Posts Tagged ‘Children’s picture books’

The blue hour

By Isabelle Simler

ISBN 9780802854889

Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

I have to say, I think this picture book is beautiful. The illustrations and its many multitudes of blues is simply stunning. The story of twilight with many different birds and animals coming out from their hiding places is gentle, peaceful with a sense of magic and awe. The first end pages show 32 dabs of blue, much like paint test pots showing the many different blues used throughout the book. It is not often we see a picture book using mostly one colour, but here the different intensities of blue help create a wonderful mysterious world. Beautiful! I feel as if I am standing on the edge, looking in and watching a secret world unfold before my eyes.

The sun has set, the day has ended, but the night hasn’t quite arrived yet. This magical twilight is known as the blue hour. Everything in nature—sky, water, flowers, birds, foxes—comes together in a symphony of blue to celebrate the merging of night and day.

The book trailer is just lovely and the music very tranquil. Very soothing.

Virginia Wolf

By Kyo Maclear

Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault

ISBN 9781911496038

Book Island

 

What an absolutely charming and thought-provoking picture book. Gorgeously illustrated with careful consideration given to the choice of colours to help show the different moods and feelings of young Virginia. 

Some days Virginia feels wolfish and growls at her sister to stop making noise as everything is just too much for her. The sound of teeth being brushed is too much and even the birds chirping is too noisy and distracting. Such sadness is difficult for Virginia to live with and all she wants is to curl up in her bed and be left alone. For Vanessa it is painful to watch as her sister crawls slowly into a world of her own. But sisterly love is strong and Vanessa tries everything to help her. Beautifully written but just as important, it is great to see the topic of depression being discussed. More important than anything is the lasting impression of hope. Hope that things will get better and they do. Perfect ending. 

 

Meet Virginia, who is feeling particularly wolfish today. Somehow, her sister Vanessa must help her feel better. But how can one girl save another from turning into a grumpy, gobbling wolf? The only way to find out is to pick up a paintbrush and see where your imagination takes you.

 

Loosely inspired by sisters Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell, this stunning picture book is a testament to the power of creativity to inspire and heal, and to the loving bond between siblings.

What are you supposed to be?

By Paul Beavis

ISBN 9781775434054

Scholastic NZ

 

 

There is so much to love about this new picture book by Paul Beavis. The wonderful warm colours, the gorgeous quirky illustrations which totally capture the characters and their personalities. I have been a fan of Paul Beavis for some time now and I do think he just keeps getting better and better.

Everyone knows REAL wolves go Grrrrr and HOWL at the moon…  

but what happens here is the story of an inquisitive little girl who is determined to make the not so wolf-like wolf more like a real wolf. I love her determination and wolf’s matter-of-factness that he is just fine the way he is. Their expressions are delightful. What makes this book special though is the realisation that you can be true to yourself. You don’t need to change anything about yourself for anyone else. A lesson many adults still find hard to learn. 

This is a wonderful picture book to share and read over and over. Look out for wolf’s tongue and the funny way it keeps sticking out. Cute and funny.

I love this book so much I asked Paul Beavis a few questions and you can see his answers  right here.

 

Your illustrations have a wonderful mix of quirkiness and warmth. How hard is it to get that mix just right?

I find it very hard. The major issue is trying to get what’s in your head onto the page, I suspect most illustrators have the same thing. Oddly enough the wolf character came fairly quickly, he was originally meant to be part of a 3 Little pigs animation thing I was developing in the late nineties, nothing came from this but I filed away the wolf drawing as I thought he had something. The little girl character design was a nightmare to get right. Like casting a film you know the right one when you see them, but I have to draw them first. Once Scholastic were on board with the project I had Lynette and her team’s experience to help me decide which character designs were worth following. Also involved was Vida Kelly, Art director supreme. I’ve worked with Vida on all my books and she has the magic ability of nudging me in the right direction. She gives me the confidence to follow an illustration idea that I might doubt but she knows with a little work it will shine.

There is also with almost of all of your books a sense of mischievousness to them. Did you get up to much mischief as a child?

Well I always imagined I was a good boy/teenager. But my fiancée is a school teacher and having told her some of what I got up to in and out of school she is less than impressed, she would have marked my card very early on. However my Dad, who was pretty smart, never knew that all the football practices I said I was going to were in fact detentions.

What comes first – pictures in your head or the story?

The character always come first. Be it a drawing of an odd looking wolf or an old lady in Mrs Mo’s case, they both stared back at me and I wondered what’s your story?

This happens very rarely as I’ve drawn hundreds of faces/characters over the years. After I have my ‘star’ the real challenge is to find someone for them to act against. Then the story evolves with me speaking to myself (in my head) and writing down the dialogue, I churn out of lot and then edit this back down to find the basic bones of a story. The hard work then begins of trying to make a story that can be read multiple times while hoping against hope that it will resonate in the readers mind.

If you could have dinner with any character from any book who would it be and why?

Well based on my behaviour as a child, I reckon an afternoon with young George from the Roald Dahl book George’s Marvellous Medicine would be interesting to say the least. I’d hope to go toe to toe with him on some of my questionable deeds, although I will say that I have never poisoned an elderly relative. I’m assuming dinner would be a burger and coke, and if we go back to the 1980s when I read the book we’d find ourselves in either A Little Chef or a Wimpy Bar, both were pretty grotty by today’s standards but I felt ‘proper posh’ going in them as a child.

What advice would you give to children who want to write or illustrate?

Write, write, write, draw, draw, draw. More importantly don’t worry if it’s not right the first time, this is so crucial to remember so I’m going to say it again don’t worry if it’s not right the first time. Because the great thing is that you don’t know how good you’re going to be, if you knew already where would be the fun in that?

Think of it as a big adventure, at the moment you are just wandering towards a mountain stepping through endless fields of cow dung (or dinosaur dung if you want to add a bit more excitement) but each of these stinky fields you make through makes you stronger. Then one day you’ll find yourself stepping on the mountain path and all sorts of possibilities open up.

Brilliant. Thank you Paul for taking the time to share your thoughts. I love that your dad thought you were at football when you were actually in detention.

That’s not a hippopotamus!

By Juliette MacIver

Illustrated by Sarah Davis

ISBN 9781927271971

Gecko Press

Published September 2016

Thats Not a Hippopotamus_Cover_med

 

This is not the first time author Juliette MacIver and illustrator Sarah Davis have worked together and I am sure it won’t be the last. They work so well together that as a team they are a first rate pair. Juliette’s rhyme and way with words is wonderful to read aloud. Sarah’s ability to turn any story into works of illustrative art is equally wonderful.

That’s not a hippopotamus! is the funny story of a class visiting the zoo only to discover that the hippopotamus is missing. Or is he? The children hunt high and low but keep coming up empty handed. Hippo doesn’t seem to anywhere. Only Liam, the quiet boy, seems to know anything but he is dragged around by his frantic teacher who clearly is so busy running around she ignores Liams suggestions. I do feel sorry for Liam. There is a Liam in every class but will she end up listening to him?

The children are delightful, full of colour and character. Readers will love finding hippo in amongst the pages. He has the ability to slip in and out of the pages with ease, even hiding among elephants and if you look close enough – even up a tree. Lots of different animals and birds to identify too. If you check out the title page you can see that right from the start Liam knows just what to look for when looking for a hiding hippopotamus. Lessons in there perhaps but a great read aloud for young readers.