My review-list led me to a cool collection of kids' books this week. Though I hadn't expected it, they were all illustrated. So I wrote my reviews, each with that nice easy title "This book by this author" and suddenly realized "This book by this author illustrated by this artist" would be more accurate. I guess as a kid, I rather liked words more than pictures - perhaps that's because so many picture books were just black and white. I remember part of my delight in moving up to the "grown-up books" section in our local library was that the lack of pictures gave more space for a story to be told. But I love to draw, and now I delight in those images I used to skip over. I smile at pictures that remind me of books from my childhood (though now they're in color and filled with fascinating detail rather than ice-queen gray and frowns). I delight in pictures that transport me to a different culture and teach me of a world I never knew. And I laugh at pictures designed to change my mood.
So now it's time to post those reviews. I'll do my best to remember the illustrators. Coffee will help.
First is a picture book for older kids, older boys to be precise. Johnny Nothing by Ian Probert is illustrated by author. It's a very teen-boy novel with deep irreverence and a persistent fascination for bodily functions, noises, smells, etc. The illustrations are pleasingly dark. The names (Johnny Nothing, Ebenezer Dark, etc) are pleasingly descriptive. And the storyline has plenty of twists and turns - even the occasional touch of wisdom. Enjoy with a dark five-star cup of coffee.
A Cat Named Mouse by Patti Tingen illustrated by Mary Erikson Washam is a more traditional picture book, written for small children, illustrated with colorful images of cats, mice, dogs and more. The images illustrate the action beautifully, and the storyline is simple and fun, deals nicely with the problem of teasing, and reads smoothly. Enjoy with some smooth well-balanced three-star coffee.
Whispers of the Wolf by Pauline Ts’o illustrated by Rosemary Lonewolf is a deceptively simply story about a boy and his dog. But the boy lives in a lovingly imagined, well-researched and gorgeously illustrated Pueblo Indian world of 500 years ago. The dog is a wolf. And lonely child and dog will grow together to take their places in society. The illustrations fit the story beautifully, including minimal but beautifully chosen details that fill out to make the world real. Enjoy with some rich elegant four-star coffee.
Princess Rosie’s Rainbow by Bette Killion illustrated by Kim Jacobs has the feel of a good old-fashioned fairytale while being wholly new and intriguing. The illustrations are filled with fascinating detail to keep any child occupied for hours. The story's fun. And the bonus science lesson is a really cool touch. Enjoy with some well-balanced three-star coffee.
And now to return to reading and writing... I hope to post a review of Ursula LeGuin's Steering the Craft soon - a great book for writers!