Drunk on truth to stupid baby power.

These Five And You’re Good #3: Maggie Tokuda-Hall

These Five And You’re Good is a series where Casey Childers asks writers to talk about the only five books you need to read your whole life. 

Maggie Tokuda-Hall has an MFA in writing from the University of San Francisco, and a scar on her thigh in the shape of a banana. Her first book, And Also an Octopus, will be published at some point in the future by Candlewick Press. She lives in San Francisco, upstairs from a Burning Man outfitter. She keeps a tumblr of book reviews in doodle and haikus here.

Remember that part in Beauty and the Beast where Gaston grabs Belle’s book and is like: “HOW YOU CAN READ THIS? THERE ARE NO PICTURES!” and all your friends laughed because Gaston is an idiot and only idiots like books with pictures? Well, fuck that. Your neck isn’t as thick as your head, and you still love a book with pictures, because you have taste, and an appreciation for visual storytelling. If you had to recommend five books with pictures, you’d suggest the five below, and then you’d never let that romantic telling of Stockholm syndrome determine your taste in books again, because you’re better than that now.


Acme Library #18 by Chris Ware: Whenever someone tries to tell me that comics aren’t really literature, I point them to Chris Ware. This one, in particular, resonated with me and demonstrates what a comic book artist can do, that a straight prose writer cannot. Weaving text and image together in intricate, often contradictory ways, Ware tells the story of a young florist who lives alone but yearns for family. On top of being visually beautiful, it’s one of the only books written by a man from a female perspective that feels 100% consistent with my own experience.


Flora and Ulysses by Katie DiCamillo: This Newbery Award winner stars a natural born cynic (Flora), and the poetry-writing, super-hero squirrel she befriends (Ulysses). DiCamillo is always masterful, but is especially so in this very slim, very silly, yet ultimately very reassuring comic novel. The use of comics is especially thoughtful here—Flora’s mother is a romance novelist, who casts aspersions on Flora’s reading choices—namely comics. Illustrated by K.G. Campbell, this book will spark sentimentality even in the least capacious heart.


The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: There are some books worth reading. And there are books worth re-reading. And then there are books worth reading again and again, and at different stages in your life, because always a new passage or section will come to life or have resonance for you in a way it didn’t before. There’s a reason hundreds of people have the illustrations from this book tattooed onto their bodies—it’s just a way to reflect the indelible effect this book has on the imagination.


Daytripper by Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá: It’s the life story of a single man, gorgeously represented by twin brother artists, Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá. Split into chapters, each passage explores an important time in the man’s life, and each ends with his potential death. It’s the kind of book you curl up with, on an afternoon when the world feels unkind and unfair, to feel existentially comforted.


The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers: It’s unclear if the father figure in this picture book is a father or grandfather or uncle or what, but it hardly matters. It’s a story about loss and curiosity, and love. I made the accident once of recommending it to someone when I worked at a bookstore, and I recommended she read it right there. She burst into tears, having just lost her father. She bought it, though. Jeffers is easily my favorite picture book author and illustrator, and this is easily his most beautiful book.


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