Eric Carle asked a handful of children’s illustrators a question: What’s Your Favorite Animal? The answers are creative jewels by 14 beloved artists, including Mo Willems, Rosemary Wells, Lane Smith and Jon Klassen. Children and adults alike will enjoy the varied responses, each on a two-page spread, including anecdotes, childhood memories and more—all with illustrations, of course.

For example, Nick Bruel, creator of the wonderful Bad Kitty books, begins seriously, with an intriguing pictorial essay titled, “Behold the Octopus,” about the marvels of these eight-legged creatures. Bad Kitty quickly intervenes, outraged at being left out, and the resulting interchange between the wide-eyed feline and his creator is hilarious.

Peter Sís recalls growing up in the Czech Republic, where residents traditionally eat carp on Christmas Eve. Sís describes people buying live carp from barrels in the street, then putting them in their bathtubs to keep them fresh. Often, he says, children become attached to these new “pets.” Sís explains: “You would see many families coming with their carps to the river and blue fish swimming toward the ocean. This gave us all hope! So my favorite creature of hope is the blue carp.”

Carle writes about his cat Fiffi’s treasured string bean (of all things). Susan Jeffers recalls her childhood dreams of white horses, while Steven Kellogg tells of wallpapering his room with drawings of cows.

What’s Your Favorite Animal? is a great way to explore a variety of children’s illustrators (short bios are included). Extend the enjoyment by grabbing several books by each of these artists, and you’ll be ready for a lengthy session of excellent children’s literature.

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