May 26, 2014

Chapter Picturebooks

There are a handful of picturebooks out there that serve as a go-between for picturebooks and early readers. Let's call them Chapter Picturebooks--they look and feel like picturebooks (same size, layout, etc.), but they have multiple chapters that break up the narrative like early readers. It's fun because you get more of the story, and the early reader appearance helps child readers feel more accomplished by the end of the book (a whole chapter book!).

First on today's list is Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator by the ever popular Mo Willems. The book features 6 1/2 chapters about Amanda and her stuffed animal bestie Alligator. But when Amanda brings home another stuffed animal, jealousy colors their friendship. I believe it's one of Willems' better books, with textual and visual whimsy that makes the book an excellent read aloud.

May 19, 2014

Fragmented Narratives

Within four months of each other, two beautiful books were published recently that have made me rethink the importance of cohesion in narrative and illustration. Blexbolex's Ballad and Magali Bardos' 100 Bears both strongly recall one another: both have non-traditional narratives with eye-catching, silk-screened illustrations, and both tell multiple stories over the course of their narratives that inevitably weave together by the end of the book. I say non-traditional narratives because every new page features a fragmented sentence (sometimes only one word) that builds on the last sentence or word. Every page builds on last, and the textual and visual narratives each book creates are absolutely stunning.

Ballad is written and illustrated by the amazingly talented French comics illustrator Blexbolex. He has a smattering of children's books, but Ballad definitely stands out as a work of beauty. Ballad tells the story of a boy who walks home the same way every day from school, but one day his world expands rapidly, growing into a fantasy with witches, princesses, and reluctant heroes.

May 5, 2014


We all know Where's WaldoI Spy, and Magic Eye by now, but there are some beautiful (and more modern) seek-and-find books out there.

If you follow this blog even a little bit, I'm sure it comes as no surprise that a Germano Zullo-Albertine collaboration is at the top of the list. At the Seaside is a fun, quirky, and wordless seek-and-find boardbook with seven huge spreads that are chock full of crazy scenarios and characters, including a trio of aliens, a movie star and her stalker, and a couple who didn't know they'd be finding love by the end of the book. Although there's a ton going on in each illustration, the back cover showcases the main characters of the story so readers can better follow the main story lines. My personal favorite? The mermaid who goes from a mermaid to a towel to a blow up doll to...well you'll just have to read to find out!