Category Archives: picture books for pairing
I’m super excited that YiLing Chen-Josephson from The Picture Book Club is here to share picture books about mail. It’s a fitting post because the subscription service is all about two wonderful things: books and mail!
YiLing, take it away!
There has never been a time in my life when I haven’t loved mail. I can still remember what day of the week each of the family’s magazine subscriptions would arrive, and the names of all the companies — many long since shuttered — whose catalogs I would pore over. As I got older and started to write and receive letters of my own, the prospect of mail took on a whole new richness of anticipation.
YiLing Chen-Josephson reads hundreds of picture books every month. Her favorites make their way to other families via The Picture Book Club, the subscription service she runs. The Picture Book Club offers completely customizable subscriptions as well as themed packages such as Around the World in 12 Books and the Big Sibling Book Bundle. Before launching The Picture Book Club, YiLing worked as a writer, an editor, and a lawyer. She lives in NYC with her family and many, many books.
This Picture Book Life readers get $5 off any purchase at The Picture Book Club with the code, “Dd.” Hooray!
I’ve been wanting to put together a list of recent (published in the last couple of years) picture books that fall into the fairy tale, folk tale, fable, or myth categories and are also first-rate. And here it is!
The Night Gardener by The Fan Brothers. Grimloch Lane is forever changed by the gardener who shapes trees into whimsical animals overnight. And so is young William.
Bloom by Doreen Cronin and David Small. An unusual fairy, a girl, a kingdom in disrepair, and mud. This tale tells us: “…there is no such thing as an ordinary girl” and that magic can be found in the most commonplace materials and in the willingness to be open and work hard.
The Only Child by Guojing. Wordless with expressive drawings and lots of wonder, this reminds me of the kind of story a child might invent for herself or dream about.
The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakashi. A contemporary fairy tale complete with a girl’s trek through the woods to her grandmother’s house. But the animal characters aren’t scary in this one—on the contrary, they’re magical, welcoming, and have plenty of pie to share.
The Song of Delphnie by Kenneth Kraegel. A bit of a Cinderella in the savannah story, Delphine the palace servant’s singing attracts giraffes to her window each night. It also brings her freedom.
The Ugly Dumpling by Stephanie Campisi, illustrated by Shahar Kober. A dim sum restaurant take on “The Ugly Duckling” that’s substantial and sweet! (See Bonnie from Thirsty for Tea‘s recipe from my original post on the book here.)
Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans by Phil Bidner, illustrated by Jake Parra. The inspiring story of a large-spirited person who cleaned the city with purpose and pizazz before the storm and helped piece it together after.
Abukacha’s Shoes by Tamar Tessler. The quirky collage illustrations really shine in this passed down folktale about a man whose discarded giant shoes always return to him. It’s special in part because the historical photos included are of the author/illustrator’s family members who perished in the holocaust as a way to honor their memories.
The Tiger Who Would be King by James Thurber, illustrated by Joohee Yoon. This fable features a tiger who’s thirsty for power at any cost. It’s boldly illustrated and doesn’t shy away from vivid and violent (though stylized) depictions to make its point about the futility of contests and war.
Louis I, King of the Sheep by Olivier Tallec. A lighter take on the lure of power. A paper crown blows onto Louis the sheep’s head while going directly to his head.
Tokyo Digs a Garden by Jon-Erik Lappano and Kellen Hatanaka. An environmental fable/fairy tale about cities and nature and how to balance both. Also, magic beans. (I interviewed both author and illustrator here.)
Echo Echo: Reverso Poems about Greek Myths by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josée Masse. This series of poem-pairs is quite a feat! The first tells the story from one character’s perspective and the next reverses the lines to tell the story from the other’s.
From Wolf to Woof: The Story of Dogs by Hudson Talbott. A “myth of origin” (based on research) about how wolves were tamed, developed a symbiotic relationship with humans, and became the dogs we know and love today.
Your turn! Any recently published fairy tales, folk tales, myths, or legends to add to this list?
These picture books explore opposites, but not just in terms of stripes or colors, in terms of characters as well. And in both cases, they not only show us what it means to be opposite—horizontal or vertical; black or white—they demonstrate the saying that opposites do, in fact, attract!
Mister Horizontal & Miss Vertical by Noémie Révah and Olimpia Zagnoli (2014).
(click image(s) to enlarge)
Two characters, one drawn to tall, the other to long. Miss Vertical is a fan of elevators, hot air balloons, and bungee jumping. Mister Horizontal likes scooters, naps, and the ocean. And yet, they’re a perfect match.
This is a wonderful book to illustrate a concept, which is a great skill on its own. But it’s so much fun along the way, thanks in large part to the poppy design that dances on the page in all directions. So bold. So graphic. So Olimpia Zagnoli!
Miss Vertical’s gestures are straight and up and down. Mister Horizontals are curved and round. Together, they’re an X and O.
That’s my one of my favorite spreads, Miss Vertical dangling from a tree, the forest background a lot like her shirt. And the perfect pop of red shoe.
The story was inspired by this photograph by René Maltête. So in a spoiler alert, these two have a child at the end of the book. And the child isn’t exactly like mom or dad. Nope, neither type of stripe will do!
Big thanks to Enchanted Lion Books for images!
Black Cat, White Cat by Silvia Borando (2014).
And now, another kind of opposite! Black and White cats, from the tips of their noses to the tips of their tails. And they like opposite settings, which help them stand out—night and day!
Black Cat likes daytime, when dark-colored swallows soar. White Cat likes nighttime, when bright stars twinkle. But they’re not stuck in their ways. They’re curious cats, adventuring into the reverse unknown.
And there, on the way to new things, they meet. I imagine it’s dusk, but it could be sunrise too. Each experiences new things: fireflies and bumblebees. They discover how much they like to be together.
And at the end, six kittens! And neither black nor white at that. You’ll have to read the book to find out their colorful surprise! (Hint: it’s not a tomato and tasty as juice.)
A pair of picture books. Two love letters to contrast.