Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Children's Books to Look Out For with Boswellian Jannis
Welcome to my first inaugural blog post of children's book to look out for! I'm going to focus on 4 books, three brand new titles and one slightly not so new. There's no rhyme or reason to why I selected these other than I like them and I think you will too.
First up is Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons by Jon J. Muth. Jon J. Muth has written and illustrated many previous picture books, most notably Zen Shorts, Zen Ties, and Zen Ghosts. Hi, Koo! features Koo the panda and his two friends as he travels through the seasons of the year narrated by 26 haiku poems. As Muth points out in the introduction, he deviates from the traditional 5-7-5 syllable pattern of haiku poetry. He has also hidden the alphabet in every poem by capitalizing a certain word. His beautiful watercolor illustrations perfectly capture the tranquil, joyous and sometimes humorous moments that Koo shares with his two friends. The last page is a stunner with Koo sitting on a branch, his back to the reader, with a Cardinal sitting in a nest atop his head. The poem reads:
becoming so quiet
This is a wonderful introduction to not only haiku, but poetry in general, for children ages 5 and up.
Next up is What's Your Favorite Animal? by Eric Carle and Friends. Eric Carle is a rock star in the picture book world. I'm not sure there's a child that doesn't know The Very Hungry Caterpillar by heart. I know that when I used to read it in storytime, children would inevitably recite it along with me. This book is something different. Eric Carle has asked 14 well know picture book illustrators to draw their favorite animal and explain why they love them. Steven Kellogg, Nick Bruel, Mo Willems and many others have contributed. My favorite is from Peter Sis, who explains why the carp is his particular favorite. The illustration accompanying Sis's selection depicts the three wise men as kittens riding atop a very large carp with wings. It's quite funny. Nick Bruel's entry is a graphic novel style illustration with Bad Kitty (of book fame) taking over the page and making it all about himself instead of the octopus. Children will enjoy the humor found within the pages of this unique book. Eric Carle is donating all proceeds from the book to the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, a museum that introduces children to the world of art and literature in Amherst, Massachusetts.
I was an art history major as an undergraduate and am always interested in picture books that introduce children to artists. The Noisy Paint Box by Barb Rosenstock with illustrations by Mary GrandPre, is a terrific introduction to Wassily Kandinsky. Plus, the Milwaukee Art Museum is going to have a major exhibit of his art this summer. Here's my rec:
Wassily Kandinsky (nicknamed Vasya) is considered one of the first abstract painters of the 20th century. Before he achieved fame as a painter, he was a boy who loved to paint the colors he heard in his head. Although he loved to paint, he followed a career into the law, but the sounds of the colors never left. Kandinsky left the law and followed his dream as a painter and eventually went on to join the Bauhaus and form the Blue Rider group of painters. Barb Rosenstock's language and Mary GrandPre's illustrations bring Kandinsky's story alive with gorgeous sweeps of words and colors that swirl around the artist. This book makes a beautiful introduction to one of the 20th century's most fascinating artists.
Last up is The Silver Button by Bob Graham. Bob Graham has long been one of my favorite picture book authors having penned one of my favorite dog stories "Let's Get a Pup!" Said Kate. This time around the author has found beauty in the small and everyday moments of a young child's life. While Jodie is working on a drawing, her baby brother, Jonathan, starts to take his first steps. The story pulls out further into the surrounding community to other moments occurring within that exact same minute: a grandfather and his granddaughter playing in leaves, a baby being born, and a leaf from a pigeon floating down from its nest. This is a quiet and touching story. Check out some other Bob Graham titles while you’re at it: you won’t be disappointed!
Thanks for tuning in this month. I’ll be back next month with some more recommendations!