{illustrator} Molly Idle

30 DAYS OF PB 2013 aI occasionally share an illustrator who has caught my eye. See the above “book list,” bottom of the page for other illustrators highlighted on this blog. For ’30 Days of Picture Books’ which is to celebrate Picture Book Month, “Day Nine” features two books and an Illustrator’s Spotlight!

Day Nine: Tea Rex AND Flora and the Flamingo

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“Idleness is not doing nothing. Idleness is being free to do anything.”–Floyd Dell- American writer 1887/1969 (as found upon opening Molly Idle’s website)

Molly Idle can be found on the web at Idleillustration.com where she links a “Portfolio,” her “Books,” “Contact” info, and her blog Wackiness Ensues…. According to said website (under “About”), Molly Idle may otherwise be found “in Arizona with her brilliant husband, two wonderfully mischievous sons, and two snugly cats. When not making mischief with her boys or watching old Technicolor musicals, she can be found at her desk scribbling away, with a pencil in one hand and a cup of espresso in the other- creating a plethora of profoundly whimsical picture books!”

I will be sharing three out of the plethora. I may have to support my local Library with more than only the three I could find. I’m really excited to share this Illustrator-Author with you –that is, if you haven’t the pleasure.

Further mining of her “About” page: 

molly idle photoMolly Idle has been drawing ever since she could wield a pencil. But while she started scribbling before she could walk, her professional career as an artist began slightly later…

It was upon her graduation from Arizona State University, with a BFA in Drawing, that Molly accepted an offer to work for DreamWorks Feature Animation Studios.  After five years, a number of film credits, and an incredibly good time, she left the studio and leapt with gusto into the world of children’s book illustration!

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{from Robert Louis Stevenson’s My Shadow (Child’s World, 2011)}

Charming is the word that I keep arriving at with the picture books Molly Idle has illustrated. There is that “profound whimsy,” the gentle humor. The color palettes are irresistible; the light/shadow; the curve, extension, and attitude of lines and, in turn, her characters and sets. Her books are warm and funny, drawing short of cloying to balance them perfectly upon that appealing edge that is charming.

When you have another moment or two, Check out “7 Questions over Breakfast with Molly Idle” at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast wherein we learn (among many other things) that she works “work with Prismacolor pencils. Only pencils. I don’t paint,” and her favorite word is “infamous.” It is an especially good interview.

So…I want to share two books today, and the third tomorrow. You’re welcome.

TeaREX_CVRcomp-833x1024Tea Rex by Molly Idle; Viking (Penguin) 2013.

Some tea parties are for grown-ups.
Some are for girls.
But this tea party is for a very special guest.
And it is important to follow some rules . . .
like providing comfortable chairs,
and good conversation,
and yummy food.
But sometimes that is not enough for special guests,
especially when their manners are more Cretaceous than gracious . . . (jacket copy)

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Tea Rex reads like a conduct book, an instructional piece for how to have guests for tea. While the knowledgeable instructor (I heard the voice of Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins), the illustrations offer a hilarious backdrop to the text; “a good host meets these little challenges with a cheerful smile…” The illustrations and text work so perfectly together, the prim and proper tone ever threatening to break under the—er—challenges of having T-Rex as your guest for tea.

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tearex

As Kirkus Reviews writes, “Idle’s smallest details are where the true pleasure lies, as when the hostess bores her guests with talk of begonias, and the T-Rex surreptitiously checks the watch on his tiny little wrist.” Note, too, the brother/boy character; please do not gender this humorous picture book…and be sure to serve tea, snacks, and provide spoons to balance on your nose.

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flora cover

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle ; Chronicle Books, 2013

Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. (publisher’s comments)

No one told me Flora and the Flamingo had flaps to lower! They probably didn’t think my heart could stand it: the illustrations floating around the kidlitosphere are already just so damn pretty.

I should let the images speak for themselves, as Molly Idle does in her picture book; the line work and the warm pink, the eloquence in form and expression. I do have to add that the choosing a flamingo over, say, a swan was a marvelous decision, as are those delicate blossoms framing the white-page theater of the performance. I love this one, it’s so elegant and smart.

flora03._V376486691_If you want to give the gift of beauty this holiday season…

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Of note…this would be fun to translate into a short performance piece between a grown or older dancer and a young student.

Kirkus Reviews reviews this picture book rather nicely, despite the cringe-worthy-moment of “dumpily clad.” ….&…. The Horn Book‘s Elissa Gershowitz reviews, wherein she writes: “The book is cinematic, comedic, and balletic, with remarkable dynamic pacing facilitated by those ingenious flaps. Spare illustrations in a limited palette, mostly tutu-pinks with pops of yellow on pristine white pages, allow the characters’ physical and emotional chemistry — and the book’s physical comedy — to take center stage.” ….&…. Elizabeth Bird at School Library Journal says, “Flora and the Flamingo is notable because it is a perfect amalgamation of wordless storytelling, likable (or at least understandable) characters, and an artistic sensibility that will make you forget its unique formatting and remind you only of the classic picture book days of yore.”

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{Images belong to Molly Idle}

stay tuned for Day 10: Zombelina by Kristyn Crow, illustrated by Molly Idle

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