Chris Haughton | Candlewick Press 2012
Author of Little Owl Lost, Chris Haughton has published a new book about the travails of an undisciplined hound called Oh No, George! The story is simple—if left alone will a dog do as he says and be good? We know he won’t but we are drawn into the subconscious of George as he struggles with his own canine demons. Many of us say to our dogs, “be good” when we close the door, knowing they are just going to sleep. George does everything you fret except get into the liquor cabinet—but that’s another book. Against his own will, he devours the cake, the cat, and unearths the flowerbed. The fun in this book is Chris’ graphic and expressive style of drawing and coloring with his festive (Mexican) palette and super graphic scale. George is a bad dog, but not without redemption as told in the second half of the book.
The trailer is as cute as the book:
Thanks you Chris for sharing a few of your early sketches in making this devilish hound and strange owner.
If you recall, I designed an animal alphabet called Living Letters based on the Adobe font Critter that I designed 20 years ago. Well, with the brilliant help from the folks at Daily Interactive Networks, we have just released Living Letters for the iPad! I can’t explain it but there is something totally magical about touching the screen and watching a big fat letter turn into a full color critter. You’ll find favorites but I’m partial to the raccoon, the otter and the zebra. It has a sweet little voice that pronounces the animal name, if you choose to turn it on. Also included are a game and a typing keyboard so you can type and send your own words or names. If you upload it, submit your comment no only on the iTunes store but here on 36pages, I’d love to hear what you think!
Michael Bartalos | Viking 1995 | 36 pages
Some authors write stories then figure out how to draw them. My suspicion is that Michael Bartalos created Shadowville in the opposite fashion. This book is chalk full of bold, flat, graphic silhouettes of wacked people, animals and objects—just like his illustration portfolio! This book pays homage to a graphic illustrator’s two best friends—light and shadow. Michael tells us up front that for about 12 hours a day we are going to see shadows—big black stretched renditions of our full color world. Written in rhyme, his tale reminds us to look at shapes in their purist form and then answers the question we might have pondered—where do shadows go the other 12 hours of the day? Why, they go to Shadowville where they appear to have more fun than they do during their day job. Michael draws with tremendous simplicity but skews the scale and shape of everyday objects to become new and delightful depictions. Passengers in a whale’s mouth, elastic athletes, cat chefs, elephant bathtubs and shaving cacti tickle the eye and the mind. Printed on off white uncoated paper and punctuated with muted and sparing color— though it was created in 1995, this book is timeless. I want to go to shadowville!
Antoinette Portis | Harper Collins Publishers 2006
There are two things I’m attracted to in a kid’s book. The first is simplicity and the second is illustrations that tell me that things aren’t always as they appear. Not a Box has both in a big way. Antoinette Portis made a book that does so much with so little. An adorable little rabbit—drawn in a single line—challenges us to think and see outside the box. Absent a storyline, it presents us with a series of challenges to see what the simple box really becomes. Every page has surprise and delight as the black and white drawing becomes a 3-color demo on how to see beyond the box.
Deceptively simple, this is the kind of book that plays to a kid’s strength and helps parents ‘get back’ to that wonderful kid’s place where anything is possible. This book reminds us that big ideas often come in small boxes.
Laetitia Devernay | Chronicle books 2011 | 64 pages
Illustrator and author Laetitia Devernay has created a story worth a thousand words without a peep. The Conductor is a beautiful and beautifully unconventional book. A very tall format signals that this is no ordinary kid’s book—at least by American standards. After all, it was first published in France and picked up by Chronicle as it fits nicely in their aesthetic. Devernay illustrates what can become several stories depending on how it is interpreted, which makes the book quite a bargain! Starting with a conductor scaling a lollipop-shaped tree, this book is all about disconnections that connect and things that become other things with the wave of the baton. I’m a fan of wordless books as it makes the illustrations work harder and leaves the exact story entirely to the reader. The Conductor has obvious connections of birds to music and flight to song—but it also makes subtle inferences to leaders and followers, cooperation and conflict, order and chaos, disturbance and renewal. This is a rich little, tall book.
It is illustrated in delicate pen and ink drawings that are colored sparingly in black, shades of green and custard yellow. The pages are composed elegantly to express scale, pattern and movement. The drawings are both confident and innocent—a marriage not easily maintained for 64 pages.