February 21, 2017

It Runs in the Family

There are some pretty quirky picture book families out there. But the family that quirks together, stays together, right? 

One of the most exciting parts of these books is that we see such a wide variety of family dynamics in them. In Suzy Ultman's board book Masha and Her Sisters, we meet a very small, quirky family in the form of pen-and-ink Russian nesting dolls. We meet Masha, Larisa, Olya, Galya, and Natasha as we flip through the vertically-bound pages, each sister textually and visually displaying a unique and distinctive set of hobbies. For example, we learn that Olya is the chef, but we can also see her interest in food based on how her body is decorated. And Ultman makes sure to decorate the backs of each doll as well -- no detail goes unembellished. The five sisters complete each other (familiarly and physically) in absolute synchronicity, demonstrating the balance they have in their little family.
In Maude, the Not-so-noticeable Shrimpton by Lauren Child and Trisha Krauss we witness a very different family dynamic. The Shrimptons have one goal in life: to be noticed. Everyone goes out of their way to parade around with as much flair as possible. Everyone, that is, except for Maude. Maude prefers to blend into the background. And ultimately her attitude saves her life.

I CANNOT believe I only just read this book a few weeks ago!! This book shows us a family in which not everyone is the same, and the perils that befall the family that isn't in sync. The story is clever and funny and beautifully illustrated with watercolors used in a way I've never experienced before. And the ending is a riot. 

In The Insomniacs, written by Karina Wolf and illustrated by the Brothers Hilts, we see a family that is completely in sync with each other, but totally out of whack with the rest of the world. When Insomniac family moves from one end of the world to the other for Mrs. Insomniac's job, the aptly-named family finds themselves unable to adjust to their new timezone. The family works together to find their place in their new home (with unexpected results), but because they search for a solution together, they find the perfect solution to their predicament.

A standout literary family is, of course, the Liszts from last year's picture book smash The Liszts, written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Júlia Sardà. But I've talked about that book soooo much (see Best of 2016, an interview with Júlia, and a review of the book last year) that I wanted to make sure I include others on the list. But just know, that one remains at the top of my quirky families list now and forever (hence why I included it in the feature image for this post)...

What other quirky picture book families are there out there?

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