Tag Archives: picture book author
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 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.
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.
You 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!
mary lyn ray’s picture book life
Mary Lyn Ray. Picture book author. Conservationist. Huge inspiration.
Ray’s books are special to me. And I doubt I’m alone in that. They’re special period. Lyrical, lovely, connected to the earth and community.
I consider her the Barbara Kingsolver of children’s literature. Wendell Berry comes to mind too.
Many well-known picture book creators are author/illustrators, for good reason. So when an author on her own is well-known, someone illustrators want to partner with, that’s a big deal. It means they know how to do it just right.
Pumpkins: A Story for a Field illustrated by Barry Root (1996).
A man, a field to save, and magic. With pumpkins, of course. It has all the ingredients of a modern day fairy tale.
(I posted about Pumpkins last fall with my staple pumpkin muffin recipe that I really need to make again.)
Go to Sleep, Little Farm, with art by Christopher Silas Neal (2014).
In which everyone prepares for sleep in their own way.
Christmas Farm, also illustrated by Barry Root (2008).
A woman and a five year old neighbor start growing trees. Five years later, the trees are ready to spread good cheer. And so are they.
Stars, illustrated by Marla Frazee (2011).
A poem that thinks like a kid. It’s perfect. Stars in the sky, in your pocket, on the calendar to mark a special day. Stars. Are and Is. Beautiful.
Welcome Brown Bird, illustrated by Peter Sylvada (2004).
Leave it to Mary Lyn Ray to write a book about the migration of birds that is poetic and moving enough to make you cry. (Me cry, anyway!) Two boys in different parts of the world both listen to the same brown bird singing in different places, at different times of year. Both are connected to that bird even though they will never know each other. Goosebumps.
Mud, illustrated by Lauren Stringer (1996).
Celebrates all things spring, especially squishy brown mud to play in.
Deer Dancer, also illustrated by Lauren Stringer (2014).
A young dancer is told to hold her head like she wears antlers. To listen with her cheekbones. Then she meets a deer who shows her how. These two make a beautiful dancing pair out in the green grass, in stillness and leaps and circles.
Mary Lyn Ray’s wonderful books touch on seasons, nature, and animals. And using those elements, each of her stories hits home.