Reading Challenge: A to Z Children’s Picture Book Series Challenge

27 Dec

In 2011, I started my “A to Z Children’s Picture Book Series Challenge.” Basically, the goal was to read 26 children’s picture book series by authors whose last names each began with a different letter of the alphabet. Other criteria were:
-Minimum of 3 books
-Only the author’s original work
-Can be early reader editions but not board books

While I wasn’t successful in completing the challenge that year, I decided to carry it over to 2012– and 2013!- since it was great fun discovering new and classic characters.

I wasn’t able to find authors for Q and X, not surprisingly enough, but that just taught me to do a little bit of research before doing a challenge like this. I’m considering this challenge complete!

(I’ve included a list of the series and authors I’ve read so far with brief comments on some of them. I also included any omnibus editions that collected all the books I’ve read in case any of you wanted to read them.)

Alexander, Martha
Blackboard Bear * And My Mean Old Mother Will Be Sorry, Blackboard Bear * I Sure Am Glad to See You, Blackboard Bear * We’re in Big Trouble, Blackboard Bear * I’ll Never Share You, Blackboard Bear * You’re a Genius, Blackboard Bear
Sweet and simple stories with outrageously questionable, loose morals, very reminiscent of the “Harold and the Purple Crayon” books. Nice illustrations.

Bemelmans, Ludwig- Mad About Madeline
Madeline * Madeline’s Rescue * Madeline and the Bad Hat * Madeline and the Gypsies * Madeline in London * Madeline’s Christmas
I don’t understand how Madeline is so special for her to be the star of her own series. I guess it’s because her name is easier for the rhyme scheme?

Brunhoff, Jean De- Bonjour, Babar!: The Six Unabridged Classics by the Creator of Babar
The Story of Babar * The Travels of Babar * Babar the King * Babar and Zephir * Babar and His Children * Babar and Father Christmas
While not particularly impressed with either Madeline or Babar, I love how their creators paid attention to details allowing continuity. Callbacks to previous adventures are always a plus. I can’t believe how much child endangerment there were in these books. Some of the plots didn’t seem kid-friendly at all. Times were indeed very different back then!

Cronin, Doreen- A Barnyard Collection: Click, Clack, Moo and More
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type * Giggle, Giggle, Quack * Dooby, Dooby Moo
These books were surprisingly not funny. I had seen Doreen Cronin talk about writing for children and thought she was a riot. It seems humor is hard to transfer to paper sometimes. I know I have that problem.

Dewdney, Anna
Llama Llama Red Pajama * Llama Llama Mad at Mama * Llama Llama Misses Mama * Llama Llama Holiday Drama * Llama Llama Home with Mama * Llama Llama Time to Share * Llama Llama and the Bully Goat
This series was a great find. Llama Llama and his Mama’s relationship is quite endearing.

Egan, Tim
Dodsworth in New York * Dodsworth in Paris * Dodsworth in London * Dodsworth in Rome * Dodsworth in Tokyo
I love the serialized aspects of these books. Sometimes the duck gets on my nerve but he is a likable character when he’s not purposely trying to be difficult. Kids will enjoy how the different personalities play off one another.

Falconer, Ian
Olivia * Olivia Saves the Circus * Olivia… and the Missing Toy * Olivia Forms a Band * Olivia Helps with Christmas * Olivia Goes to Venice * Olivia and the Fairy Princesses
Olivia is such a great character! I think readers can enjoy her adventures and perhaps learn a little something along the way.

Gay, Marie-Louise- Stella!: A Treasury
When Stella was Very, Very Small * Stella, Fairy of the Forest * Stella, Star of the Sea * Stella, Princess of the Sky * Stella, Queen of the Snow * Read Me a Story, Stella
I was impressed by the strong relationship between sister and brother. Stella and Sam really came alive with the stories and illustrations. Fun, whimsical.

Hoban, Russell
Bedtime for Frances * A Baby Sister for Frances * Bread and Jam for Frances * A Birthday for Frances *Best Friends for Frances * A Bargain for Frances
A charming collection of books. Frances reminds me a lot of Winnie-the-Pooh with their appetites and penchant for song.

Impey, Rose
Wanda Witch and the Bullies * Wanda Witch and the Wobbly Fang * Wanda Witch and Too Many Frogs * Wanda Witch and the Stray Dragon
There are so many things wrong with this series. Not all books have to teach a lesson, of course, but this one seemed to be trying to do so but failed either by not providing one or teaching the wrong lesson. It also seemed the US publication of the books were out of order.

Johnson, Crockett
Harold and the Purple Crayon * Harold’s Fairy Tale * Harold’s Trip to the Sky * Harold at the North Pole * Harold’s Circus *A Picture for Harold’s Room * Harold’s ABC
Children’s literature is populated with wonderful characters. Case in point: Crockett Johnson’s Harold of the purple crayon fame! I just couldn’t get enough of the stories.

Kotzwinkle, William and Murray, Glenn
Walter the Farting Dog * Walter the Farting Dog: Trouble at the Yard Sale * Rough Weather Ahead for Walter the Farting Dog * Walter the Farting Dog Goes On a Cruise * Walter the Farting Dog: Banned from the Beach
I have to admit it. I found these books to be hilarious. I can see why they would appeal to kids. I think the illustrations are horrific, though.

Lobel, Arnold- Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury
Frog and Toad Are Friends * Frog and Toad Together * Frog and Toad All Year * Days with Frog and Toad
Frog and Toad are great and timeless examples of what true friendship is all about!

Marshall, James- George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends
George and Martha * George and Martha Encore * George and Martha Rise and Shine * George and Martha One Fine Day * George and Martha Tons of Fun * George and Martha Back in Town * George and Martha Round and Round
Another example of BFF-ness, it’s no wonder that readers of all ages can still find something relatable with these two after all these years!

Muth, Jon J.
Zen Shorts * Zen Ties * Zen Ghosts
I like how the concept of these books is so different from what others out there- a great introduction to Zen. This was recommended to me by a children’s bookstore owner.

Numeroff, Laura
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie * If You Give a Mouse a Muffin * If You Give a Pig a Pancake * If You Take a Mouse to the Movies * If You Take a Mouse to School * If You Give a Pig a Party * If You Give a Cat a Cupcake * If You Give a Dog a Donut
These books make great gifts! Kids will enjoy the causation of each action.

O’Connor, Jane
Fancy Nancy * Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy * Fancy Nancy: Bonjour Butterfly * Fancy Nancy and the Splendiferous Christmas * Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique *Fancy Nancy and the Mermaid Ballet * Fancy Nancy: Fanciest Doll in the Universe
These are books that I always see other buy as gifts. After reading them, I can understand the appeal- a quirky character who gets into fun scrapes with a strong support system of family and friends.

Parish, Herman
Amelia Bedelia’s First Day of School * Amelia Bedelia’s First Apple Pie * Amelia Bedelia’s First Field Trip * Amelia Bedelia’s First Valentine * Amelia Bedelia’s First Vote * Amelia Bedelia’s First Library Card
Created by Peggy Parish, Amelia Bedelia was a character I remembered reading from my childhood. I was hesitant to read this new series by her nephew. In fact, I hated it the first time I read the two books in the series. But, after rereading, I actually enjoy them.

Rey, H.A. and Margret Rey- The Complete Adventures of Curious George
Curious George * Curious George Takes a Job * Curious George Rides a Bike * Curious George Gets a Medal * Curious George Flies a Kite * Curious George Learns the Alphabet * Curious George Goes to the Hospital
I can’t believe anyone likes Curious George. Even as a children’s books, it’s nonsensical and not in a good way.

Shannon, David
No, David! * David Goes to School * David Gets in Trouble * It’s Christmas, David!
Who knew something written when someone was five years old can turn into such a mega popular series? The illustrations are absolutely unique.

Thompson, Kay- Eloise: The Ultimate Edition
Eloise * Eloise in Paris * Eloise at Christmastime * Eloise in Moscow
While the stories are interesting enough, these books are rather long compared to modern picture book standards. And the rich kid schtick gets tiring after awhile.

Urbanovic, Jackie
Duck at the Door * Duck Soup * Duck and Cover * Sitting Duck
The main character (Max) was not fleshed out enough for me to understand why others would care about him. If it weren’t for my reading challenge, I wouldn’t have read the other books in the series.

Viorst, Judith
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day * Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday * Alexander, Who’s Not (Do You Hear Me? I Mean It!) Going to Move
Judith Viorst wrote a great series of 3 books featuring Alexander- a boy who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Great fun! And, I love long titles.

Willems, Mo- (Elephant & Piggie)
There is a Bird On Your Head! * I Am Invited to a Party! * My Friend is Sad * I Will Surprise My Friend! * Today I Will Fly! * I Love My New Toy! * Are You Ready to Play Outside? * Watch Me Throw the Ball! * Elephants Cannot Dance! * Pigs Make Me Sneeze! * I Am Going! * Can I Play Too? * We Are In a Book! * I Broke My Trunk! * Should I Share My Ice Cream? * Happy Pig Day! * Listen to My Trumpet! * Let’s Go for a Drive! * A Big Guy Took My Ball! * I’m a Frog!
This series is fun for kids just starting to read- so full of life and character. With its simple illustrations and stories, Mo Willems created such a fantastic duo with Elephant and Pig. The consistency and attention to detail even on the end papers is a real treat.

Yolen, Jane
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? * How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? * How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? * How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? * How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? * How Do Dinosaurs Say Merry Christmas? * How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah? * How Do Dinosaurs Say I’m Mad?
I think these books celebrate the uniqueness of our situations and actions. Of course, on a more basic level, readers can just enjoy them as entertaining stories.

Zion, Gene
Harry the Dirty Dog * No Roses for Harry! * Harry by the Sea * Harry and the Lady Next Door
This series has been a wonderful discovery. I love Harry and I can’t wait to recommend him to our customers.


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