August 26, 2013


Hello web followers! I'm super excited about today's post, nonsense picturebooks, so I'm just going to dive right in.

The first book on today's agenda is The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine: Or the Hithering Thithering Djinn by Donald Barthelme, a National Book Award-winning picturebook about an adventure on par with Alice in Wonderland. From the back cover:

"One morning in 1887, Mathilda went out into the back yard and discovered that a mysterious Chinese house had planted itself there overnight. She had wanted a fire engine, but the mysterious Chinese house was intriguing too. From inside came strange sounds: growls, howls, whispering, trumpeting."

I found this picturebook at The World's Only Curious George Store down in Harvard Square about a year ago, and I was totally enthralled by its quirkiness and nostalgic imagery. Here are some spreads (please forgive the terrible picture quality):

August 19, 2013

What Happens Next?

So I went over to the Harvard Book Store the other day, and normally I only allow myself to go downstairs to the bargain section, but somehow I allowed myself to go the the children's book section in the back. Needless to say I left the store with more books than I can probably afford. On the bright side, though, the books actually happened to fit a very similar theme, thus giving us this week's topic...

What happens next?

One of these books is Where Do We Go When We Disappear? by established duo Isabel Minhós Martins and Madalena Matoso. It came out at the beginning of this month, and it's no surprise that it's been getting good reviews: the book explores the question of what happens when a person, the sun, and even socks or snow disappears. As explained by the author to Publisher's Weekly:

"Most of the time we don't go very far. We are just around the corner. Lying hidden, with our eyes wide open, waiting to be found...We say without thinking, 'Oh look, the sun is rising.' But to the sun it's us that disappears and then rises again."

"What happens next?" is a fascinating concept a lot of picturebooks authors are timid to address. And it's no wonder, it's a heavy topic. Martins and Matoso handle the question beautifully, though, and while the text asks the big questions, the illustrations pull at the borders of the pages as though trying to pull the unknown closer.

August 12, 2013

Illustrator Spotlight: Poly Bernatene

I hope everyone had a good two weeks! I'm proud to say that after moving all of my possessions, two cats, one dog, and hundreds of picturebooks I'm finally settled (well, as settled as someone like me can be) in my new place. It was grueling, but one awesome part was that in moving all of those crates full of books I naturally came across a few that I totally forgot I had. Which brings me to how I rediscovered and re-fell-in-love-with Poly Bernatene. His versatility is quite impressive: he has illustrated a handful of picturebooks with a wide range of artistic style, from lighter illustrations with almost cartoonish characters, to darker ones with eerier, sketchier characteristics. Again, quite an impressive range.

The first book of his that I ever bought was The Princess and the Pig. The book tells the story of Priscilla and Pigmella, a princess and pig, respectively, who are accidentally switched at birth. It's a great fairy tale picturebook with a comical edge to both the text and the illustrations.

August 5, 2013

Where's the Post?

As much as it pains me, I must skip this week's post. I know it's terrible, but please try to control yourself.

This past weekend I moved to a new house (two cats, one dog, and one roommate in tow) AND threw an amazing bridal shower for my best friend. Needless to say I'm EXHAUSTED, and I haven't even had time to unpack my books yet. So sad.

Check back next week for an all-new post, and Happy August!