Picture Book Classics


This book is a personal favorite, and I could go on for 500 words on why it’s a classic. But I won’t. First of all, it’s about a feisty little girl who undergoes an appendectomy, a scary operation that she gets through with the help of bravery and her friends. It is told in rhyme, and the illustrations are somewhat simple but are now so distinctive to the franchise. Most of the pictures are colored with shades of yellow, black, and grey, but the ones that have more colors are lush and take you right into her world. In my opinion, Madeline’s plot and rhyming verse makes it a great book, but it’s the illustrations that make it a classic.

The Little Engine That Could 

This book is iconic for the Little Blue Engine’s mantra “I think I can, I think I can…” and the message of perseverance that it conveys. As Vardell states, “We want to share stories that have meaning to children, but we want that meaning to emerge naturally out of the characters and actions, and not be imposed as a sermon or moral,” (p. 60). This book is a classic because even though it has this strong message, it’s still a book that children can enjoy. It has complementary illustrations and a repetitive pattern throughout the story. It also contains a lot of dialogue between the toys, the clown, and the other trains.


Bemelmans, L. (1939). Madeline. NY: Simon & Schuster.

Piper, W. (1939) The little engine that could. NY: Platt & Monk Co.

Vardell, S. (2014). Children’s literature in action: A librarian’s guide (Second ed.). Westport, Conn.: Libraries Unlimited.


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