Written By: Mary Murphy
Illustrated by: Zhu Cheng-Liang
For Ages: 3 years and up
Topics Covered: Social-Emotional Learning, Growing Up, Gratitude, Family, Memories.
What I Like Most is an adorable book with a narrator trying to describe her favorite thing, but continues to make exceptions for other favorite objects. Apricot jam, the river, colorful sneakers, it’s hard to choose a favorite thing!
This book is just really sweet, and a lot of the objects can be connected to intangible things like friendship and family. It also exemplifies that gratitude can be practiced about even the smallest of objects, like a red pencil. The wording is lyrical and filled with descriptions that conjured up my own memories about what I loved about the river or a favorite book series. This would be such a fun story to read at the beginning of a school year to have discussions with students about their own favorite things, as a way to get to know each other! Being able to reflect on the things that make your own life happy is a wonderful skill, as is the ability to word it so eloquently as to inspire others to reflect as well, something that author Mary Murphy has done wonderfully.
This book was kindly sent by Candlewick Press, but all opinions are my own.
Mary Murphy writes and illustrates children’s books. She lives in Dublin, Ireland, with two dogs, Honey and Alfie.
Mary has always loved reading, and writing, and drawing. So it wasn’t surprising that, way back in 1996, she sent some ideas to publishers in the U.K., and asked them if they would like to make one of her ideas into a book. Mary was delighted when they said yes!
Mary’s first book, ‘I Like it When…’ was published by Egmont Books in 1997. Since then she has written and illustrated about 45 books, with about seven different publishers. Most of her books are for babies and toddlers. Recent books are ‘What I Like Most’, published by Walker Books UK in 2019, and ‘Only a Tree Knows How to be a Tree’, published by Otter Barry Books.
ZHU CHENGLIANG was born in Shanghai in 1948 with an innate talent and interest in painting. Later in his life, he was enrolled in Nanjing University of the Arts, majoring in oil painting. Over forty years of creation and illustration, Zhu has provided the children in China with more than fifty excellent picture books.
His painting style tends to be simple and full of the fun of childhood. Zhu incorporates Chinese characteristics into his illustrations—such as traditional New Year painting and wood-engraving style in The Story of the Kitchen God, clay figures in All in a Day, water color in Flame. Zhu’s chameleon-like visual style as such can conjure up an immediate response in young readers. To him, it is very important to blend a good story with varied painting skills so as to delight young children aesthetically and ethically. Currently, he is still chasing innovative ideas of a picture book. His latest illustration in Mr. and Mrs. Candy’s Trip witnesses his transformation from traditional Chinese painting and his further exploration of art. In this picture book, he uses pencils to sketch realistic details, but with restrained and dreamlike qualities. Overall, these creative practices are born from the aesthetic emotion and the relentless artistic pursuit of the painter.