A small town (Itching Down) is infested by wasps, to the point that folks can’t deal. The townspeople have a meeting, where it’s decided that they will build an enormous, field-sized jam sandwich, to trap all the wasps. Watching them do this, page after page… I can still feel the child excitement. They turn a swimming pool into a mixing bowl. They turn the town’s biggest building into a giant brick oven. The pictures are bright but also detailed and subtle. If your kid loves books, it’s a minor crime not to read him/her this one.
Shaggy Fur Face by Virgil Franklin Partch
A dog has a good master–and mistress, a little girl–but they’re poor, and they can’t keep him. They sell him, for the cost of “ditch-digging britches,” to another man, who seems nice at first, but turns out to be a tyrant. That’s when you get the story: of Shaggy Fur Face’s escape from the new mean master, and his return to the old nice family (who are doing better financially, thank you). The line I’ve had in my head for 35 years now, that sustains me sometimes, is, “And he kept paddling south. And he kept paddling south.”
Billy’s Balloon Ride by R. Zimnik
A boy is sick. His friends and relatives keep bringing him balloons, which his mother ties to his bed. Finally one night, there are so many balloons, he floats off into the sky. Great, gently suspenseful storytelling. Strange, haunting, somehow German-looking illustrations. The boy has a chubby red face and glasses. I’ll never forget him. Haven’t seen this book since my own actual childhood but could, if I knew how to draw, recreate it page for page.
Lamont the Lonely Monster by Dean Walley and Don Page
Lamont is sad. He has no friends. He’s too freaky looking. And so he searches for buddies. But in a twist that turns on its head the whole crap Nick, Jr. narrative of “Just act nice and normal, and you’ll be popular and happy!!”, Lamont’s soulmate turns out to be… an even scarier monster! Who’s named, in a delightful Dickens nod, Uriah the Heap. Read your kids this book, and then when they’re a little older, read them David Copperfield. Great way to teach them what “allusion” means.