Kaneko , M. (2016). Are You An Echo? Seattle: Chin Music Press Inc.
edited by by David Jacobson, Sally Ito, and Michiko Tsuboi
I’m going to start with the drawings so they don’t get lost. Toshikado Hajiri’s illustrations in the children’s picturebook, Are You An Echo? are beautiful and make me stop long enough to recognize the beauty not only in the pictures, but before me in my life. Fitting, for the poetry of Misuzu Kaneko is childlike, clear, and feels strong enough to stop time.
It was powerful enough to make Setsuo Yazaki research sixteen years for the Kaneko’s lost poetry. For all he could find was a poem that delighted him. How could someone understand how fish felt? Big Catch: Continue reading
Mesmerized, I pulled my first Oliver Jeffers book closer to see, so close indeed that I never let his work out of my sight. The Boy series (will there be a fifth?) are some of the best examples of basic illustrations of adorable characters paired with a hopeful story. In the first book, How to Catch a Star, the boy wishes to catch a star and imagines all different ways to do so. In the second book, Lost and Found, a penguin shows up at the boy’s front step. This begins a delightful friendship that carries throughout the series with The Way Back Home and Up and Down.
As humorous, quick, and light Jeffers can be, his 2010 book, The Heart and the Bottle, departed and decided to explore grief. A difficult story of a girl losing her dear father at a young age is brilliantly approached. This is a special book. Mirroring his other picturebooks, this one slowly and deliberately turns itself around to face joy. Maria Popova recently published an article, The Heart and the Bottle: A Tender Illustrated Fable of What Happens When We Deny Our Difficult Emotions: A gentle reminder of what we stand to lose when we lock away loss.” As Popova points out, “the app version of the story is excellent beyond words”, and how true that is! It’s a forward-thinking and engaging experience.
Jeffers has an entertaining YouTube video where he explains his organic creative process, how he makes his ideas come to life and be strong, how much he likes to label things, and more.
Gordon, G. (2013). Herman and Rosie. New York: Roaring Book Press.
A surreal and blatant love letter to New York City, the reader is plunged into the worlds of Herman and Rosie, who live close to each other but have yet to serendipidously meet. They both love the City with its cacophony of musical sounds, but they also both feel lonely in the midst of so many. It is postmodernist, as the characters make reference to each other before they meet. Furthermore, there are smaller separate stories told within the pictures, discovered with closer examination. Continue reading
Gay, M. (2014). Caramba. Toronto: Groundwood Books.
A thought-provoking new release from Marie-Louise Gay, this picturebook aims to not only answer questions but more importantly, incite children to keep asking questions. Often children will express an interest in where stories come from and how a book is made, and Gay inspires children to capture their imaginations on paper. Via a creative tag-team approach, Continue reading
Alemagna, B. (2014). A Lion in Paris. London: Tate Publishing.
Originally published in French as Un Lion à Paris.
Here is the story of a lion from the grasslands who finds himself unfulfilled and therefore travels into Paris. He delights and prides himself at being the centre of attention and so becomes befuddled when people do not react strongly to his presence on the Métro or pulling up at chair at the famous outdoor spot, Café de Flore. A story of finding oneself, the lion’s journey ends Continue reading
McLerran, A. (1991). Roxaboxen. New York: Scholastic Inc.
Captured are the power of imagination and the magic of childhood in this nostalgic tale based on real events. Constructed from rocks and boxes, “Roxaboxen”, is an entire town filled with a town hall, two ice cream shops, and a jail with an uncomfortable cactus floor for those caught speeding in their make believe cars. This reflective narrative makes it clear that broken desert glass, Continue reading
Leaf, M. (1936). The Story of Ferdinand. New York: The Viking Press.
Awards: Indies Choice Book Award for Picture Book Hall of Fame (2010)
Gandhi’s favourite book, Ferdinand tells the story of a young Spanish bull who prefers smelling flowers to running, jumping, skipping and butting heads with the other little bulls. We quickly learn that Ferdinand is different, and that he is comfortable with this. We ingest a lot through discovering Ferdinand – the effectiveness of peaceful demonstration, the wonderfulness of quiet confidence, and the respect for individual variations. For this particular bull would like to just Continue reading
Browne, A. (2004). Into the Forest. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press. Author illustrator Anthony Browne has amassed an impressive collection of award-winning picture books. Known for his postmodernist approach, Into the Forest is no exception. A boy is awoken in the middle of the night by a storm, establishing a sense of foreboding. The diagonal lines in the shadows immediately put us on edge, and we turn the page to discover the father is Continue reading
Snicket, L. (2013). The Dark. Toronto, Ontario: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
Laszlo is afraid of the dark. We see Laszlo clad in his blue jammies, playing on the hardwood floor of an empty room, with his torch tucked safely by his side. He appears ill at ease as he monitors the setting sun. The deadpan Lemony Snicket teams up with illustrator Jon Klassen to create a charming but haunting story where dark is personified to play out the classic battle between light and dark. “Hi Dark”, Laszlo would say to it everyday, until one day it responded, “Come closer.” Continue reading
Gay, M. (2005). Caramba. Toronto: Groundwood Books.
Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award (2006)
Cats can fly?! Well yes, surely everybody knows that! And we are once again thrust into the wild world of Marie-Louise Gay as she presents Caramba, the cat who sadly could not fly. The reader is then privy to a story of being different and the challenges which accompany being unique. Caramba finds Continue reading