Looking for the Perfect PictureBook

Picture books are a dime a dozen these days, but really great picture books are still diamonds in the rough.

Back when I didn’t have a toddler to chase around, you could often find me spending hours in the children’s book section looking for the perfect picture books for PictureBook Plays. Books that have interesting stories with opportunities for multiple players. Books where the pictures compliment the story and tell their own story too. Books with pictures that I wouldn’t mind framing and hanging on my wall. Books with words that can be equated to great works of literature.

And although a picture book can be a quick read, the shelves are stuffed full of thousands of options and I don’t have the patience to systematically read them so I would just pull books at random. Probably not the best technique, but the most fun and I was usually rewarded with a gem by the end of my hours of reading.

Yesterday, I discovered a fantastic new site, LookyBooks. They have convinced 200 authors and illustrators to allow them to put their picture books, in full, on their site! You can browse through and actually flip through an entire book. The images are small so reading the words can be a little tricky, but it means that you can start your hunt from home if you’re strapped for time and can’t get out to the store. Or, like me, would spend my time in the store chasing my toddler up the stairs instead of reading books!

It also reminded me that The Gingerbread Man is a great story to use for PictureBook Plays (it was on the front page when I discovered LookyBooks!). Although I often end up doing The Gingerbread Man around the holiday season because of cultural connotations, it doesn’t actually make any references to a holiday.

If you use this story, make sure you set up a “track” for running around in circles when they chase the gingerbread man. Or, if you’re worried about collisions, this is the time to teach your actors about “running in place.” There can be multiple Gingerbread Children and there are many other characters to chase the Gingerbread Creations around.

I don’t love the following version. It’s too wordy for easy storytelling and the pictures tell no more story than the words.  But, there are so many versions of this folktale that you should be able to find one you like.

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://www.lookybook.com/embed/1159-embed.swf” height=”232″ width=”341″ /]

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