yr-old EG girl has collected some from our various bookcases and put a big pile next to her bed right now; interestingly, one that you mentioned Ali, 'the princess and the pizza' is there.

I do not know as much as you Ali about picture books but one of my own personal favorites is Mem Fox's "Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge"; I think that deals nicely with the 'passage of time' and the way the wee boy helps the elderly lady 'find' her memories is delightful.

Perfectionist kids, who also like art - we are also Peter Reynolds fans.

Jye - good luck and HAVE FUN! Also check out Bruce Whatley's (or is that Colin???) "Wait, No Paint" for a quirky read.

Oh to homeschool and devote more hours in the day to picture books.

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 Re: Advanced picture book recommendations
Author: Beth 
Date:   09-12-11 21:02

Wow -I read these replies with interest and put some library requests in! I love books!

Just to add to the list - enter "Stanley, Diane" for author in AK Library catalog for a good selection of sophisticated picture books with a historical theme - eg William Shakepeare, Queen Elizabeth, Joan of Arc etc. Told in story format with fab illustrations. A screwball one which has been one of our favourites has been "Rumpelstiltkin's Daughter" - strong female lead(s), turns the fairytale on its head - less sophisticated than above but fun!

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 Re: Advanced picture book recommendations
Author: Heidi 
Date:   16-12-11 16:32

Cool thread. I love picture books too.

A few years ago Motat Auckland had a display of some of its special pop-up books. These were extremely intricate, extravagant, books; actually mechanical works of art. I'm sure you could ask one of the librarians there if you could see them, especially if you ring ahead. And if you can't make it to Auckland, they may be able to give you some references.

Cheers, Heidi

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 Re: Advanced picture book recommendations
Author: Mel stuart 
Date:   05-07-12 22:52

I have got such a lot of value from the info on this thread, thanks!

Big discovery today, the Scholastic Book Factory Shop in East Tamaki, and their 50% off sale. Wow! My 3 sons ( all gifted) went nuts! Favorite purchase of the day was the picture book "stomp" by Ruth Paul. Great dinosaur book and very simple words - but OH! The pictures! The book appealed to all 3 boys despite the age differences (6, 5 and 3 yrs) because they could all see different aspects to the glorious illustrations.

In particular, while my older boys gave detailed descriptions of the dinos, my 3 year old who is extremely sensitive to facial expressions and emotions, and relationships between "baby... Mother..father.. Brother... Sister... Biggest, littlest etc" loved the pictures because through them the story clearly spoke to a deeper level in him than one might first expect.

Please keep posting about good books for our precious kids


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 Re: Advanced picture book recommendations
Author: Javah 
Date:   31-08-12 14:36

I am a teacher and often do units around wordless/picture books as I find any learner can access them - quite refreshing as a medium to be able to reach all children no matter where they're at! Some of my most used and loved by children include:

Jeannie Baker - Window; Where The Forest Meets The Sea - Australian author, fantastic pictures, and definitely a nature theme and message with both, including the passage of time (particularly Window)
Chris Van Allsburg - The Mysteries of Harris Burdick - This is a collection of incredible pictures, each with its own story to tell or be told - endless room for imagination and provides a great starter for writing
Zoom and Rezoom have already been mentioned.
One that my daughter loved as a wee tot was "Rosie's Walk" - she would giggle and giggle at the poor fox's misadventures behind the hen.
Ooh and "Willy the Dreamer" Anthony Browne
Tuesday - David Wiesner - frogs fly on lilypads and cause havoc in town, I think there are maybe three sentences in the book - incredible drawings and most children find it very funny.
If - Sarah Perry - great pictures coupled with, for e.g. "If worms had wheels", "If kids had tails", "If music could be held" ... dream up some more.

There are so many amazing books out there! Loving everyone's suggestions too. Happy reading!

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 Re: Advanced picture book recommendations
Author: A 
Date:   31-08-12 14:47

I agree - Colin Thompson has done great ones and the intricate detail in the illustrations gives another level altogether. He also has stunning jigsaws out in the same illustration style which you could extend the book enjoyment with.
My GD also absolutely loved at that age, "Where the Forest meets the Sea" by Jennie Baker - she's done many great books using a really unique technique, again with depth, and challenging subject matter for extending discussion. She still loves those books (reading age university level).
There are good books also - check out Dorling Kindersley - where they do things like a city through time - cross sections of buildings/landscapes and how they changed over centuries.
Also if she's girly, some stunning almost pop up ones like "The Enchanted Dollshouse" by Robyn Johnson.
Graeme Base does ones with 'lots' in the pictures too... also Kit Williams books have another hidden layer where you have to work out the answer to the riddle. Quite complex, those are!
And - check out Brian Selsnick - combo of illustration and reading, done very cleverly. His Hugo Cabret book was of course made into a movie recently, but he's done others that are very clever for a more advanced child.
That's what worked for our kids anyway on 'advanced' picture books!

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 Re: Advanced picture book recommendations
Author: Alison 
Date:   01-09-12 17:28

There are some good art-related picture books for kids interested in illustrations, my daughter enjoyed "With my little eye" / paintings by Michael Smither with words by Trish Gribben.
Also poetry books for kids illustrated with great pictures: "Nonsense Verse" by Lewis Carroll (ill. by Lorna Hussey) has the great poems Jabberwocky / The Walrus and the Carpenter amongst other with illustrations. "Alligator Pie", by Dennis Lee (ill. Frank Newfeld), is a Canadian book of interesting pictures with great kids poems.
And a classic my daughter enjoyed was "Elsie Piddock Skips in her Sleep" by Eleanor Farjeon, we have an edition from 2000 illustrated by Charlotte Voake with lovely watercolour illustrations through it (recommended ages 7-11).
And for kids interested in poetry at all, then I can recommend Ted Hughes "Poems for Children" - we have a hardback version with little pencil sketches through it, and my daughter has dipped through it for a couple of years now (she's 9 now), the imagery of his poetry is very powerful and they make great bedtime readings to share, not too long :)

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