An illustration I got to do for the extremely cute and well designed magazine LMNOP. It was a great assignment, the focus being on libraries and books. Since I frequent the library almost as much as a 13 year old frequents You Tube, I've come up with some observations. Namely being the noise level. Libraries are just so cool now-with crafty interactive a-la Melissa and Doug puzzle/castles/installations. There are toys. EVERYWHERE. Puppets, blocks, swirly things that I thought existed only in dentist offices. And the trains. Kids go into mini-seizures when there is new Fergus, Benedict, Rutger (whatever) train on the train table. Sprinkled and tucked amidst the playtime chaos are the books. Books just laying around, asking to be read. "That kid take your puppet? Forget-about-it...Read me instead", "Hey! Hey! Little girl with the tiara! I'm the new Tangled book!" I think that the librarians love the noise (to a certain decibel) because kids are developing an association between libraries and fun. It's probably in some Library Manifesto to put up "quiet" signs, merely just for show.
If you could incapsulate all the preadolescent angst of fear, friends and first love into the form of a minimalist illustrative cat and bunny, the distilled product would be in the form of a picture book. Specifically - it would be Henry in Love.
This is another library gem that I found and sub-sequentially purchased. In order for me to actually buy a book I have to LOVE it. You could say I fell in love with Henry in love. Hahaha I know, my wit knows no depths. But aside from my cleverness Peter McCarty has so masterfully taken a day in the life of a (cat) boy (not sparing the morning routine), his encounter with his first love and the sacrifices one makes for love.
The illustrations are delicious. Simple shapes, simple line drawings with spots of color which make a great impact. The writing is spot on, simply stated to express so much unspoken emotion.
So yeah - I loved this book and bought it. I wager to think that Amazon.com could feel my love through its sequence of ones and zeros because when I received it the first bookend sheet had this...
How freaking awesome is that?
Now run along and pick up a copy. Run as if running toward your true love.
There seems to be a reoccurring pattern that takes place on my kids' floor. We go to the library once a week, check out a gaggle of books, then return them the following week. Well, almost all of them get returned. Inevitably there are one or two that we (mostly me) just can't part with. There this book rests on the carpet of the kids' carpet, and each time we enter the room a joy surges through us, knowing it is still here to be visually devoured. Unconsciously we have taken on an ownership of these books, feeling as though they will disappear forever into the dark void of the book-drop slot. One book that is now overdue is Judy Sierra's The Sleepy Little Alphabet with the funniest illustrations by Melissa Sweet. Each little lower case letter has it's very own unique personality as it fights the nightly battle of having to go to bed. My 5 year old has started to memorize some other letters' personality, shouting to me through the house "Mom! Look at me! I'm 'O'! While my little 2 year old looks at the K and L page and screams "Don't turn off the lights!", which is little "L's" line.
So yet again because of a good book I am paying overdue fines, but can be easily justified by telling myself I am supporting my local public library.
Oh Marc Simont, you've stolen my heart!
How this all began...
My 4 year old daughter Lily has been diagnosed (by me) to have an obsessive compulsive disorder regarding dogs. So needless to say, when we venture into the library, she makes a bee-line for the toys with the understanding that I am left to check out every dog themed picture book ever published. Let me be clear- I love my daughter but I do not love dogs. I am not a dog person. I'm a people person. People are funny and fun to draw. Dogs smell and shed excessive amounts of oily hair. So you can understand my lack of enthusiasm when searching through the stacks for yet another Rover, Bozo, Spot, Pancake whatever - dog book. But it seems my luck had changed when I came across The Stray Dog by Marc Simont. It, I think, is as close to a perfect picture book as you can get. It's a great blend of cute dogginess and amazingly observed people. Simont is great at capturing those moments that seem so often overlooked. And how could you not love a dog digging in the trash.