Posts Tagged ‘Sophisticated picture book’

Starbird

By Sharon King-Chai

ISBN 9781509899562

Twohoots Books

 

If I could use only one word to describe this beautiful picture book, then I would use exquisite.

It is a beautiful work of art with intricate illustrations, many which are painted with silver foil so that the birds wings are shiny like jewels. Written very much in the form of a fable, we learn of the most beautiful Starbird, the only one of its kind who is captured by a King and kept in a cage for his daughter. His daughter, however, realises that a cage is no place for such a beautiful creature and lets it fly free. The father is angered and searches everywhere until once more, the bird is caged.

The message becomes clear and reminds us that captivity is not okay and the consequences are shameful. This is a sophisticated picture book about freedom and love and can be read on several levels.  This is one to keep and treasure or equally, a beautiful gift to give to someone special.

Starbird’s songs weave the richest dreams and delight all who hear him, but when the Moon King traps him in a cage as gift for his daughter, the colour and life in his voice begin to drip away. 

I adore it. Highly recommend it for all school libraries and lots of homes too.

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Little Frida : A story of Frida Kahlo

By Anthony Browne

ISBN 9781406381221

Walker Books

Anthony Browne has brought us another stunner of a picture book. His artwork is wonderfully distinctive and his fans are many, including myself. I have admired his work for years and was lucky enough to meet him a number of years ago. I stood in line awestruck as I waited to get my copy of Voices in the Park signed. Even though the queue was long he took the time to draw a quick picture and I still treasure this book very much. So I am delighted to be reading his latest picture book. It has a more creative non-fiction feel to it as the story he tells is based on the real life of artist Frida Kahlo. 

Browne beautifully illustrates Frida’s life as a young girl. He brings the pain of struggling through polio and the consequences of her illness that left her with a limping, thin leg and the cruelty of children who called her “Peg-Leg”. Frida was different, an outsider, often lonely, but her imagination created a new friend. Her new friend and the imaginary world they live in is portrayed beautifully and wistfully by Browne. It is a world of hope and beauty, friendship and dancing. In this new world Frida is finding her strengths and that is painting. Frida is becoming an artist. 

I love how one artist can take the life of another artist and create a beauty on its own. There is at times a sense of surrealism and sophistication about the illustrations, which is Browne’s own trademark but he also incorporates Frida’s own style. Browne uses rich, bold colours and there are, as always, little hidden images, including an old friend from his other books but I will leave that for you to find. I will say though, it made me smile.

The biographical notes about Frida are framed like a work of art itself on the final end page.  Out of pain comes beauty and Browne shows this in his stunning new picture book. It is an essential book for school libraries but also a book that will be special in any home. I love too, the way the book feels, with its embossed frame of little Frida on the cover.  Frida was famous for her self-portraits often adding bits of fantasy to her paintings.  Browne honours Frida with his own sense of fantasy, so do look closely at the cover before you open the pages and enter the world of Frida Kahlo as a young girl.

Tintinnabula

By Margo Lanagan

ISBN 9781742975252

Little Hare

 

In wild times and in wartime,

in times of fear and illness, I go

to Tintinnabula, where soft rains fall.

 

Tintinnabula is a story about moving from discomfort to peace,

from violence and uncertainty to a still, sure place.

It reminds us that our best friend in hard times

can often be ourselves.

 

The first thing you notice with this beautiful picture book is the cut out shape in the middle of the cover. It is a portal into another world. Margo Lanagan takes us on a journey through darkness and out the other side. A lone figure stands at the entrance, seemingly hesitant to walk through, but guided by the light in the distance on the other side, we know she will step inside. And we step inside her world too.

 She hears the sound of bells ringing far away and this urges her onward through dark inhospitable landscapes with hidden dangers lurking in the shadows. The language is succinct and sublime, poetical and poignant. What makes this particularly powerful is that as the young woman travels through harsh environments she discovers that the strength she searches for comes from within. Only she can save herself and move from the darkness into the light where she can finally find peace.

The illustrations are beautiful.  Different shades of grey, black, and red merge to create a haunting and moody atmosphere, at times quite chilling. There are dark shadowy creatures chasing the young woman but she keeps going, following the sound of bells. Splashes of white soon begin to appear,  blending and forming into the shape of bells.  Symbolically they lead her to self-acceptance.

As dark as this sophisticated picture book is, it is in the end an uplifting one. It is within ourselves that we find strength to move forward when life becomes too difficult.

A stunning book, dark, broody but also hopeful. This is a wonderful sophisticated picture book that can be read across all levels.

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
BY Eric Bogle
Illustrated by Bruce Whatley
ISBN 9781743317051
Allen and Unwin

band 2

We all know the famous anti-war song but in this sophisticated picture book format, the song takes on new meaning. It is the story of the battle at Gallipoli and with the 100 year commemorations happening soon, this book is ideal as a talking point at all levels across the school curriculum. I can see primary, intermediate and secondary school teachers and librarians using it to tell students about the Gallipoli Campaign and how even now their are still many lessons to learn. For Australians and New Zealanders, the ANZAC’s and the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign will forever be part of our shared history. This book is a must have for any school library.
It is an iconic song with a powerful message and beautifully illustrated. I have seen and read many of the books Bruce Whatley has illustrated with his humorous style but this book is completely different. The mostly sepia tones of the illustrations help create a mood and feeling that left me quite stunned. The trailer, a combination of the song and the book’s illustrations reflects the images of a war that won’t be forgotten. I was reluctant to return the book to the public library as I wanted to read it over and over again but I have since ordered one for school.

There are teacher notes for classroom use found here.

Rules of summer
By Shaun Tan

tan

I have been hanging out for this book for some months now and when it arrived in the shops this week I didn’t wait. I bought it immediately and I am already in love with it. Shaun Tan is one very talented artist who not only challenges the reader but excites and moves us as well.
The feel of the book, its colours and textures from cover to cover are a work of art but then again you would not expect anything less from Shaun Tan.
This is a story about two boys, either friends or brothers. It is not made clear but it is the relationship between the two on this particular day that is important. There is almost a sense of foreboding and superstition in the “rules” being told about how to deal with life. Terrible things will happen if you break the rules. Tan deliberately adds bizarre characters to the mix and places them in amongst the everyday, asking us to question just what is real and what isn’t.
Tan tempts us to look back on our own childhood and remember the long hot days of summer, the good and the bad and how often what we remember is not what really happened.
This beautifully crafted book can be used at face value or read over and over again on so many different levels. There are teacher notes available for class use which will help unpack this book and lead to an even deeper understanding of this story.
Rules of summer
As with all of Shaun Tan’s work when it comes to the crunch, there are just no rules and that is why he continues to win so many awards. Absolutely love this book!

Unforgotten
By Tobhy Riddle
Allen & Unwin

“Nobody knows where they come from.
But they come.
Impossible birds of the big sky
and the long night…”

I love this book. It is a thought provoking hardback picture/fiction book of few words. The illustrations tell us so much more than words. We are encouraged to be aware of others and to remember them and the impact on our lives or the lives of others. The illustrations are a mix of photographic collage and drawings mostly in darker shades. The choice of shadowy colours suggests so much around us is unseen or un-noticed. Or worse – fogotten! I could spend hours reading and re-reading this book. Something new to look at every time. It is both beautiful and haunting. Definitley a 5 out of 5.
The music for the trailer is perfect for the book.

For teachers there are teaching notes available here.