Thanks to Cathleen Williamson and the Folio Society for sending these great images from Pinocchio. 

PINOCCHIO Copyright © 2013 by Grahame Baker-Smith. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, The Folio Society, London.

Jungle Fever

 A major fall trend in children’s picture books appears to be inspired by (mostly) wild animals .  Below are the leaders of the pack. Be sure to check out the accompanying image posts for great interior pictures! 

image

The Pet Project Copyright © 2013 by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora. Reprinted by permission of Atheneum Books, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

            I asked my parents for a pet.

            My parents answered “Not quite yet.”

            They told me, “Formulate a query.

            Slowly plan your bestiary.”

This pair of clever couplets is a familiar refrain regarding pet ownership and young children. Lisa Wheeler’s scientific book of verse is a paean to every child who wishes for live pet to call her own. The plucky scientist heeds her parents’ requirements and sets out to tabulate, observe and report on all the different creatures she might like to call her own. She visits a farm, the woods, and the zoo, where the undeterred investigator notes her “field observations” in witty rhymes. (“No chocolate in a chocolate Lab? I think I’m gonna cry!”) Children will adore these funny and fast-paced vignettes, especially when the little scientist concludes which pet she would like best. Some poems will be too long for younger readers, but all ages will enjoy the observations in “Guinea Pig.” Zachariah Ohora (No Fits, Nelson!) renders myriad skunks, sheep and hippos in his inimitable style, with acrylic paint on Bristol board. 


“Paul Thurlby’s Wildlife,” by Paul Thurlby; Templar Books, $17.99, 32 pages, ages 4-7. 

image

Paul Thurlby’s Wildlife Text copyright © 2013 by Paul Thurlby. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Paul Thurlby. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

In this latest offering from author-illustrator Paul Thurlby, readers learn all sorts of quirky animal trivia. Polar bears’ fur can turn green from overexposure to algae, a dog’s noseprint is as unique as a human fingerprint, and some monkeys suffer from male-pattern baldness.  As with his previous book Alphabet, Thurlby insures that this dust-jacket doesn’t suffer the rips and tears of careless children; unfold it to find a poster of an elephant taking a shower. The illustrations evoke a vintage, 1950’s vibe – many have an ‘accidentally on purpose’ beat-up look to them – yet all the images in this book are digital creations.  Despite a deceptively simple text to image ratio, adults as well as children will keep finding new elements in the images and the text to discover.  Wildlife would make the perfect housewarming gift to hip, sophisticated families.

 

“Jazzy in the Jungle,” by Lucy Cousins; Candlewick Press, $14.99, 32 pages, ages 2-5. 

image

Jazzy in the Jungle Text copyright © 2013 by Lucy Cousins Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Lucy Cousins. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA. 

Originally published in 2002, Jazzy in the Jungle was recently reissued by Candlewick Press to delight a new generation of Maisy lovers.  The adorable mouse at the head of the eponymous franchise does not appear in this book, which may be good news for parents whose children refuse to read anything other than books featuring Maisy. Instead, author Lucy Cousins introduces Mama JoJo and Baby Jazzy, two lemurs playing hide-and-seek in the jungle. New readers will enjoy participating in this lift-the-flap adventure, although the interactivity of this book is not as engaging as the Maisy First Science popup series. Still, the flaps are easy for very young children to manipulate, and Cousins’ vivid colors and trademark illustration will keep children happily entertained. 

 

 

“Mr. Tiger Goes Wild” by Peter Brown; Little, Brown and Company, $18.00, 48 pages, ages 4-6.

 image

Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown. Copyright © 2013 by Peter Brown. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. All rights reserved.

Mr. Tiger dwells in a proper, sophisticated environment where his fellow urbanites are well-dressed and walk on two legs. One day, Mr. Tiger is seized by a primal urge to abandon his refined ways – as well as his clothes – and lets loose, much to the surprise and dismay of his friends. Mr. Tiger sets aside etiquette and reminds readers that there’s always time for fun in this fast paced romp from city to jungle. Caldecott Honor illustrator Peter Brown used India ink, watercolor, gouache, and pencil on paper, then composited his work digitally. Cityscapes are rendered in tones of dull sepia, while the jungle, is lush and verdant. The quick pace of the text ensures that this will be a read-aloud favorite for a long time.

Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown. Copyright © 2013 by Peter Brown. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY. All rights reserved.


Thanks to Lisa Moraleda in Little Brown’s publicity department for the images! 

uispeccoll:

For Andrew, by request.

Bodin, Jean, 1530-1596.  De la démonomanie des sorciers.  Paris, du Pays, 1581. See it in the catalog

This one has extensive notes at the end of each chapter, an inky thumbprint left by the printer, and strange penciled eyes in the margins.  Has anyone seen those before?

Wilde and Wonderful

“The Selfish Giant and Other Stories,” by Oscar Wilde; The Folio Society, $44.95, 192 pages, ages 13 and up.

image

THE SELFISH GIANT Copyright © 2013 by Grahame Baker-Smith. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, The Folio Society, London.   

Perhaps best known as a playwright and novelist, Oscar Wilde also wrote several fairy tales. The Folio Society has published a new edition that would make an excellent gift to fairy tale fans as well as to those who love a beautiful, well-crafted book.

As with everything published by the Folio Society, the production standards for The Selfish Giant are first-rate. A sturdy metallic silver box keeps everything safe, and beautiful end papers covered in snowflakes set a magical mood. The book is printed on Abbey Wove paper and is three-quarter bound in buckram. (Buckram is a 100% cotton cloth used to cover the boards of the book.) On the cover is an exquisite illustration of the title character looking over a little boy sitting in an ethereal white-blossomed tree.

Grahame Baker-Smith illustrated The Selfish Giant. (Smith was also recently commissioned to illustrate the Folio Society’s 2012 edition of Pinocchio.) During a conversation with the illustrator I asked if he incorporated Wilde’s likeness into any of the images. He did; try to find which one it is in the accompanying image post. The mixed-media illustrations capture Wilde’s wit, yet recall a certain melancholy, suggesting – rightly – that these stories are not for the faint of heart.

British fiction author Jeanette Winterson writes an engaging introduction, giving readers a quick primer on Wilde’s life while intertwining major life milestones with his work. She reminds us that these are not bedtime stories for babies; rather, Winterson declares that these tales ‘tell us what science and philosophy cannot and need not’. As a result these stories deal with themes that young children may not understand.  Still, this is a glorious book, and as Wilde himself said, “With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” 

image

The Selfish Giant Illustrations © 2001, 2013 by Bill Bell All Rights Reserved.

Sky Pony Press has also recently published a version of The Selfish Giant, retold by Mary Hollingsworth and illustrated by Bill Bell. At $14.95, this book is within the purchasing power of most consumers. The acrylic paintings are more whimsical than those in the Folio edition, and more appropriate for a younger audience. Hollingsworth has taken Wilde’s original text and modernized it somewhat, yet the story retains most of what exists in the original.

Here, young readers may better appreciate the story of an inconsiderate giant who chases children from his garden. To make sure the children stay out, the giant builds a wall. Not only are the children banished, so too are the seasons. The Giant is punished for his behavior until something unexpected happens, encouraging the ogre to change.

Unlike the Folio Society’s publication, Sky Pony has published just one fairy tale. It is short enough to be read in one sitting, but it does deal with themes of death as well as the Resurrection.  Avoid reading this story if your child has trouble conceptualizing death, unless this book is to be used as part of a larger conversation about mortality.