I came across an interesting paradox the other day as I browsed the new picture books. While I’m trying to put together a very visually stimulating, graphically appealing, bright and vibrant website–the newest and some of the most popular picture books hitting the shelves are have simple, clean and rather muted drawings.

The two books that brought this to mind are

Not a Stick
Antoinette Portis


Don’t Worry Bear
Greg Foley

But, as my coworker pointed out, this might be a trend we saw started by the overwhelming popularity of Mo Willem’s Pigeon Books. Here we are seeing a movement towards children’s books that are a little less glossy, a little less assault on the senses. They make for good storytime fodder — combining simple illustrations with good writing. The children can focus on the reader and the words without quite so much distraction. And our circulation numbers suggest the kids enjoy taking the books home too.

This trend demonstrates to me that we as adults and we with our children can and do still enjoy simple. And perhaps that is why many of us still read. Reading books usually comes down to black, white, words, text, pages, and simple paper. Certainly my trashy romance novel has a glossy cover of a barely dressed wench and a hunky and almost always topless male–but within the pages there is just me and the characters and usually, in my mind, the characters look nothing like the cover models. (Any resemblance to movie stars or gorgeous people I know or might have a crush on is purely coincidental.)

But I did find it encouraging that amongst the glut of shiny, bright, sparkly, moving, frantic and NOW–to see simple, beautiful, and screaming pigeons making the bestsellers lists.