"review" · Children's · Picture book · recommend

{picture book} Max the…adorably funny

 

Max the Brave by Ed Vere

Puffin Books, 2014 (UK). Sourcebooks, 2015 (US)

This is Max.

Max the Brave, Max the Fearless, Max the Mouse-catcher…But, in order to be a Mouse-catcher, Max needs to know what a mouse is, so off he goes to find out.

With that cover and jacket copy, Mo Willem and Oliver Jeffers fans are already intrigued: go with your gut: find yourself a copy of this picture book.

I was charmed almost immediately, but Max the Brave still caught me by surprise. Vere is the master of the long joke and finessed an unexpected twist along the way. The close is a satisfying one that had me laughing, even later, just thinking about it.

I dig the color palette. The appeal of Vere’s decisions with Max at so many levels cannot go without saying. He makes this book an easy recommendation beyond sheer entertainment. For instance, I’m geeked about the vocabulary. The verbs used are glorious. And they make sense in that these are things mice do. Unsurprisingly, Max is focused on the nature of mice…and cats, of course…and monsters.

While I wouldn’t limit Max the Brave to the present Autumnal/Halloween season, it is a good read to indulge in with your self and maybe another younger reader/listener.

Recommendations: For fans of the aforementioned Mo Willems and Oliver Jeffers; also Jon Klassen, Mac Barnett, Alex Latimer, Molly Idle. Emerging readers. Word lovers. Those who appreciate beautiful comedic timing.

{images belong to Ed Vere}

rip10500A Reader’s Imbibing Peril (RIP) X read….

 

"review" · Children's · concenter · Picture book · recommend

{picture book} wonder-full

Just in time for a baby shower gift, one of my favorites (I have a print on my wall) came out with a new book: not that I wouldn’t have gifted the recently released board book version of Dream Animals (my review).

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin 

Random House, 2015.

Emily Windfield Martin’s latest opens with:

When I look at you

And you look at me,

I wonder what wonderful

Things you will be.

before the narrator begins to speculate what this new child will be. Later in the book, the reader will wonder aloud as to what the child will do:

This is the first time

There has ever been a you,*

So I wonder what wonderful things

You will do.

There are some things that will go without wondering. There are some things the narrator knows about the child, can anticipate.

I know you’ll be kind…

and clever…

The sentiments are more than wonderful and I had a customer (an aunt buying for a niece) admit to becoming verklempt before hugging it to her chest and walking toward the registers with it. Natalya is still in a stage of deep-sighing when I hand her sentimental things like this to read. Fortunately, there is humor; also, she has a fondness for Martin’s art as well.

I love love love the words and pictures on the spread where a boy sitting at a sewing machine holds up tiny pants for a squirrel. Natalya recommends the one below, the one with the band (which Martin admits is a favorite).

The Wonderful Things You Will Be has a page that reads:

When nights are black and

When days are gray—

You’ll be brave and be bright

So no shadows can stay.

The image is a girl in a red coat, hood back, contemplating the red balloon stuck in the branches of a tree at the edge of a wood.

I think the endpapers are pretty sweet, too.

I mentioned the male tailor, but Martin always features a diverse population unusual to most picture books. I adore the details and I love the charmingly peculiar she includes in her books, though it makes sense if you consider successfully writing for an audience with such charming peculiarities within their own imaginations. Martin is well-suited to picture book creating.

The Wonderful Things You Will Be is a lovely, serious yet playful addition to the family library. You can’t start too young with this one, nor can you out-grow it.

——

of note: Martin fans will recognize and smile at the appearance of the Kitten Bandit among others. also, fans, check out RandomHouse’s cool little option to send e-cards!

If I’d done some real planning, I would have hunted down a red/white striped footie-pjs to pair with the book.

*a line reminiscent of Nancy Tillman books of the same genre. I’m pleased to have word-choice and image aesthetic options in these books.

{All images are Emily Winfield Martin’s; do check out her work at ‘the black apple’. You can see great spreads of the book here.}

 

"review" · Children's · comics/graphic novels · recommend · Tales

{picture book} Hatke’s creatures

JuliasHouseJulia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

First Second 2014.

When Julia’s house finds a new place to settle, she puts a sign out for lost creatures to combat her own sense of loneliness. But now a new conflict has arisen and a list of chores is her solution.

Ben Hatke, whom we have long since learned is a genius with young heroines and illustrated robots, impresses with his more earthbound whimsy. Julia’s house is charming and its inhabitants excite the imagination—and the fine digressions into lore.

Julia's Home for Lost Creatures II

julias house for lost creatures 2

The color palette, style, energy (I do love Julia’s hair)…Hatke manages a delightful picture book that is sweetly entertaining. And what caregiver will be able to resist a conversation on the way we can participate more harmoniously as family?—which is how we talk chores in our own creature-filled household. A lesson (besides “look at the mermaid doing the dishes, sweetie!”) that I appreciated was Julia’s understanding of her own limitations and abilities; which seem to frequent Hatke’s work. The house is too quiet, she opts for hospitality; it becomes too much for her, she asks for help. Hatke’s heroines are a resourceful lot. I was totally geeked to see Julia had a workshop.

Oh, and if you were a bit bummed by the idea that one of Hatke’s robots would not make an appearance? You’ll find a lovely invention there at the end.

julia's house chores

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures is a great little book about community. It is also a great place to join Hatke in the workings of the imagination. I look forward to what Hatke will have for us next. (another Zita??).

 ———–

Not to be categorized as girls only and it spans a good age range. I’m thinking about this one for a storytime and encourage listeners to draw their own creature (and what chore would suit them best?). You should also take this book as a hint to check out Zita Spacegirl if you’ve yet done so.

Hatke did a blog tour called “Ben Hatke’s Bestiary of Lost Creatures” that may interest you.

 {images belong to Ben Hatke}

Uncategorized

{book} imagine Beekle

beekle coverThe Adventures of Beekle, The Unimaginary Friend

by Dan Santat (Little, Brown & Co. 2014)

On a magical island, a creature is born and left to imagine the friend made especially for them. Nameless, the creature waits in increasing despair while the others meet their matches.

The creature in Dan Santat’s The Adventures of Beekle is from the point-of-view of a yet-named Beekle, but the reader can easily imagine the perspective of the child awaiting Beekle’s realization. Beekle’s perspective is easily understood to be felt and experienced not only by itself, but the the human child as well.

Beekle_Int_HiRes2Santat dreams up the origins of unimaginary friends, and sends one of them on an adventure. Beekle dares to not be forgotten or left unimagined, braving the enormity of nature and adulthood to find where childhood resides. Though smaller in scale, the vibrantly imagined stands out against cold, dark hues of a contemporary urban landscape, walking among renderings of industry and isolation. The shift back to the warmth rendered in that magical island occurs when Beekle enters a playground. Even so, Beekle is alone, everyone else occupied with their unimaginary companion. Santat draws out the tension, the hopefulness that our new friend will find a pairing, and that the adventures will be less lonely. Either kind, alone or in the company of a child, Beekle’s adventures are familiar and moving.

BEEKLE_10

Prepare to be utterly charmed by the creatures Santat renders for the story. Fans of Santat will have already anticipated excellence in color and texture. And the pencilled text is hand-lettered reminding the reader yet again that the author/illustrator is invested in a story about friendship and imagination. After all, the book sitting on its shelf is waiting for a reader to join it in an adventure. I certainly hope that audiences will be inspired to illustrate their own imaginable creatures and adventures; or perhaps play them out. It would be a heartening way to portray the world with childhood portraits (think school pictures) with an equalled attempt to represent an unimaginary friend.

b/w image of the endpages
b/w image of the endpages

Santat is known for his humor and imagination, but this one is less silly than I had come to expect. It brushes close to Shaun Tan’s work. Santat renders the overlap of the rich inner & outer life beautifully. The sweet hopefulness resides just this side of the melancholic, not yet ready to surrender to the disillusionment of childhood in modern life. Fears of being left out, last-to-be-picked, loneliness are buoyed with the optimism of youth and the experienced voice of a wiser and practiced storyteller.

The Adventures of Beekle is sure to be classic, and one to stay on the shelves well beyond childhood and its unimaginary friendships.

————————————–

santatCheck out this Interview by Minh Le for Book Riot in which Santat answers the book’s dedication is Alek: “Alek is my oldest son who is eight years old. Years before he was born, the idea of an imaginary friend who couldn’t be imagined was something I was tinkering with for years. […] When Alek was born, and when he could finally speak, his first word was Beekle, which was his word for bicycle. At the time, my wife mentioned that it would be a great name for a children’s book character and I immediately realized that I had a name for my new character. Once I named the character the rest of the story flowed right out of me naturally and because of that the scene where Beekle learns his name is especially precious to me.”

Dan Santat is the author/illustrator of Sidekicks and the winner of the Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators for Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) by Mac Barnett. He is also the creator of the Disney animated hit, The Replacements. Dan lives in Southern California with his wife, two kids, and various pets.

{images belong to Dan Santat}

Beekle is my 5th Santat-illustrated book reviewed here (thus far): Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds; Crankenstein by Samantha Berger; Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show by Michael Buckley; & The Guild of Geniuses by Dan Santat. I can easily recommend them all.

 

"review" · Children's · concenter · Illustrator · Picture book · recommend · Tales

{illustrator} yuyi morales

30 days of pbI occasionally share an illustrator who has caught my eye. See the above “picture book list” for other illustrators highlighted on this blog. For ’30 Days of Picture Books’,“Day Six” features three books and an Illustrator’s Spotlight!

Day Thirty:  Little Night; Just in Case: A Trickster Tale & Spanish Alphabet Book; and  Nino Wrestles the World .

——————————

yuyi Illustration-from-Georgia-for-Molly
from Amy Novesky’s Georgia in Hawaii

yuyi moralesYuyi Morales is an author, artist, and puppet maker and was the host of her own Spanish-language radio program for children. Her books have won numerous awards and citations including the Americas Award, the Jane Addams Award, the Christopher Award, three Pura Belpre Medals, and three Pura Belpre Honors. She divides her time between the San Francisco area and Veracruz Mexico.

“I was born in the city of flowers, Xalapa, Mexico, where the springs came out from the sand, or so the story says. […]When I grow old I dream in becoming a professional liar. You know, those kind of people that tell stories and everybody goes, “Ahh, Ohh!” (“me”).

from an interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith at Cynsations: “From the books I borrowed, I learned how to make handmade-paper, and baskets, and how to bind books, carve rubber stamps, and build puppets and make them walk. But mostly I learned that everything I always wanted to learn I could find it in a book.

From Marisa Montes’ Los Gatos Black on Halloween
From Marisa Montes’ Los Gatos Black on Halloween

“From books in the library, I fell in love with children’s literature and their art. I awed at the sight of illustrations and studied picture book after picture book, wondering at how illustrators could bring such a magic to their work.” read the complete interview here.

Her picture books:  Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez, illus. for Kathleen Krull (HMH 2003); Just a Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (Chronicle 2003); Los Gatos Black on Halloween, Illus. for Marisa Montes (Henry Holt and Co 2006); Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book (Roaring Brook 2008); My Abuelita, illus. for Tony Johnston (HMH 2009); Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O’Keeffe Painted What She Pleased, illus. for Amy Novesky (HMH 2012); Ladder to the Moon, illus for Maya Soetoro-Ng (Candlewick 2011); Little Night (Roaring Brook 2007); Floating on Mama’s Song/Flotando En L Cancion de Mama, illus for Laura Lacamara (Katherine Tegen 2010); Sand Sister, illus. for Amanda White (Barefoot 2004); Viva Frida (Roaring Brook 2014)

bicy_animation

“I was born in Mexico, the eldest of four children. I always drew. I copied from my family’s photographs, I drew my relatives’ faces, and I looked at myself in the mirror to draw myself again and again. I was also interested in sports. My two sisters and I developed into competitive swimmers; we traveled a lot, and trained with our team twice a day, even during winter. Some times the water was so cold that we could not curl our fingers or lift our arms to comb our hair afterwards. As I grew up, it was time to choose a career. Even though I loved to draw and create, it never occurred to me that I could become an artist. Instead I went to the University to study to be a P.E. teacher and Psychologist. Soon after I graduated, I became a swimming coach. And that is what I was doing when things came to a big change.”–Aline Pereira’s interview w/ Morales, Paper Tigers (here)

Yuyi Morales’ artwork is intriguing, but learning more about her and her story you begin to confirm that sneaking suspicion you had that there is a vibrant, playful, and warm creator behind the work you’ve been admiring.

from Tony Johnston's My Abuelita
from Tony Johnston’s My Abuelita

——————————————–

little night coverLittle Night by Yuyi Morales,

A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Book Press 2007

 Yuyi Morales plays with the getting-ready-for-bed story as Mother Sky tries to coax Little Night into a bathtub of stars. The sun sets, and the sky cools and darkens Mother Sky’s skirts as she bathes and dresses a child more interested in playing hide-and-seek.

Little Night hides in places wherein night would blend, with animals and hues like a little night. The color scheme moves from warm sunset reds, oranges, pinks to cooling and harder-surfaced reds to deepening into purples and blues. The evidence of brushwork is broad and sweeping, lending to the expansive quality of a tale set in the sky.

It is lovely to consider how the greatness of the sky and the night participate in each relatively small beings of the reader. Little Night appears both human child-size and large in the scale of villages, but Mother Sky is always large, but not looming on the page. The definitive thematic images are of Mother Sky’s domestic chores, seeking Little Night, and her holding Little Night on her lap. She is a comforting, caring presence. She’s also rendered quite beautiful.

little_night_vestirseaLittle Night is impish, and the whole interplay between Mother and Night is very sweet. It is also magical (shocking, I know), but the “dress crotched from clouds” is perfect, and that the “hair pins are stars,” named as they are placed in Little Night’s hair.

Little Night is probably an obvious choice for bedtime, and it is indeed one to nestle in with, but Little Night is not the only impish figure. The author isn’t putting Little Night to bed—it’s nighttime, it’s time for the child to be waking, to be bathed and dressed, fed and groomed, and given the moon as a ball with which to run out and play.

little nightOf course we all have times for sleeping and times for running wild and in sport. Little Night is for both of those times.

 —————————

just in case coverJust in Case: A Trickster Tale & Spanish Alphabet Book by Yuyi Morales, A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Book Press 2008

A new adventure with Señor Calavera following Just a Minute!: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book (Chronicle Books 2003)

After meeting  Señor Calavera (who has his own website), I know I am going to have to find Just a Minute! His efforts to find the perfect gifts for his dear friend Grandma Beetle was perfectly encantadora.

It is almost time for the Grandma Beetle’s birthday party and Señor Calavera is nearly ready to go, tie ironed, bike maintenance… Then Señor Zelmiro appears suggesting Señor Calavera should bring a gift. He has time. Unsure of what would make Grandma Beetle most happy to receive on her special day, Señor Calavera will choose gifts of every letter of the alphabet.

As he collects gifts alphabetically— Una Acordéon: An accordion for her to dance to. Bigotes: A mustache because she has none. Cosquillas: Tickles to make her laugh—Señor Zelmiro keeps egging him on, asking him if these are the gifts Grandma Beetle will really want. They are all good gifts, but what was the most precious? [one ring to rule them all?]

before text
before text

Señor Calavera worries, and time is running close to missing the party entirely.

The skeleton on his bicycle makes it one letter past xilografia before disaster strikes. Never fear, as you might guess, Señor Calavera does make it through the alphabet to find a gift precious to everyone at the birthday party.

before text
before text

The colors are as lively as the text, and as warm as the sentiment. The details are worth lingering over, little touches here and there; e.g. the bone texture of the skull beneath a differentiated layer of paint where it is decorated. The translucence of the ghost is beautifully done, lending Señor Zelmira a solid presence, the white dots lending a silvery sparkle (like in Grandma Beetle’s hair).

via Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, by Yuyi Morales
via Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, by Yuyi Morales

I was taken with the inclusion of the book resting beneath Señor Calavera’s hat in his bedroom: Cien años de soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) [by Gabriel Garcia Marquez].

I was really taken with privileging all the text by not italicizing the Spanish language words. I should do a post on code-switching. No, the only italicizing was appropriate to the exclaimed (thus emphasized) ¡Quizás! (maybe or perhaps). Looking up the word Quizás led me to a YouTube video of Andrea Bocelli and Jennifer Lopez singing “Quizás, Quizás, Quizás.” Naturally, I want to share that link here. You’re welcome.

Natalya (2013)
Natalya (2013)

I mentioned I should do a post on code-switching, but I should really get Natalya to talk about it and her brief exchange with Poet Eduardo C. Corral on just whom bilingual picture books are really for?

Ignore the impulse to consider Just in Case a foreign language acquisition tool, and employ it as you’d do any picture book: as a tool of language acquisition. Natalya (nearly 14 now) and I will still occasionally indulge an alphabet game. The level of difficulty has been amped since she was 5, of course. But I wish we’d known xilografia back when, as ‘x’ can be the most limited alphabet game letter otherwise.  I wish we’d had this book back then.

———————————

nino-wrestles-the-world coverNino Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales, A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press 2013. Includes “About Lucha Libre”

nino ficha_lloronaIn the popular tradition of the “theatrical, action-packed style of professional wrestling” of Lucha Libre, Yuyi Morales pits Nino against some gnarly cultural bogey-men. Love the appearance La Llorona, how she comes on scene and is defeated. Every competitor’s bio (including pronunciations) decorate the end pages, even Las Hermanitas who prove to be Nino’s most challenging of competitors.

nino-wrestles-the-world-illustration-yuyi-moralesMorales enacts a fantastic production in colors, graphics, energy and imaginative play. An absolute must for entertainment alone. Second are the lessons in courage, play, and siblinghood.

nino hermanitas-for_chelsea2It reminds me a bit of Kel Gilligan’s Daredevil Stunt Show by Michael Buckley and Dan Santat (Harry N. Abrams 2012).

Start your Yuyi Morales collection, and if you have to start it somewhere, Nino Wrestles the World would be an excellent book with which to begin.

{all images belong to Yuyi Morales, check out her site here}

"review" · Children's · concenter · music · non-fiction · Picture book · poet-related · recommend · wondermous

{book} a legacy, a man, a company of men, and Ntozake Shange

30 days of pbDay Twenty-Nine: Ellington Was Not a Street

Written by Ntozake Shange

Illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Simon & Schuster for Young Readers [text: 1983] 2004

ellington2The narrative of Ellington Was Not a Street comes from Ntozake Shange’s poem “Mood Indigo” (from A Daughter’s Geography, 1983). The poem, excerpted for the picture book, is a reflection of and tribute to a legacy of African American innovator, a “company of men” “who changed the world.” It is a personal poem of a young Shange (nee Paulette Williams) whose home nurtured and was nurtured by this company of men.

Only such gorgeously wrought poem could withstand the company of Kadir Nelson’s illustrations. The images themselves (as Sean, an Artist, breathed “precise”) have a precision a poet, too, would recognize.

 

ellington celebrating-the-duke

You may want to read with some kind of liquid precision the first time through, caught in a rhythm of the words, but plan the time to linger again and again on an image, a deeply impactful moment Shange and Nelson have crafted. It took me a stretch of time to pull away from the cover, then from the portrait facing the title page (‘piano’ image above). I was drawn to circle

our house was filled with all kinda folks

our windows were not cement or steel

our doors opened like our daddy’s arms

held us safe & loved

As the narrative acknowledges the simultaneity of then and now, the illustrations move back and forth in time between the streetscape whether the narrator reminisces and her childhood home. Her home is quiet, interior, full of warm patterns. The street is busy with a different sort of liveliness, other textures that are met with rain. The narrator holds a red umbrella amongst the institutionalized black, a “Don’t Walk” sign flashing at the intersection.

Our narrator, she is small in the presence of the company, her and her brother, and she is small in this house (another of her surroundings), but she is without question present, never forgotten, and cherished (e.g. a man’s suit jacket draped over her as a blanket as she sleeps on the couch).

ellington fps-133397_2zThe images are real, not abstracted. The poem is hardly abstract, but an illustrator could have reinterpreted the narrative into something more ephemeral. The detail in the setting, the verisimilitude of the portrait, the inclusion of a group sitting for a ‘photograph,’ these establish the very real and tangible existence of the life/lives represented.

Ellington Was Not a Street includes two pages of biographies using excerpted images from the narrative, “More About a Few of the Men ‘Who Changed the World’:” (I will list them as the book does) : Paul Robeson, William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) DuBois, Ray Barretto, Earlington Carl “Sonny Til” Tilghman, John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, Virgil “Honey Bear” Akins, The Clovers.

The endpage at the close shares narrative the in its stanzaic form of “Mood Indigo.” Of course “Mood Indigo” is also a musical composition by Duke Ellington, so exquisitely observed on the vinyl held by our narrator on the cover: the record, an RCA Victor special of Mood Indigo by Duke Ellington and his famous orchestra. I have a YouTube option, undoubtedly a lesser quality, if you are interested.

Do I really have to say it? You really must find a copy of Ellington Was Not a Street.

ellington cover

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Ntozake_Shange,_Reid_Lecture,_Women_Issues_Luncheon,_Women's_Center,_November_1978
Ntozake Shange, Barnard College, Reid Lecture, November 1978 via Barnard College Archives

Poet, performance artist, playwright, and novelist Ntozake Shange was born Paulette Williams on October 18, 1948, in Trenton, New Jersey. She earned a B.A. in American Studies from Barnard College in 1970, and then left New York to pursue graduate studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. It was during this time that she took the name “Ntozake” (“she who comes into her own things”) “Shange” (“she who walks like a lion”) from the Zulu dialect Xhosa. She received an M.A. in American Studies from USC in 1973. […] She is the author of multiple children’s books and prose works, including Some Sing, Some Cry (St. Martin’s Press, 2010), If I Can Cook You Know God Can (1998), See No Evil: Prefaces, Essays & Accounts, 1976-1983 (1984), Sassafrass, Cypress & Indigo: A Novel (1982), and The Black Book (1986, with Robert Mapplethorpe).

Kadir Nelson is an award-winning American artist whose works have been exhibited in major national and international publications, institutions, art galleries, and museums. Nelson earned a Bachelor’s degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. […] Nelson has also gained acclaim for the artwork he has contributed to several NYT Best-selling picture books including his authorial debut, “WE ARE THE SHIP: The Story of Negro League Baseball”, winner of the Coretta Scott King and Robert F. Sibert Awards, and was published by Disney/Hyperion in the spring of 2008.

His corpus thus far is extensive: Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans (2011); Nelson Mandela (2012); He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands (2005); Baby Bear (2014); Change Has Come: An Artist Celebrates Our American Spirit (2009); Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom, words by Carole Boston Weatherford (2006)…. you can find listings here and here.

{images belong to Kadir Nelson, words to Ntozake Shange}

 

 

"review" · Children's · concenter · Picture book · recommend

{book} card carrying

30 days of pbDay Twenty-EightThe Midnight Library

By Kazuno Kohara 

Roaring Book Press 2014

themidnightlibrarycover

“Once there was a library that opened only at night.”

The Midnight Library’s hours are dusk to dawn and its serves an adorable population of animals. The librarian? A young girl assisted by three owls. The picture book has a fairy tale opening, “Once there was…,” and the reader is enchanted and amused by the young librarian and the patrons whom require a bit of extra attention: like the squirrel band, the crying wolf, and the visiting tortoise.

The Midnight Library portrays library life as growing readers will hopefully come to know it. The library is interested in serving its community by providing different spaces whether the needs are for quiet reading, band practice, or story time. I love how Miss Wolf is encouraged to finish a sad book. The librarian reassures her it will be worth it (knowing that it has a happy ending) and helps the Wolf through it.

There are behaviors that are appropriate to spaces, but in the library in general: like considering how your noisiness might affect others; depending on the librarian for help/advice; observing closing hours. And could we really leave this children’s picture book before learning about how to get a library card for borrowing books?

theML_spread2full

Kazuno Kohara applies her training in printmaking to create illustrations that beg for more surfaces than just the pages of her book. Her images are charming, the black ink bold against harvest moon yellows and midnight blues.

themlinterior2

The only false notes for me will likely not bother most; comic book readers may find an irritation. The images span a double page layout, and the movement of the composition draws the eye along left to right; even when the reader wants to follow the upper left text by reading (in sequence) the next set of lines below on the left page. The occurrence is limited to a couple pages. And if one limits their view to only the left page (like the above image, nothing appears out of order). Another double-page, late in the book, I began to wonder if the text and images were created separately and not revised into companionship. The illustrations do evidence a crafting with the other mind. The troublesome moment comes when I read upper left, then force my gaze back to read the lines on the bottom left, “one by one, the animals left the midnight library.” I’d already observe the animals exiting the library and would’ve preferred to read the text waiting on the right page bottom, “All except one new visitor…” Reading the book aloud, the narrative is smooth, and if I were reading to a child untroubled with the need to follow text, only image, I would confirm what it is they are seeing on the page. As it is there is a redundancy that limits its audience to the youngest of us; which is fine, of course. I just wish the design allowed for more.

theMidnight Library_spread 5

Such notes do not keep me from recommending The Midnight Library as a charming addition to every young child’s reading lists. No doubt, their eyes are more patient with the text and leisurely in their perusal of truly lovely illustrations. Preparing your child for a life-long love of the library? The Midnight Library is not only a wonderful educational tool, but an entertaining picture book as well.

Now to figure out how to order excerpted images for t-shirts and totes…

———————————————-

Kazuno Kohara grew up in Japan and moved to the U.K. as a student. She studied at Anglia Ruskin University from 2005 to 2008, and received MA Children’s Book Illustration and MA Printmaking. She is the author of Here Comes Jack Frost (2008), Ghosts in the House! (2009) and Little Wizard (2010).She lives in London, England.

{images belong to Kazuno Kohara}