Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What will tomorrow's children's books look like?

We had cloth books when we were babies, card books as we grew older, and "real paper" books when we finally learned to read. Actually, my brothers graduated to real paper books pretty early. I was a slow learner and just told and retold stories until the headmistress threatened me with a microphone. Then I learned to read, and have scarcely stopped to draw breath since. But what about our kids?

My sons had plastic books when they were babies, card books as they grew older, and real paper books when they finally learned to read. If I remember rightly, one of them went straight from card to Harry Potter. Perhaps that was his incentive, just like the microphone was mine. But about grandkids (not that I have any)?

A new generation will grow up with computers - computer babysitters with bright noises, computer stories with baby-talk and toys, then, maybe, their own personal ereader when they learn to read? Perhaps?

One of the picture books I read this week feels like a very cool technological jump that keeps its roots firmly in good storytelling and reading for fun. There are "stamps" letting readers interactively "jump" to extra information (and back again). There are links so those so permitted by their parents might email the author. And there's even a rather cool music video (with a dog!). But none of it gets in the way of a thoroughly enjoyable story with laugh-out-loud family antics and a pleasing conclusion where a dog finds a home. I love this book--Bear with Bear by Hagit Oron. Enjoy on a nearby computer with happy child (or with the child inside you) and drink a well-balanced, full-flavored three star coffee.

Werner Stejskal always invites emails from his readers too in his Oliver and Jumpy stories. The series is finally coming to an end, and I read the last two books recently, stories 55-57, and stories 58-62. As befits a long-running picture book series, the last book acknowledges a child's increasing reading skills by offering more words per picture. Sillandia really comes to life in a way it didn't quite for me before, so I enjoyed this final volume best. Plus it's got a story for Christmas! Enjoy with some easy-drinking two-star coffee.

Another Christmas story with a very modern twist is Dreaming of a Green Christmas by Anne Zoet. Computers allow young Darryl to interact with his Brazilian friend Burrball (a sloth) and inspire him to wonder how Christmas could be combined with saving the trees. The result is a bright picture book with smooth-reading rhythm and rhyme, cool suggestions for kids' activities leading up to Christmas, and an enjoyable environmental message. A good book to enjoy with some more easy-drinking two-star coffee.

And then there's The Unusualasauruses: 15 playful dinosaurs by Efrat Shoham, a book with very cool pictures, very unpronouncalbe dinosaur names, and lots of fun, best enjoyed with some mild, crisp one-star coffee.

But I still think future children's picture books will look more like Bear with Bear than anything else.

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