Tag Archives: enchanted lion books
The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy by Beatrice Alemagna (September 2015).
First, the neon pink in this book! You’ll see it on the opening endpapers and it is bright bright bright! Then you can watch for it throughout the story. On little Eddie’s jacket. And then, in the conclusion, on the wonderful fluffy little squishy for which the book is a quest. That neon pink connects these two characters. It tells us they were meant to be united.
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We immediately love and know Eddie because she thinks she can’t do anything (who can’t relate?). And that she has a big heart. When she hears “birthday—Mommy—fuzzy—little—squishy” from her sister’s mouth, she wants to give her mother something very special. She sets off to look for that very fuzzy little squishy thing that she believes must exist.
“The whole book stems from the character of Fluffy. One day, out of nowhere, I drew this kind of electrified dog and I instantly felt the need to tell its story.”
Eddie searches her town, going to store owners who might have just the thing. I love Eddie’s independence and her relationship with the shopkeepers, each of whom gives her something for her journey (a clover, a rare stamp). (Oh, and look out for tiny spots of hot pink on some spreads—I’m looking at you especially, antique shop.) But of course, as in real life, there’s one adult Eddie is not friendly with. Because he’s a meanie! (And kind of scary!)
“I always want to tell the same story: a fragile being that finds great strength within himself.”
And just like those magical times in real life, it is in the moment of wanting to give up that Eddie finds what she’s been looking for. The exact embodiment of those words she heard. Fuzzy and little and squishy (and neon pink!).
Eddie still has obstacles to overcome after that, but with the help her shopkeeper friends’ tokens, she does overcome them. Eddie discovers that she is good at something: finding an awesome gift for her mom.
That Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy and Eddie. They are the heart of this book. And this book has a lot of electric pink heart!
Big thanks to Enchanted Lion Books for those first three images!
This is a book that cries out for a craft. A wonderful fluffy little squishy for your very own! And it turns out hot pink tulle is the perfect material for making one. (If I can make one, that means it’s easy to do too.)
What you need:
A roll of tulle (I found mine at a Joann craft store). Pink!
Two pipe cleaners. Pink!
Construction paper. Pink!
A small pom pom. Pink!
Two googly eyes.
Plus, scissors, fabric glue, tape, and a book. That’s it.
Wrap your tulle around a book (I used the very book!) 20 times. (You can make a smaller fluffball by using a smaller book.)
Slide the oval of tulle off and tie a length of tulle around its middle to make a kind of bow. (Don’t knot it too tightly—you’ll need to be able to stick a pipe cleaner under there later.)
Cut through the rounded parts on each side so the tulle sprays out in all directions, then trim it all around to be a bit more uniform. (You can be messy, which is great. Just be careful as well.) Here’s a tulle pom pom tutorial that may help.
Insert one pipe cleaner into the knotted tulle in the middle of the pom pom. Hook it around and secure it. (Be careful as those pipe cleaner ends are sharp!)
Make the face by cutting a square of pink construction paper and rolling it into a cone; then flatten it. Glue on googly eyes and a pom pom nose. Tape or glue a halved pipe cleaner to the inside of the cone. Insert the other end of the pipe cleaner into the knot of tulle length and secure it carefully so it sticks.
Voila! Wonderful fluffball!
Speaking of pink picture book crafts, you may be interested in my Rude Cakes post.
This is one of those nonfiction books whose facts somehow make me cry. It’s partly the set up in the author’s note that blue whales are few in number due to human activity, from hunting to pollution. But it’s not just that. It’s the way this material is handled—from how the text is constructed to the dreamy illustrations.
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Part of Jenni Desmond‘s originality is how the story appears in the story of the picture book. The boy in the book is reading the very book we’re reading.
But there’s more! He enters the book. There he is, in a dinghy next to a mighty blue whale, staring down in wonder. Because this book is immersive. Immersive in the azure world of the blue whale.
The boy with the red crown is excited about this book he’s reading, excited about blue whales, excited about animals and habitats.
“Every blue whale has unique markings, similar to our fingerprints. Scientists use these, along with the shape of the dorsal fin, to identify individual whales.”
Together with the boy, we learn that baby calves are born 20 feet long and drink nearly 50 gallons of their mother’s milk every day. That whales have a lot of wax in their ear canals. That a single one of their breaths could inflate 2,000 balloons.
Along with the boy, we feel the world open up. It gets bigger and the blue whale gets smaller. Closer. More precious to us.
“A blue whale’s tongue weighs three tons, and its mouth is so big that 50 people can stand inside it. Fortunately, blue whales don’t eat people.”
And that’s how this book works. It brings the boy character inside it, it brings us inside it and conversely it brings the blue whale into our world, right outside our window and in our kitchen.
It’s the perfect kind of nonfiction book that educates while it enchants. It makes us care.
Thanks to Enchanted Lion Books for images!
Jenni Desmond was kind enough to answer a couple of questions about her process of making the book!
This Picture Book Life:What prompted you to write a book about this particular animal?
Jenni Desmond: I didn’t choose a blue whale on purpose, it chose me, by just falling out of my head onto the page one day. Then, the more I drew this beautiful mammal the more I fell in love with it. There is still so much we don’t know about blue whales. I just found them endlessly fascinating and beautiful, and kept wanting to know more. When I showed the rough sketches to my wonderful editor, Claudia, at Enchanted Lion Books, she understood my vision for the book and tirelessly helped me to sculpt it into something much more complex and interesting.
TPBL: You include the book itself in the text and illustrations. How did the idea to do that come about?
JD: I wanted the reader to be aware of the fictional element of the story versus the factual. By having the young boy holding and reading the book, I felt that it would mean that there was a clear divide between the two. The facts could stay as facts, and the reader knew that the inclusion of the boy in the images, when he was interacting with the whale, was purely a result of the boy’s vivid imagination.
TPBL: Boy with red graph paper crown. Go!
JD: I think sometimes non-fiction can feel quite dense and difficult, so I hope that by including the boy, the reader can have a little bit of respite to digest the information while they watch the boy having fun, hopefully even seeing themselves in the boy. I‘m not sure why he’s wearing a crown. Why not. Maybe he’s the king of the book. Maybe he likes dressing up. Maybe it’s just a nice shape and gives a splash of colour to the page. Maybe it’s all of these things.
Thank you, Jenni, both for the interview and for this outstanding book!
I have my own special hold shelf at the local library. They had to give me one to house all the picture books I perpetually have on hold. What a wonderful thing to get all those books delivered for me to take home and borrow for free! Thank you, library and librarians!
These three really struck me as extraordinary in a recent stack.
Come see and I’ll tell you why!
Little Bird by Germano Zullo, illustrated by Albertine (translated by Claudia Zoe Bedrick of Enchanted Lion Books, who published it).
Spare, graphic, spacious illustrations. And same goes the text.
A road. A red truck. A man. A bursting bunch of colorful birds and one black one left behind.
A friendship. A shared sandwich. A change. All because of a small bird and a man who noticed.
“…little things are not made to be noticed.
They are there to be discovered.”
“There are no greater treasures than the little things.”
That line is the theme of this book. But it goes further with the illustrations. Little things are a treasure because of the rewards they contain. And sometimes those rewards are wild and big and magical.
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet.
This is one of those masterful examples of author and illustrator collaboration. It’s a perfect pairing of subject matter and visual style.
This picture book is a portrait of a young mind obsessed with lists, with cataloging things, with finding THE RIGHT WORD. An obsession that continues his whole life.
And the illustrations! Mixed media collage doesn’t describe or contain their wonder. Each illustration is like a box of kept treasures itself. Some have such a depth as to feel completely three dimensionally real.
Botanical. Astronomical. Little notes and watercolor portraits and big ideas.
Breathe by Scott Magoon.
This one is sweet serenity. We follow a baby whale as it plays and swims and breathes. Beautifully, majestically breathes.
The “Breathe” spreads make you take a breath yourself. Stop. Go still. Appreciate. My favorite other page is:
“Listen to the sea. Sing.”
There’s a hint of drama, but mostly one lovely day punctuated by deep breathes above the surface (we could all learn a lot from this little whale!).
It’s a perfect bedtime book with its blue hue, wide expanses of whales and sea, and a slow transition to a dark, serene night.
This is a powerful little book. A wordless book. A book made of cut paper that comes to life. A book that will stay with you as it did with me.
So before I say anything else about it, here are images from inside, in order to give you a taste of the experience of reading it.
Did you feel it? Sadness when the fox looking for shelter is kicked out by the man.
Wonder and hope when the boy sees the fox enter the greenhouse.
And then, surprise when the boy discovers the fox with her cubs!
There’s one more surprise in this book, but I won’t give it away here. Let’s just say it’s called Fox’s Garden for a reason, but not necessarily the one you might dream up. It’s the reason Princesse Camcam dreamed up. And I’m so glad she did. It’s a surprise that promises joy and hope.
This is a book about the relationships of humans and animals. The cruelty that’s sometimes there. Or perhaps more gently put, misunderstanding. And also the connections. The kindness. And who better to rekindle that than a child who still has love and wonder in his heart? (We know he does in part by the many animal artworks that adorn his room.)
I’ve left for last this one’s other magic—its illustrations, each a cut-paper art box photographed for the spreads of the book. They’re intricate still-lifes that make us feel this whole world is real. Because of course it is.
Thanks to Enchanted Lion Books for images!
This film is also French. And it’s about a child and a fox, like the book. It’s beautiful; the landscapes are breathtaking in every scene.
But it’s a heartbreaker. And I’d also say, given some of the horrible things the fox endures and the sheer terror of watching and rooting for her, it may not be for young children. Let’s just say, I wept big, fat, sad tears watching this movie.
But it was worth it.
A 1o year old girl finds a fox in the forest. Patiently, over seasons, she convinces the fox she’s safe (unlike many other humans). They visit. They bond. The girl names the fox. The girl tames the fox.
And it is a beautiful thing to behold. But one fraught with troubles ahead. Because a girl and a fox are not meant to live together, however much they might like the idea. However much they might be friends.
It’s a film to show us foxes in the forest and how they live. And it’s a film to teach us more than that. About kindness. About how sometimes kindness is in keeping an eye out but withdrawing one’s hand.
You could cozy up and read one, then watch the other. Talk about foxes and nature and how to be kind to the world.
I love a book about a book or story or language or reading, don’t you? It’s like a cupcake with extra frosting for bibliophiles. It affirms the things we like while indulging in them.
These two are a perfect pair for that.
A Book Is a Book by Jenny Bornholdt, illustrated by Sarah Wilkins (2013).
I love this one so much. I just reread it and laughed aloud alone in my apartment several times.
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“A book is to read” the first spread tells us. Yup and yes. But a book is more than that too in this whimsical take on the written word and story that’s clearly had input from the real things kids say.
“Reading a book of pictures is still reading.” Word.
“Reading books in bed is great, but not really heavy ones.” True.
“It is impossible to read in the shower.”
“How a book smells depends on what it’s been through.”
This book will charm the pages off you, book lovers!
And we must see more of Sarah Wilkins’s wonderful artwork! We must!
Thanks to Myrick Marketing for images!
This book is mind-bending and I mean that as the highest praise. (Get ready for animals and objects who talk like it’s old hat.)
Here’s how it goes. A boy named Arthur has a fish named Leon who looks like he’s sick and going to die. Arthur’s mother’s solution is to give the fish a poem to revive it. Of course! A poem!
“But what is a poem?”
That’s what Arthur wants to know. And that’s what this book is about. It’s a story about poetry and it’s poetry itself.
When household appliances can’t answer Arthur’s question, he asks other people. They give the most baffling, beautiful answers. They speak of what poetry is to them.
“A poem, Arthur, is when you are in love and have the sky in your mouth.”
“A poem is when you hear the heartbeat of a stone.”
Aren’t those descriptions just gorgeous? And resonant?
And Tallec‘s illustrations so expressive.
Our main character Arthur is perplexed by the stuff people say about a poem. But he listens. He collects that stuff.
He tells that stuff to Leon.
And that stuff is a poem. A poem that heals his fish.
Poetry is pretty powerful stuff.
Thanks to Enchanted Lion Books for images!
MORE PICTURE BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS:
My Pet Book by Bob Staake (2014).
It’s a Book by Lane Smith (2010).
I Like Books by Anthony Browne (1988).
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce (2011).
Got more books about books or reading or poetry? Lemme know!
I received a review copy of A Book is A Book from Gecko Press; opinions are my own.