Whenever I do a school visit, kids ask me what my favorite books are. I usually rattle off a couple of titles in which I get returned blank and disappointed stares. With every unknown book I say, their disapproval grows until I finally give them what they want and say, "Harry Potter!" Then all is well again in the world and the visit is saved!
So,just for kicks, I'll give you my quick list:
The Lion and the Red Bird: my all-time favorite picture book. One of those books I wish I had created. Elisa Kleven is wonderful! Her art, how she creates worlds with so many little details really influenced a lot of my art, perhaps most notably the images in Fortune Cookie Fortunes
Tales of a Gambling Grandmother: also an amazing book. This book really showed me how you could create something fiercely meaningful and personal, yet still be universal to an audience. My inspiration for The Ugly Vegetables. Hey, I just found out this book is still in print, after all--in paperback!
Luka's Quilt: A multi-cultural book whose "multi-culturalism" disappears with the touching and warm story. Something I strive for in all my work.
Estelle and Lucy: This book is so beautifully written. The words are so spare, that you almost don't notice the artistry of it. This book showed me how powerful just a few words can be, it was actually the inspiration of the style of which I wrote Dim Sum For Everyone!
The Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson: This book I did NOT read before writing Year of the Dog; and I am very glad I didn't. I would have just acquiesced to its sheer brilliance and superiority and not made the attempt. It's a great book--touching, hilarious, heart-warming and honest. All that I want my books to be!
Okay, and I DO like Harry Potter! Okay? Am I cool again?