Monday, November 5, 2012

Jennifer's Book Picks

I've been told that if reading were an Olympic sport, I'd be a gold medalist. So you must know what my favorite time of year at Chemers Gallery is, right? That's right, it's Children's Book Illustration Show time, when we get wonderous artwork and fantastic books from five talented illustrators!

Unusually, this year's book selection is on the serious side, with a great number ranging from historical to biographical to scientific. And oh my goodness, as if choosing my favorite books weren't hard enough already, this year we have almost 70 books to pick from! What is a girl to do? Crack open the books, I guess!

Barnum's Bones
written by Tracey Fern
illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Looking at Bones, mixed media
I loved books about dinosaurs when I was younger - it's a subject that's not just for boys! Barnum's Bones would have been one that my little girl self would have enjoyed. It's all about Barnum Brown, the bone and fossil collector, who discovered his "favorite child," T.rex. He collected bones for the American Museum of Natural History, bringing their collection of dinosaurs from non-existent to the largest collection in the world! Barnum was quite an eccentric and would go prospecting in the desert dressed in suits and occasionally, fur coats. Boris Kulikov's delightful mixed media illustrations capture the excitement of first time discovery and make you feel like you're right there with Barnum and his "favorite child."

Each Kindness
written by Jacqueline Woodson
illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Jumprope, watercolor
The notion that any act of kindness, big or small, can impact the world and make it a better place is a pretty big concept, even for adults. That's why I love Each Kindness, a children's book that doesn't shy away from this lesson and instead shares it with grace and eloquence. E.B. Lewis makes the idea relateable to all ages with his wonderful watercolor illustrations. Instead of the happy ending you might expect out of a children's book, Each Kindness grants us an ending that is sad and cautionary, reminding us that to be kind to others is one of the greatest gifts we can give and one that we should give with unabandoned generosity.

written by Haans Christian Andersen
illustrated by Sylvia Long

Thumbelina in the Mole Hole, watercolor
For all classic fairy tale lovers, Sylvia Long's version of Thumbelina is simply enchanting! Thumbelina is a tiny, thumb-sized girl who is destined for huge adventures. She meets many friends like the kind-hearted field mouse who takes her in over the cold winter, and encounters unexpected foe during her journeys, like her neighbor the mole whom she's expected to marry. Thumbelina eventually finds her happily-ever-after with another tiny, thumb-sized boy. Sylvia's beautiful watercolor illustrations perfectly portray the story and lend an extra layer of magic. Each page is full of details that enrich the experience of reading this familiar tale.

The Lonely Book
written by Kate Bernheimer
illustrated by Chris Sheban

Peering Through Bookshelves, watercolor & Prismacolor
Is it any surprise that one of my favorite books this year is about a book? No, didn't think so. The Lonely Book is a wonderful story about a book that's beloved when brand new, but as time goes on and it loses it's shiny luster people read it less and less. The book feels very sad but then a little girl discoveres it and it becomes her favorite. They are eventually separated but find each other once again with the help of a kindly librarian. Chris Sheban's whimsical illustrations convey the wonder of truly connecting with a favorite book and sharing its story with the world.

written & illustrated by Matt Tavares

Team Picture, watercolor
When you're the shortest baseball player on your team and no one thinks you'll even hit the ball, much less a home run, what do you do? You step up to bat and prove them all wrong! Mudball places us right in the middle of a down by three, bases loaded, one out left game. All of a sudden, it starts to rain. Not just a drizzle, a regular downpour, turning the playing field into mud. Set in the early 1900's, Matt Tavares' sepia-toned watercolors capture the time period and atmosphere of that rainy day to perfection. And, did you notice that Matt is the author and illustrator? Now that's what I call talent!

Which books are your favorites? You still have a few weeks to decide, until close of business November 24th to be exact! Check out this year's Book List, complete with age ranges and pricing, or come on in if you need help choosing.

While you're browsing the books, don't forget to preview the original illustrations, both on our website and in person.

See you soon! 

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