I confess, this week's review books are all about the illustrators. I loved the illustrations and picked up the books for that. Happily, I loved the stories as well. They are all over the board as far as length and writing style go, but I think they are well worth checking out (I got them from the library, get it, get it?!)
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2013
Lita is one of my favorite illustrators, and I'm more familiar with her more realistic handling of her media (watercolor). She's equally adept at the whimsical. The story is told in nonsensical, sensitive onomatopoeia, truly expressive of the actions. It's an adventure of a purloined, not-so-gently-used red hat, humorous and basically rollicking. The illustrations are charming and fluid, the characters joyous and the simple sounds fun to act out.
Other books by Lita Judge: S is for S'Mores: A Camping Alphabet (Helen Foster, author, 2011); Red Sled (2011); Bird Talk: What Birds Are Saying (2012); Mogo, the Third Warthog (Donna Jo Napoli, author, 2008); Yellowstone Moran: Painting the American West (2009); Born to be Giants: How Baby Dinosaurs Grew to Rule the World (2010); Pennies for Elephants (2009); One Thousand Tracings: Healing the Wounds of World War II (2007); Ugly (Donna Jo Napoli, author 2006); How Big Were Dinosaurs (2013)
Painting the Wind: A Story of Vincent Van Gogh
Kevin Hawkes, illustrator
Bonnie Bash, calligrapher
Little Brown and Company, 1996
A story for an older reading, the story is fiction rooted firmly in fact. Told through Claudine the housekeeper's daughter, it starts at the beginning of the eventful visit of Paul Gaugin, and a tough period in the artist Van Gogh's life. Told with sensitivity and optimism, it strikes a wonderful balance between tragic and purpose and art and life. I have always loved Kevin Hawkes' use of colors and light, and it's exceptional in this book, reflective of Van Gogh's art, and still very much a recognizable piece by Kevin. This book is an oldie but a goodie, but a wonderful introduction to art, depression, kindness for starters for a more mature reader.
Other books by Michelle Dionetti: Coal Mine Peaches (Anita Riggio, illustrator, 1991); Mice to the Rescue! (Carol Newsom, illustrator, 1995)
Other books by Kevin Hawkes: Library Lion (Michelle Knudsen, author 2009); A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea (Michael Ian Black, author, 2010); My Little Sister Hugged an Apple (Bill Grossman, 2008); Chicken Cheeks (Michael Ian Black author, 2009); Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly (Alan Madison, 2012); Sidewalk Circus (Paul Fleischman, 2007)
Testing the Ice: a True Story about Jackie Robinson
Kadir Nelson, illustrator
Sharon tells a warm and intimate tale of her father, his place as a hero in her life and how his accomplishments extended far beyond what she realized. It's a wonderful intersect of the familiar with the extraordinary and an uplifting perspective on an American hero. As to Kadir Nelson's art, I find him one of the most powerful artists working today. His illustrations are monumental in feel without being heavy, too-done or stilted, great design yet still a slice of life. No one does it better.
Other books by Sharon Robinson: Promises to Keep, How Jackie Robinson Changed America (2004); Jackie Robinson, American Hero (2013); Safe At Home (2007); Jackie's Gift (E.B. Lewis, illustrator, 2010); Slam Dunk (2009)
Other books by Kadir Nelson: We Are the Ship: The Story of the Negro League Baseball (2008); Dancing in the Wings (Debbie Allen, author, 2003); Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad (Ellen Levine, 2007); I Have a Dream (Martin Luther King, Jr., author, The Coretta Scott King Award 2012); Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans (Jane Addams Honor Book, award, 2011); Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom (Caldecott Honor, Carole Boston Weatherford, author, 2006); Nelson Mandela (2013); A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis (Matt De la Pena, author, 2013)
Art and Max
Clarion Books, 2010
I have no idea what the links between David Wiesner and me is, and I don't think I want it to stop, but I have to say, I get these great ideas, and find out he's just come out with the book (no, I did not copy dang it) and of course done it magnificently. My caveat, my work-in-progress, Whateverafter, was conceived in 2001, but it has taken me so long to develop the skills and time to render it, his Three Pigs and now Art and Max, will look like I'm derivative. Just means I'm going to have to seriously work to differentiate my great ideas from his great ideas (see I can be taught, it just takes a while).
Max wants to do what Art does, and it all goes crazy wild in the way Wiesner does it. I love his stuff, harkens to all the Chuck Jones silliness, with the delivery of Da Vinci. Nuf Said. I. Will. Own. This. Book.
Other books by David Wiesner: Flotsam (2006); The Three Pigs (Caldecott Medal, 2001); Tuesday (Caldecott Medal, 2011); The Loathsome Dragon (Kim Kahng, author, 2005); Hurricane (2008); Sector Seven (Caldecott Honor Medal, 1999)