Showing posts with label Picture Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Picture Books. Show all posts

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Read This Article

I'm a day (or two or three) behind in my reading of the New York Times and so it wasn't until this morning that I happened upon this article in yesterday's paper.  In it, a a father writes about how he is packing up his now-teenagers' picture books.  But it's much more than that.  It's about how packing up picture books is a way of saying good-bye to your children's childhoods, it's an elegy for Eden Ross Lipson, the late New York Times Book Review's children book editor, it's a review of several picture books, only one of which I've ever heard of, it's a discussion of how to match a child to a book.  I'm going to put every book he recommends at the library on hold immediately, and not think about the day when it might be time for me to pack up my children's picture books.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Baby Jealousy With a Twist

There are scads and scads of picture books about new baby jealousy.  A Baby Sister for FrancesJulius, the Baby of the WorldPeter's Chair, and When the New Baby Comes, I'm Moving Out come immediately to mind.  And there are tons of others, with good reason.  The entry of a new baby into a family is an event with dramatic and lifelong consequences for the until-then only (or youngest) child.

However, there's a subgenre of picture books about pets jealous of a new baby.  And one of them was written by none other than Madeline L'Engle and illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, Christine Davenier!  Even among this subgenre, though, L'Engle's book has a twist.  The dog at issue believes the new baby is also a dog, simply one of an inferior breed, one which is not house-trained and which gets to be carried everywhere.  While the aptly named The Other Dog is not of the same quality of L'Engle's other works, it is worth seeking out by dog lovers, parents of older-siblings-to-be, and picture-book-collectors.

Other picture books about pets jealous of a new baby include Bittle and McDuff and the Baby.  Do you know of any others?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Library Loot #18, Part 1

With the kids on break, we had to make sure they - and I-  had enough reading material.  We have so many books our from the library right now that I decided to split this post up into three parts - picture books, chapter books, and books for me. 

Picture books:

Up close:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

(Gentle) Sarcasm in a Picture Book

How do pictures and words interact in a picture book?  In some, like The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by Marla Frazee, there are details in the illustrations which are never mentioned in the text.  In A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, another Marla Frazee work (this time she is both the author and the illustrator) the pictures and text work together to produce sarcasm and humor perfect for children ages 5-7 (and their parents). 

James and Eamon go to stay with Eamon's grandparents for a week so they can attend a nature camp nearby.  As Eamon waits for James's arrival, his grandpa Bill extols the virtues of nature.  "Eamon thought this chat was fascinating," says the text.  The accompanying illustration, however, tells us us quite the opposite.  The fact that "James was very sad when his mother drove away" is belied by the picture of James happily waving and shouting bye to his mom.  And so on, much to the amusement of the reader. 

Just like a toddler who finds the box the present came in more interesting than the gift itself, James and Eamon find much more pleasure in each other's company than in nature camp.  In this story of friendship, the fruits of boredom and how children truly can amuse and educate themselves, the gently sarcastic interplay between the illustrations and the text is the icing on the cake.

What is your favorite example of how the words and text in a picture book complement each other?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Mom with a Hobby

In most, if not all, of the books my kids and I have read, the mothers are primarily or solely caregivers.  Yes, in the Ramona series Mrs. Quimby gets a part-time and then full-time job (is "liberated!" as her daughter Beezus says), but, although she seems to enjoy her work well enough, she does it out of economic necessity.  In picture book after picture book, the moms give hugs and kisses, prepare meals, put children to bed, and tend to all the other daily minutiae of childcare, but do not seem to be doing anything sheerly for their own pleasure. 

Enter Mrs. Peter, the cello-playing harried mother of seven in The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman and illustrated by my new favorite Marla Frazee.  Although the story is, as the title says, silly - the seven children each eat only one item - and their mother is a total pushover, the clever rhymes and the delightful illustrations make it utterly enjoyable.  As the family grows, the mom still manages to find time for her passion.  Even as one of the kids dumps oatmeal on the cat (which always makes me think of the song from The Fantasticks which laments, "Why did the kids put jam on the cat?  Strawberry jam all over the cat?  Why would the kids do something like that?  They did it 'cause we said no!"), Mrs. Peters does not get up from her cello but yells at the offender across the room.  Although the cello disappears from the illustrations midway through the story as Mrs. Peters is overwhelmed by her household, in the end, she takes it up again.  

Of note (pun intended) is the fact that the cello is never mentioned in the text - we only see it in those charming illustrations.  Whose idea was it, I wondered, to include the cello?  The author's or the illustrator's? 

So I emailed Ms. Frazee, who graciously wrote back within hours.  Apparently, I was not the first person with these questions.  Linda Urban had previously "interviewed" Ms. Frazee by email and reprinted the conversation, which included this topic, on her blog, Crooked Perfect (full links included below).  Ms. Frazee gave exactly the answer I was hoping for: she put the cello in because she thought the mom needed to be defined by something other than her status as a mother alone.  And for that, I, for one, am grateful.

Can you think of any other picture books or early chapter books where the mother has a hobby, a passion, an interest besides her children?

Here are the links to the full conversation.  The last link is the one that discusses  The Seven Silly Eaters specifically, while the others talk more generally about the process of illustrating picture books, including the collaboration with the author and editor and about what makes a book a picture book.  I highly recommend the entire series.  Enjoy!