3 picture books: Kyo Maclear

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!


Kyo Maclear (photo by nancy friedland)

Kyo Maclear is the author of several picture books (Julia, Child; Virginia Wolf), including the forthcoming The Specific Ocean and The Good Little Book. She lives in Toronto.









 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.









8210032. 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.








95144 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.







Julia-Child-2You may also be interested in my post on Kyo Maclear’s recent picture book, Julia, Child, illustrated by Julie Morstad. It includes a chocolate almond cupcake recipe from Coco Cake Land!






11 Responses to 3 picture books: Kyo Maclear

  1. Be weird. Be Naked. And don’t be afraid to fall headlong into your irrational dreams. I am taking that to heart. I’m not familiar with the Remy Charlip. Must find it now.

  2. Danzel says:

    This is awesome. I shared it with my daughters. They love Julia, Child and Mr. Flux, and were excited to see that the author loves some of the same books they do. We just read Fortunately a month or two ago, and my youngest used to make us read In the Night Kitchen to her several times a day.

  3. Sarah M says:

    I love that Julia, Child book!

  4. Love your idea for this series!

  5. Love Kyo Maclear’s work (Virginia Wolf is AMAZING) and this new feature! I really enjoy hearing what inspires my favorite authors & illustrators!

  6. Pingback: Childhood Books | Kyo Maclear Kids

  7. Bonnie Eng says:

    What a cool idea for a series! Love to see the author’s inspirations…carries us from past to present. 🙂

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