Friday, March 24, 2017

Do Pictures Tell A Story?

I love picture books, and I used to dream of filling the bookshelves with ones written and drawn by myself. As time went on, I learned how much time it takes to paint, so I narrowed my goals down to words. Then time went on.

When I had kids, I filled the bookshelves (bottom shelves so they could reach) with picture books written and drawn by somebody else. My head was still filled with stories, but my time belonged to the boys. One night my son rejected all the books I wanted to read. "Okay, I'll tell you a story," says I. But, "No," says he. "It's not a real story if it's not in a book." I bought a notebook and filled it with pictures and stories about a boy and his cat. Then they had "book week" at school. My son took the notebook to show his teacher, it went on a display stand, and it disappeared.

The pictures and the stories are still in my head. And the pictures really did tell half the story. But the kids are grown and now my picture book shelf is high on the wall filled with books just for me--and for my imaginary grandchildren I guess. There's a part of me that still feels like a small child, eager for that comfort of a different world, a well-bound world, a world with beginnings, middles and ends, and a picture for every stage. So here are some picture-world reviews. Fill a coffee mug and enjoy.

First is a picture book that satisfies the adult and the child in me. Inspired by Art the edge of revolt by Uvi Poznansky accompanies the author's definitely adult novels of the Biblical King David. But it stands alone as a beautiful picture book of famous and less famous art works, an introduction to different painting styles, and a background to the world's envisioning of the Biblical tale. The pictures may not all be "pretty," but neither's the story--as a child I would have been intrigued by its darkness without understanding of course. So... I'm not sure I'd recommend this book to children , but it's highly recommended for adults. Drink some darkly powerful five-star coffee and enjoy.

Next is another adult book (I'm saving the kids' ones till last). This is a novel I picked up because of the haunting image on its cover. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro explores memory's impact on reality through the lens of myth and legend, blending Arthurian characters with evocative history and geography, and maybe waking the sleeping giant behind relationships. The novel's as haunting as the cover, and best read over some more dark five-star coffee.

And now for children's picture books:

Clio – The Cat Who Loved To Eat by Rivka Bar-Giora is set in the very real world of a grumpy mom who doesn't want a pet, a child who does, and a street-cat who knows exactly what he wants. The pictures convey emotion and character delightfully, and a special treat is a collection of printable coloring pages for children at the end. The text is a little odd at times, but it's a fun book. Enjoy with a crisp sharp one-star coffee.

The Mouse and The Carpenter by Shabtay Benny revolves around food as well, as a mouse sets out into the world to find his own dinner, and decides to stay with a carpenter. The story offers a nice lesson in the value of compromise, and I just wish it was a little longer. Nice pastel images are pleasingly evocative. The rhythm and rhyme is smooth and unforced. And this nice short story can be easily enjoyed with a nice easy-drinking two-star coffee.

Then there's my favorite - starting and ending with the best. Princess Sophie and the Six Swans by Kim Jacobs retells a Brothers Grimm tale  with a pleasing blend of fairytale myth combined with modern day self-awareness. The princess isn't gorgeous, pampered or boring. The princes are neither fools nor heroes. The wicked stepmother's not nice, but she has reason. and the lessons of perseverance, respect and obedience are wisely drawn, as is true love. The illustrations are really amazing too! Enjoy with some well-balanced, full-flavored three-star coffee, and share it with your kids, your grandkids, or your favorite picture book bookshelf.

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