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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Picture Books: Minimal and Elegant

Some children's books like One Green Apple and Riding the Tiger by Eve Bunting, or Plant a Pocket of Prairie by Phyllis Root, or The Origami Master by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer are packed with thoughtful messages and handpicked words that perfectly convey these messages.

And then, there are a few books that are so simple in concept and yet so beautifully executed that kids and adults can each get something different from it.

Once Upon a Memory
by Nina Laden
illustrated by Renata Liwska

Does a chair remember it was once a tree?
Does the feather remember it was once a bird?

Short, crisp, lyrical text packs warmth and sentiment, while the soft-hued pictures allows us to linger and enjoy each page, each moment captured therein.

The kids tried to come up with their own - Does the fireplace brick remember it was once clay? Does my cotton shirt remember it was once a fluffy cotton boll?

by Rodrigo Folgueira
illustrated by Poly Bernatene

A sweet story about friendship. A piglet squeaks a friendly, "Ribbit!" befuddling the frogs.

Throughout the whole book, when the frogs puzzle over this new visitor, all that the piglet says is, "Ribbit". This frusrtates and aggravates the frogs as they wonder if the piglet is mocking them somehow. The piglet just wants is to be friends, which takes a long time for the frogs to realize.

Never assume the worst, and always have an open mind are two ideas that sprout from this simple tale, looking at the frogs. Of course, the resident six year old wondered why the piglet just didn't come right out and say, "Hey, I just want to be friends." If the piglet could say, "Ribbit" he could have said a bit more to clarify, especially seeing all the commotion he is causing.

A Leaf Can Be . . . 

by Laura Purdie Salas
illustrated by Violeta Dabija

Minimal and elegant, with just a few rhyming words, the various uses of a leaf are showcased in this beautifully illustrated book.
A leaf can be a . . .
Shade spiller
Mouth filler
Tree topper
Rain stopper 
The younger child loved coming up with a few more uses for a leaf on his own, thanks to this book. The fact that a lowly leaf, ignored usually, and mostly unsung except during the bright pageant in fall, takes center stage and shines, makes this a wonderful read.

The bigger delight of this book is the illustrations - magical and gorgeous, simply brilliant.

I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love
by Nancy Tillman  (Author Illustrator)

Nancy Tillman has a series of wonderful books. Being a fan of her illustrations, I linger over every page in each of her books.

There are things about you quite unlike any other...
things always known by your father or mother.
So if you decide to be different one day,
no worries... I'd know you anyway.

Thus starts this wonderful book cherishing the unique things that makes each child special.
If one day we're walking and talking, just us,
when you're abracadabra, a rhinoceros...
I might be surprised, but just for a while...
I'd know it was you by your magical smile.

[image source:]

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