Tag Archives: picture book creators
Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a prolific picture book writer. By reading her books, you know she is someone who loves language. You also know she is someone who likes to PLAY with language. She explores words and phrases in the most inventive ways. But those words and phrases are doing something else too. They are making us smile the kinds of smiles that recognize something true.
There’s a little bit of Ruth Krauss‘s understanding of a child’s mind in Krouse Rosenthal’s voice. There’s silliness. There’s smart. There’s hope.
She’s collaborated with Tom Lichtenheld, with Jen Corace, with Scott Magoon. She has done projects like The Beckoning of Lovely. She’s been a guest DJ on my favorite local radio show. She is full of creativity combined with joy.
Come see some of her books!
Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld. In which unseen characters have an argument about what animal they’re looking at. It’s a wonderful way to play with the idea of different and many and varied visual interpretations of the same thing.
this plus that, illustrated by Jen Corace. This one looks at life as a series of non-literal math problems. It teaches as it plays and explores. Some examples of its wisdom: “good days + bad days = real life.” “Practice + practice + practice = mastering.”
Spoon and Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Scott Magoon. The first, a book about longing to be something other than what you are and discovering that being you is pretty cool. The second, a book about finding your independence in order to be an even better companion. And don’t worry, they’re both hilarious too!
Little Pea, Little Oink, and Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace. Each of these is a little animal with a problem every kid can relate to—in reverse. Little pea must finish his sweets! Little Oink must mess up his room! And Little Hoot’s greatest wish is to go to bed early. A way to play with the stuff littles have to do.
I Scream, Ice Cream by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Serge Bloch; The OK Book and Wumbers by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. The first explores “wordles” that sound the same but mean different things. The second takes the idea of OK and makes a character out of it. The third? A gr8 book of word-number brain teasers for the math and language arts crowds.
Exclamation Mark, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. You don’t have to love punctuation to get a kick out of this smart, funny book. The real story is in finding joy in who you are.
Awake Beautiful Child, illustrated by Gracia Lam. This gorgeous book, just out from McSweeney’s, is a child’s day told through A-B-C phrases only Amy Krouse Rosenthal could write and illustrated with Lam’s retro/pastel/inviting artwork. Artful Book Creation!
I have to admit: this is my new favorite AKR book! There’s a sheen to the pages that perfectly complements the magic of the text. First, a boy, then a girl, scenes of home and life all told in three word phrases: “Afraid But Courageous.” “Always Be Curious.”
You just have to see and read it to know how truly special it is. And as a bonus, kid readers are encouraged to hunt for all the things portrayed in the book that start with A, B, or C. Apples on the table! Cactus in the bedroom! Blocks on the floor!
And like all McSweeney’s kids’ books, the jacket folds out to a large-sized poster.
I’m giving away one copy of Awake Beautiful Child to celebrate AKR’s picture book life!
Leo Lionni. We know him for Swimmy and Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse. We know him for his delicate, childlike torn paper illustrations in beautiful, often muted colors.
He was born in the Netherlands and lived in Italy, working as a painter. He moved from Europe to New York because of World War Two. There, before making his first picture book, he was an art director for ad agencies and Fortune magazine.
That first picture book was Little Blue and Little Yellow and he was 50 years old when it was born. I love that.
Little Blue and Little Yellow, the first of many, started from a story Lionni told his restless grandchildren on a train. He tore bits from Life magazine to illustrate it. (His grandchildren weren’t the only passengers who listened to the tale.)
He won the AIGA Medal in 1984 for his contribution to design.
He was also a trout fisherman, just in case you wanted to know that, too.
Illustrations from Fish is Fish (1970)
Here’s Lionni, from the introduction to Frederick’s Fables:
“What tempts, excites, and motivates me is the underlying unity of the arts,
their many surprising connections and cross-references,
and the central poetic charge they share.”
Illustration from Swimmy (1963)
Lionni’s stories are truly fables, illuminated with his signature cut paper collage or pastel drawings. The characters are animals—mice, fish, frogs, snails—and they have stories to tell. To each other and to us. Stories of discoveries. Of kindnesses. Of sharing.
Always a character telling stories to another. Stories of another world. Stories that create community and connection.
Illustrations from Alexander and the Wind-up Mouse (1969)
So often there are doubles in Leonni’s work. Alexander the mouse and his wind-up mouse friend. The two fish in Fish is Fish where one becomes a frog. Birds that can fly and a bird who can’t. And with each pair, there is curiosity about the other. Wishes and imaginings and often coming back to being content with who they already are.
Illustrations from Frederick (1967)
Frederick is an archetypal Lionni dreamer. A poet. A storyteller. One who sees things and tells others about them. Many characters in Lionni’s books are that way. Perhaps because that’s who Lionni was himself.
After his death in 1999, this NYT tribute says the following about Lionni’s artistic journey:
“Seeking a way to combine his applied and fine art work, he hit upon children’s books as the perfect means.
There he found the key to unlocking decades of personal fears, joys, insecurities and loves,
by presenting them through animal metaphors.”
If you haven’t heard of Mary Blair (1911 – 1978), you’ve seen her work. In fact, if you’re familiar with “It’s a Small World” at Disneyland, you know her style. Those striking colors that don’t follow rules. The doll characters that came straight from her illustrations. The flat cut-outs and patterns.
Aside from working with Disney on conceptual art for animated films (Cinderella, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland), Blair illustrated children’s books. Five of them. All Little Golden Books in the 50s and 60s. And those five books are in a compilation! A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books! It’s glorious and I’m giving one copy away at the end of this post! Stay tuned.
Baby’s House (Little Golden Book Classic) written by Gelolo McHugh.
Looking at Blair’s illustrations, I see joy, whimsy, and imagination. Even in the more restrictive era in which she lived, I see a disregard for shoulds and an embrace of coulds.
The baby in Baby’s House plays with dolls and flowered hats AND balls. In fact, I really can’t tell what gender baby is. Which is a good thing!
I Can Fly written by Ruth Krauss (who will get her own post here one day for sure!).
This one is full of coulds and cans! In fact, the I in the book, the little girl, can be like any animal she pleases. My favorite detail is how her outfit and hairdo always mimic the animal she’s mimicking. Look at that white ruffly dress sticking up in the air!
Golden Book of Little Verses written by Miriam Clark Potter.
New Golden Song Book by Norman Lloyd.
The Up and Down Book.
I love Blair’s progression to these super bold, graphic, even sparer illustrations in this one. It’s like she’s turned up the volume on her earlier pastels but they’re still distinctively hers.
If you’re lucky enough to be near San Francisco before September 8th, you can see the Walt Disney Family Museum’s exhibit all about Mary Blair! How I wish I could visit.
The giveaway part!
I’ll contact the randomly chosen winner by email for your mailing address.
(Open to North American residents only—sorry about that, far flung international readers!)
Best of luck and I hope you’ll check out my first two Their Picture Book Life posts if you missed them!
WE HAVE A WINNER! CONGRATULATIONS TO NICK AND THANKS TO ALL WHO STOPPED BY HERE AND ENTERED!