I’m starting a new series here on This Picture Book Life and am super excited about it! It’s called “3 Picture Books” and in each installment, we’ll hear from a picture book creator about three books that influenced her, whether as a child reader or grownup creator. I’m thrilled that Kyo Maclear is here to kick things off!
1. Fortunately by Remy Charlip
I read this book as a child and happily rediscovered it as a grown-up. A masterwork of sequence and full of unexpected plot twists, this strange story has taught me as much about the art of living as it has about the art of picture book writing. Soaring, falling, floating, crashing: our protagonist remains eternally nimble and equanimous, never too fixated on life’s fortunes or misfortunes. Turn the page and everything changes.
2. When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne
When I was six and visiting family in England, my Grandpa Hugh gave this book to me and it has remained on my bookshelf ever since. Milne’s use of repetition and beat make it a perfect read aloud. Also perfect: Milne’s blend of melodrama and humor that manages to both respect and send-up childhood fears. When I was little I often felt an acute sense of responsibility for the wayward adults around me so I particularly loved James James Morrison Morrison who was all finger-wagging, laying down the law, and searching for control in an uncontrollable universe.
3. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
My favorite teacher in elementary school was obsessed with two albums: Blondie’s Parallel Lines and Carole King’s Really Rosie. The latter (which ranks up there with Lead Belly Sings for Children as one of the best children’s albums of all time) inducted me into the delirious world of Sendak. In the Night Kitchen cemented my love. Be weird, be naked, and don’t be afraid to fall headlong into your ‘irrational’ dreams—all good things, I think, for any picture book writer to remember.