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.
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
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
Jeffers, O. (2007). The Way Back Home. London: Harper Collins Children’s Books.
The third in Jeffers’ boy series.
The story kicks off with an intertextual nod to the second of the series, Lost and Found, as the boy pulls a boat into his house to store. He finds an aeroplane in the closet and not remembering that he put it there, he reasons it’s a good idea to go for a trip to the moon. After running out of gas on the moon, he surprisingly meets someone else who is likewise, in a predicament. Continue reading
Gay, M. (2010). Roslyn Rutabaga and the Biggest Hole on Earth! Toronto: Groundwood Books.
Roslyn wakes up one morning knowing full well what is on her agenda for the day. Dig a hole to China, of course! Or perhaps the South Pole so she can finally meet a penguin. Enthusiastically she bounds down the stairs and recounts the plan to her father at the breakfast table, to which he simply inquires, “Will you be home in time Continue reading
Gay, M. (2004). Stella, Princess of the Sky. Toronto: Groundwood Books.
With a multitude of themes to investigate, this book starts with a conversation. Younger brother Sam pelts his older and wiser sister about the sunset, how the sky changes over the course of the day, and where the sun sleeps. The two stay out that night, camping under the stars. They observe the sky above and the animals around them. It evolves into more than Continue reading