June 30, 2014

Mel-Mel Moves

Hi all!

I'm moving over the next couple of weeks, which means picturebooks are in boxes. But new posts to come soon, and remember to catch up on the posts you've missed!

Have a great fourth of July to those in the States!!


June 23, 2014

Illustrator Spotlight: Émilie Vast

I figure since I haven't done a lot of illustrator-specific posts lately so you get two in a row!

Émilie Vast is a French author/illustrator whose books I came across accidentally a few months ago (for the record, between getting the books in my hands and writing about them, almost everything takes at least 2-3 months. Insane, right??). Her work is clean, colorful, and very interactive, beckoning readers to really set aside time to read and play with his books. I currently own two, and French translation aside, I still read them half a dozen times to catch all the details. You can see her site here to check out her full list of picturebooks, but today we're chatting about Océan le noir et les couleurs (Ocean Black and Color) and Il était un arbre (There Was a Tree).

June 16, 2014

Illustrator Spotlight: William Bee

One of the illustrators I discovered on my little hiatus from a few months ago is William Bee. I read the book Whatever, and it was like a revelation. The perfect combination of wit and intelligence in both his text and illustrations, this book was definitely a game-changer for me. The book tells the story of a boy named Billy who is apathetic about everything his father tries to get him interested in. Until he's no longer in a position to be apathetic...

As someone who tends to struggle with digital illustration and its contribution to the world of children's illustration, I found the drawings to be engaging, colorful, and witty. Take a look at Whatever:

June 9, 2014

French Trees!

There are so many beautiful books that center around trees. It's almost as though the tall, skinny picturebook was INVENTED to talk about trees: the trees can start at the very bottom of the page and extend all the way up, letting their leaves extend outward to the left and right corners of the book. Literal growing room. Today we're getting very specific: French trees, namely because I happened to acquire all of these books around the same time.

First for today is Laetitia Devernay's wordless picturebook The Conductor. A beautiful juxtaposition of nature and music, a man sits atop a tree and conducts the leaves in a visual magnum opus. Every page turn shows the leaves following the direction of the conductor, the leaves and nature surrounding him swirling together to create a visual masterpiece. The leaves take on lives as their own, appearing as almost bird-like creatures and creating a sense that the whole spread is alive with movement. Like the other two books below, this one heavily features a need for humans to continue planting trees to prevent the inevitable destruction of the world's forests.

June 2, 2014

Birds of a Feather

So I figured when I bought two books about birds it was probably a sign that I should create a bird post...

Today we start with Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth. The book is set up like a catalog from 2031 that offers handcrafted bird parts for customers to assemble. Birds are close to extinction in this time period, but Aviary Wonders Inc. offers customers a chance to purchase a completely unique bird (they can choose from bodies, beaks, legs, even crests) that they can teach to fly and sing. The book is beautifully illustrated with a fascinating array of information on current (as in 2014) birds and extinct birds, and it offers a subtle reminder about the birds that are on their way to extinction. I'm giving you some extra photos of this one just because each page is so different.

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!

April 7, 2014

Animal Information

Today's topic is a little less cohesive. I found a few great books containing information on animals that have fantastic illustrations, not to mention an engaging way to learn about animals, numbers, and letters. I'm just going to dive right in.

First we have Marije Tolman's Jumping Penguins. Just from the cover it's a fascinating book: it's an over-sized book with no title or author listed. No information on the cover indicates what kind of book this is, except for the giant pile of animals: