Chapter books and picture books

Last summer, my assistant Ezra said: “Are you going to the bookstore at lunch today? Because I want to go with you.”

“Why?” I said. “You want a book? I can pick it up for you.”

“No,” he said with certainty. “It’s the new Game of Thrones book. It’s the first one in six years. I want to buy it myself.”

So we went to the (now defunct) Borders Bookstore, and I turned him loose.

He was immensely happy, and I left him alone with his prize. I wandered off to the “graphic novel” section, and browsed for a few minutes, and rejoined him shortly with a big black-and-white Superman anthology. “What’s that?” he said suspiciously.

“It’s an anthology of some comic books from my childhood,” I said happily.

He looked down on me (seriously: he was at least five inches taller than me) with disdain.

He was buying a chapter book and I was buying a picture book.

Well, so what? I love my picture books. Some of them remind me of my childhood, which is reason enough. Some are artistic / beautiful, which is reason enough again. Some are profound and moving (like “Maus”). Some are just for fun, like my comic anthologies, or my volumes ofLynda Barry and George Herriman and Edward Gorey.

To quote Charles Dodgson (from – surprise! – a chapter book!):

 “Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?’”

Amen, sister.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

3 Responses to Chapter books and picture books

  1. starproms says:

    I still buy and collect Rupert the Bear annuals. I loved them when I was a child growing up in the 1950’s. The stories are very good and the artwork by Alfred Bestall (at that time) is brilliant. I was and am transported to another world and I love it. Nothing wrong with living in another world is there.
    One of my sons is a fan of Game of Thrones and the other books by George Martin (I think it is).

    • I still love them all. I take great comfort in them. I learned to read, really, from a little Donald Duck book that I still have, and I owe picture books a great debt.

      • starproms says:

        How lovely that you still have those books. Some of my favourite books live on in my memory. I would love to see them and touch them again. I think that must be why there is such a big market for old books on Ebay, don’t you?

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