March 8, 2016

Mel's MoMa Visit!

So the theme of this week's post is "books Mel bought at the MoMa when she visited NYC last week." Admittedly, it's not the tightest theme I've ever come up with, but hey, why wait?

First up is Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) by Julie Falatko and Tim Miller. This book breaks the fourth wall so many times! I've long been in love with existentialism and meta-humor, and Snappsy totally delivers. Poor Snappsy the Alligator just wants to be left alone to shop for his party. But his pesky narrator won't...stop...talking. And following him. And generally being annoying. So Snappsy decides to take things into his own hands. Will Snappsy escape his narrator's all-seeing eye? The brush, ink, and digital illustrations are bordered by a black line to follow the storybook format, as though we're only getting a peek into Snappsy's world from the narrator's point of view. But here's the best part--that border goes away when the narrator shows up in Snappsy's world! Once she reveals herself to Snappsy, the illustrations stretch beyond the borders of the page, no longer contained by the rigid, storybook format. A fantastic touch by Miller. The ending is too abrupt, as though the final illustration should show us something we're not getting from the text (unless I'm missing something?), but the characters are engaging and the story is extra fun to read aloud with the different voices. And the book cover versus the book jacket?! Amazing.

Next up is Who Done It? by Olivier Tallec. I've actually known about it since it came out, and I wasn't super impressed when I first saw it. I guess I thought the reread value wasn't high enough. But when I saw it again at the MoMa, I flipped through it and was pleasantly surprised. As it turns out, the reread value is decent, but it was more the opportunity for discussion that got me this time around. Although a spread might ask, "Who played with that mean cat?" there's still a ton of room to discuss the other characters on the page. You and your little reader can go through all the characters and breathe lives into each of them. Sure, the girl covered in scratches is the one who "played with that mean cat," but every other character on the page has a story, like the platypus in a snorkel mask or the ballerina bear--what are they doing? What's their relation to what else is happening on the page? Tallec manages to seamlessly weave human and animal characters together, which makes the read even more fun, and though I think the little answer guide in the back is totally unnecessary, the book is a super fun read overall.

Last but not least is The Snow Rabbit by Camille Garoche. A couple of weeks ago I talked about paper theater, and how incredible this style of illustration is. Garoche's wordless picturebook is no exception. Two sisters are watching the snow from their window one day when one of them leaves the house to sculpt a bunny. She brings it back to her wheelchair-bound sister, but as soon as she brings it inside it starts to melt. The two girls quickly move outside when the bunny suddenly freezes, animates, and hops away! The girls work together to follow the rabbit on an imaginative adventure through the snow, and the story proves touching and earnest. The illustrations fill up every part of the page, enveloping readers into the chilly, delicate world Garoche has created and the cutouts are often so large it feels as though readers are right there with the sisters.

Thanks for tuning in! Catch you next week.

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