Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jennifer's Book Picks

I can hardly believe that our children's book illustration show is almost here! It feels like our last one was just last month instead of last year. Every year, the artwork and book selections get better and better, and this year is no exception. Our 5 talented illustrators will be joined by 3 amazing authors to make 1 exciting event on December 7th. If you haven't picked your books yet, time is running out! You have until November 30th to make your selections. If you need a little help from your friends, here are my personal faves for the year.

Peter Pan: 100th Anniversary Edition
Written by J.M. Barrie
Illustrated by Michael Hague
Wendy Sewing, watercolor, pen & ink
Michael Hague's books are oh-so-classic and I love love love his rendition of J.M. Barrie's tale of Peter Pan. The 100th Anniversary Edition is filled with beautiful artwork right from the title page depicting Peter as a wild-haired boy who is king of his land. Complete with vividly detailed imagery of the Lost Boys, Captain Hook, the Darlings and, of course, Tinkerbell, Barrie's words truly are brought to life once again.

Michael Hague's Read-to-Me Book of Fairy Tales
If Peter Pan is a little too advanced for your reader, why not try Michael's newest book? 14 of the most beloved children's classics were carefully selected and illustrated to form Michael Hague's Read-to-Me Book of Fairy Tales. Lush illustrations accompany the text of "The Little Mermaid," "Sleeping Beauty" and many more well-known stories.

As an added treat, author Kathleen Hague will be joining Michael to sign their book Good Night, Fairies. Quantities of this special book are limited, so make your selections early!

A Christmas Carol 
Written by Charles Dickens
Illustrated by Brett Helquist

Pointing, oil & acrylic
Usually Charles Dickens intimidates me, but not when he's accompanied by Brett Helquist's stunning oil & acrylic illustrations. (Appearing in picture book form sure helps, too!) The familiar story of Ebeneezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet-to-Come are vividly portrayed by Brett's bold colors. This book reminds me of the film version starring George C. Scott, a staple of my childhood holiday traditions! 

From A Series of Unfortunate Events

For older readers, there are a number of wonderful chapter books ranging from The Three Musketeers to the ever-popular A Series of Unfortunate Events. For the first time ever, Brett has decided to sell a very select grouping of original graphite illustrations from the series that launched his children's book illustration career! Also on hand are the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, something I remember reading when I was younger. These books gave me hours of enjoyment and packed a great creep-factor.

Flora and the Flamingo
Illustrated by Molly Idle

Dancing Together, Prismacolor

The more I look at Flora & the Flamingo, the more I find to love. Deceptively simple, each reading reveals a new interpretation. Unique to this year's selection, this is a book without any words. Throughout the story the characters learn to accept one another and dance together. This is also an interactive book with fold-down flaps, which reminds me of animated films (By the way, Molly is a former animator for DreamWorks!) I hear a orchestra in my head every time I flip through the pages.

Tea Rex, written & illustrated by Molly Idle
Molly's been a busy lady this year. Not only has she produced Flora & the Flamingo, she's also written and illustrated Tea Rex and illustrated Zombelina! Girly at first glance, each book has a little unexpected twist. Tea Rex reads like an ettiquette guide to hosting a tea party, and the guest of honor happens to be a T-Rex! For the girl who loves monsters, Zombelina is about a dancing zombie with a case of stage fright.

The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny)
Written by Kathleen Krull & Paul Brewer
Illustrated by Stacy Innerst
Guitar Case Roller Coaster, acrylic on board

The Beatles. What more can you say? How great is it that there's a children's book about such an iconic band? The Beatles Were Fab focuses on how lighthearted and downright funny John, Paul, George and Ringo were, entertaining everyone from the Queen Mum to us Yanks on the Ed Sullivan Show. Stacy Innerst's lively illustrations portray the Fab Four on their journey "to the toppermost of the poppermost." Lifelong fans will adore taking a trip down "Penny Lane""Eight Days a Week!" Authors Kathleen Krull & Paul Brewer will be signing alongside Stacy, and the trio will even give a talk about their collaborative efforts "Across the Universe." (Click here for complete talk & demo schedule!)

One Man Band, from M is for Music
Also in a musical vein is M is for Music, an alphabet book for the musically inclined. I love anything to do with creativity and music, so this book is right up my alley! What I love even more than the text are Stacy's quirky illustrations, some of which were on view at the Chicago Art Institute. Look closely and you'll see that not only has he used paint on illustration board, he's also used pieces of tin to give dimension to his offbeat characters!

P is for Pinata
Written by Tony Johnston
Illustrated by John Parra
Woman Weaving, acrylic on board
There's just something about P is for Pinata that I love. John Parra's folk art illustrations show off key aspects of his Latin American roots that are written in simple verse as well as factual prose. I keep coming back to the image of the woman weaving - that little bee gets me every time! However, my favorite letter is L for Lava and some of Mexico's famous volcanoes. When I was in elementary school I read a story about one of these volcanoes that a local farmer "plowed up" that soon grew to swallow his fields. From then on I was convinced I had a volcano growing under my bed and it kept me up at night. Kind of a strange reason to love the letter L, but then again, that's me.

Round is a Tortilla, illustrated by John Parra
Another great read is Round is a Tortilla. Not only does it teach shapes, it also teaches Spanish words throughout the simple text. Perfect for younger readers, there is a Spanish/English glossary in the back to explain some of the unfamiliar terminology. We just found out that author Rosanne Thong will be joining us the day of the show, too! (She also wrote the popular story Wish, illustrated by Elisa Kleven.)

Don't forget, Saturday November 30th is your last day to pre-order your books! If you need any book recommendations, just ask! For the complete book list, click here.

See you December 7th for the big event!

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