When style, voice, and tone suit the subject matter—magic happens. These five picture books are proof.
Birdsong by Julie Flett is about navigating change, facing loneliness, and finding an unlikely friend. Written in the first person and structured around the four seasons, each page feels like a meditation. The language invites you to be still, listen, breathe, observe, and open your heart to the protagonist's journey.
Swan by Laurel Snyder; illustrated by Julie Morstad, is a biography of Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova. Snyder’s story unfurls like a swan’s feathers, moving from quiet and spare to sweeping and lyrical. Each word is perfectly en pointe.
The delightfully droll delivery in Lucy Ruth Cummins’s A Hungry Lion or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals gets readers roaring every time. As the text dwindles along with the animals, humor and tension are heightened to wickedly delicious ends.
Marvelous Cornelius by Phil Bildner; illustrated by John Parra is a master class in word choice and pacing. Using repetition, alliteration, and exaggeration—Bildner draws on folktale traditions to paint a dazzling portrait of modern-day folk hero Cornelius Washington, a beloved trash collector in New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal is a warm conversation between a little girl and her father. The characters’ voices are resonant and true. Martinez-Neal lights a candle with her words and evokes a feeling of going back through time with little Alma.
anikadenise.com. is the author of many celebrated books for young readers including You can find her at home in Rhode Island thinking up new story ideas and on the web at