Saturday, February 3, 2007

Three Picture Books

I've had three picture books, or children's books if you may, sitting on my bookshelf for quite some time now. I hadn't gotten around to reading them yet, so I figured I'd devote my reading to those tonight. Every now and then I love to go back to the early days of reading.

The first book was The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean. What a wonderful little book! The Wolves in the Walls is about what may be behind those things that go bump in the night. It's the story of a young girl named Lucy who hears wolves in the walls. Of course, her parents don't believe her until the wolves come out, and then all hell breaks loose. This is a great book for children who are afraid of night time noises. It shows that the source of the noises may be just as scared of you as you are of them. It's beautifull illustrated by Dave McKean. Like The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish, The Wolves in the Walls can easily be mistaken for an art book. I don't think there's a better Writer/Artist duo than Gaiman and McKean. If you haven't already read this one, do yourself a favor and give it a read. There was a play put on not too long ago that was based on this book and unfortunately I didn't get to see it as it didn't come anywhere near New Orleans. I would've really enjoyed that.

The second book was Magic Mirror by Orson Scott Card, illustrated by Nathan Andrew Pinnock. This one was very strange, very different. It's subtitled "a fable for adults." Without the illustrations, this book would have been lost. Neat idea though. The story is about a queen, a king, and their son and daughter. The queen feels alone and turns to her magic mirror where she sees images from other worlds, other peoples lives, and the goings on of others. One day she sees a particularly disturbing image that drives her to an almost unfortunate fate, but her children intervene. So you're thinking medieval times, right? Well the illustrations make this not just another magic mirror fairy tale. The illustrations show medieval times, but mixed in there is modern society. The magic mirror is a sort of computer screen showing her news from the world and videos of other's lives. The castle has a remote controlled garage, the daughter is a modern day goth, and sea shells are cell phones. The illustrations are not really my cup of tea, but their substance adds to the story. While it is certainly not the best or most well known story of Card's, it's still worth the read in my opinion. It's very unique.

The final book of the night was Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. This is one of my all time favorite children's books. I remember vividly reading this book as a child. I must have read it a hundred times, and it still makes me smile when I read it today. It is the story of Harold, a boy with an extraordinary imagination. Harold creates the world around him with a purple crayon. He leaves his room one night and goes on an adventure led by his imagination and a crayon. The illustrations are so simple, yet capture the imagination of a child so well. I got this book for Christmas from my sister and was so happy to have it again. I lost my original copy when my house flooded in 1995. This is definitely one that I will hold on to for my children one day. It's one of those classics that will always remain relevant.

So that concludes my picture book reading. Give any of these a whirl if you're in the mood for something light and enjoyable. Take yourself back to the innocence of childhood. And now, back to Charles de Lint's Greenmantle.


Literacy-chic said...

My list would include, in the postmodern category: The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (Chris Van Allsburg's best), The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf, both by the duo of Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. In the classics category, who could forget Where the Wild Things Are?

Great choices, btw! ;)

Chris said...

I know, I almost started writing about Where the Wild Things Are, but decided to save that for later. I love the Stinky Cheese Man!

Carl V. said...

Wolves in the Walls is such a fantastic little book. Love both the illustrations and the story. I also love how the pig was inspired by McKean's child's stuffed animal.

The Scieska/Lane books are great!

Another really fantastic children's book author/illustrator is Shaun Tan. I highly recommend getting ahold of some of his books.

Anonymous said...

I love Harold and the Purple Crayon it was one of my favorites as a child. My children love it too, they aslo love Kathy Ireland's books What do Mommies Do, Mona's Favorite Word and An Angel Called Hope.

Chris said...

Carl, I'll have to check out some Shaun Tan books. Children's books are definitely a guilty pleasure of mine ;)

Jackie, Thanks for visiting. How can you not love Harold! Glad to see your children enjoying it as well.

Carl V. said...

The Red Tree:

is definitely my favorite Shaun Tan book. It is especially poignant if you work with kids, in my opinion. When I first got it I passed it around to many of the therapists at work and they all loved it.

Chris said...

Awesome! Thanks Carl. I googled some of his images yesterday and they're great. I'm gonna pick up the Red Tree.