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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chronicle Book Reviews: Picture Books for Art Lovers

One of the great things about reviewing books is getting a chance to look at books that I wouldn’t normally choose for myself. For example, picture books. I have a small collection of picture books that I’ve bought because of the incredible artwork but these are not books I actively seek—unless I’m buying for my friends’ kids. (Ok, I secretly look at lots of picture books because I like illustration. I even hang out at “Make Things Night” with friends who are illustrators I just a hanger on.)

Raincoast Books recently sent me a couple of new Spring books from Chronicle Books that fall under the “beautiful artwork” category. They also have lovely stories.

Grandma Calls Me Beautiful: picture book from Chronicle BooksGrandma Calls Me Beautiful by Barbara M. Joosse and illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
Team Barbara is well known to me because they previously published a very popular series called Mama, Do You Love Me and Papa, Do You Love Me. These were simple story books about a parents unconditional love. Barbara Lavallee’s watercolour illustrations are spectacular. In this book the setting appears to be Hawaii. I love the way she depicts Hawaiians and Alaskans in her paintings.

Wave by Suzy Lee
No text in this book. It’s a great graphic story book about a little girl playing in the waves. This is a fun book. Simple, beautiful. Black, white, blue and fun all over. I wanted to play in the waves after looking at this book. If I’m not mistaken this is the same Suzy Lee who published a very cheeky book called The Black Bird.

Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosental and Jen Corace
Amy and Jen are the creators of Little Pea, one of my favourite picture books of all time. Little Pea is about a little pea whose parents force him to eat all his candy. It’s horrible: candy for breakfast, sweets at lunch, treats at dinner. Little Pea just wants his veggies. Little Hoot has a similar problem. He’s a little owl and his parents won’t let him go to bed early. Owls stay up late! And that’s that.

Only in Dreams: a Paul Frank Book by Parker Jacobs
Julius the Monkey is brought to life in the Paul Frank Books. I love this monkey. Who doesn’t love monkeys? The colours are bold! In this story Julius is off to dreamland. My favourite page is Julius paddling down a strawberry-milk river, near a frosted-cupcake village. I like this dream a lot.

Chronicle Books isn’t the only publisher with great picture books that take an irreverent approach to kids books. Harcourt Books has a fab book this season too.

Help Me, Mr. Mutt: Expert Answers for Dogs with People Problems by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel
“Are you always in the doghouse? Don’t yelp, get help! Write to Mr. Mutt, Canine Counselor ... Speedy replies guaranteed, complete with diagrams and tips. Help Me, Mr. Mutt is a hilarious collection of letters from dogs seeking advice. Totally brilliant.

Enter the Harcourt Books Contest for a chance to win a copy of Help Me, Mr. Mutt.

Janet and Susan has have an interview about writing the book. Get the inside scoop. Mr. Mutt is super cute. Find out if he or any of the other pups are based on Janet or Susan’s pets.

I love “Little Pea”!

Me too!

Little Hoot is pretty damn good too.

picture books are for people that are still children at heart, like me

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