Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jennifer's Book Picks!

Books books and more books! I love books. I love to read. I love it so much that my house is stuffed with books that overflow into every nook and cranny I can find. That's partly why I love this time of year at Chemers Gallery, when we expand into the world of children's literature. The other part is because I love seeing the original artworks used to create the pages in the stories. There's nothing like viewing the original illustrations and then being able to meet the talented individuals who create those stunning visuals.

But back to the books! Here are just a few of my faves...

Once Upon a Time: Traditional Latin American Tales
Written by Rueben Martinez
Illustrated by Raul Colon

Martina the Cockroach, Watercolor & Pencil

I collect books of folk and fairy tales from around the world, so Rueben Martinez's book Once Upon a Time is a no-brainer for me. Filled with Latin folk tales and beautifully illustrated in Raul Colon's signature style, I can just about hear Rueben's voice as I read the stories. My favorite has to be "Martina the Cockroach," the prettiest roach in town who is wooed by Perez the mouse's soft singing voice. Written in both English and Spanish, this is a great book for an older reader.

Fancy Nancy: Aspiring Artist
Written by Jane O'Connor
Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Hanging Pictures, Pen & Ink and Watercolor

As an (aspiring) artist myself, I can relate to Fancy Nancy's desire to turn her clubhouse into an art studio to make "gorgeous works of art." In Fancy Nancy: Aspiring Artist, Nancy spends her spring vacation learning about Degas, Monet and Matisse. She even hosts a Jackson Pollock day! At the end of the week she and her friends stage an artist reception for their friends and family. We see Nancy's artistic development progress through Robin's adorable pen & ink and watercolor illustrations and learn Nancy's fancy words like "beret" and "portrait" in her conversational style.

Camille Saint-Saens's The Carnival of the Animals
Illustrated by Mary GrandPre

Tortoise, Mixed Media

Originally The Carnival of the Animals was composed as a musical suite in 1886 by Camille Saint-Saens. He wrote it to describe various animals in musical form, but only allowed it to be preformed twice in his lifetime so as to avoid hurting his reputation as a composer. It's also thought that some of the movements are written as a parody of certain characteristics of his friends (perhaps the Donkeys of the Wild!). It wasn't until the 1940's that a set of verses were written to accompany the music. This particular edition, complete with stunning mixed media illustrations from Mary GrandPre, comes with a CD of the music so you can have the full experience of sound, text and visual art. What a great idea for a musical piece!

For the Love of Music: The Remarkable Story of Maria Anna Mozart
Written by Elizabeth Rusch
Illustrated by Steve Johnson & Lou Fancher

Maria at the Piano, Mixed Media

For the Love of Music really speaks to me because of my years of singing in a choir. The book is broken up into sections headed by musical terminology and is the perfect book for any music lover. It tells the story of Maria Anna Mozart, Wolfgang's older sister. Although she was a musical genius in her own right, Maria lacked the same opportunities her brother had and much of her life is shrouded in mystery. We learn through Johnson & Fancher's magnificent fabric and paint collage illustrations about the close relationship Maria and Wolfgang shared.

Welcome Home, Mouse
Written & Illustrated by Elisa Kleven

In the Store, Mixed Media

Welcome Home, Mouse snuck up on me but it's turned into one of my favorites. Stanley is a very clumsy elephant with an enormous heart. It's not hard to feel for this little guy - all he wants to do is help, but he just can't help knocking over wedding cakes or breaking little mouse houses in the process. When Stanley's mother sends him to the store for more tomatoes, he meets Mouse when he accidentally breaks her humble abode. He feels so bad that he sets about making amends in the sweetest of ways. Elisa's charming illustrations are a perfect match to this adorable story.

Don't forget! You have until November 26th to pre-order your books, or until each illustrator has sold 200 books, whichever comes first. The deadline is fast approaching, so hurry in. You don't want to miss out and you for sure don't want to see how stressed out we can get! We can help you choose which books to order and we'll even take care of having them signed and dedicated for you. For a complete book list, follow this link. To check out the artwork for all the illustrators, just click their names and pictures above.

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