A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
It’s been a while since I sat and read through my Picture Book shelf. (Yes, I have a Picture Book shelf, what of it?) There’s something so wonderful, even as a fully fledged grown-up, about reading through these expertly formed stories one after the other. They capture a moment, a mood, an experience so perfectly in such a short space and you can go from laughing hysterically to sobbing uncontrollably within minutes.
So I thought what I’d do today was pick out a few of my current favourites from my shelf. These aren’t new releases, but they’re pretty recent. And even though they are all quite different, they rouse some powerful emotions with very few words and illustrations.
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers
I’m not quite sure how to even begin showing my love for The Day the Crayons Quit, I don’t want to scare everyone away! I shall try and remain calm and rational and objective, but oh, oh, oh, you really have to go out and find this book!
Duncan is in class, he goes to take out his crayons and instead finds a pile of letters. Each letter is from a different colour of crayon. Each letter tells Duncan EXACTLY why they have quit their job as his crayons, what their problem is and more importantly, what Duncan needs to do to fix it. Some letters are furious, with underlines and CAPITALS and !!!!! marks. Some are apologetic, some apoplectic. One or two don’t really have a problem per se but are showing solidarity to their crayon friends. One is merely embarrassed.
This is one of the most joyous picture books I have seen in a very long time. It’s utterly original and often hilarious. When Beige states clearly, “I am BEIGE and I am proud” and asks when was the last time you saw a kid excited about colouring in wheat. Orange and Yellow are fighting over which is actually the real colour of the sun which is completely traumatising Green, who is in all other ways pretty happy with his life. Blue just needs a break.
It’s so difficult to convey all the magical pages of this book without wanting to just sit you all down and read it to you from cover to cover. (I am happy to do this any time, just let me know when you’re coming) So I would suggest setting out to your nearest Bookshop and doing it for yourself. I promise, you’ll not be able to leave the crayons in the shop!
Shouty Arthur by Angie Morgan
Often books speak to us because they reflect our own experiences and I would say that Shouty Arthur spoke to me because of just that. Edith is reading her wildlife book and her younger brother Arthur wants to get involved. She initially tells him to go away but eventually relents and explains all about the wildlife to him and they decide to go looking. She packs them some lunch and Arthur excitedly packs his sword. Arthur is incredibly and loudly excited. Edith calmly reads her wildlife book to Arthur, giving him all the information about each animal. Arthur runs about, brandishing his wooden sword yelling, “Come out, you old rabbits!” Needless to say, unless Arthur is very quiet it’ll be a disappointing wildlife hunt.
I adored this story. It very much reminded me of when my kids were small. One patiently trying to involve the other (less patient one) in their hobby, it’s such a warm story of a sibling relationship. There’s a lot of information about where to see wildlife too and the best way to go about finding it. Also, added bonus…there’s a ladybird hidden on every page to spot!
I Love You Little Monster by Giles Andreae and Jess Mikhail
If you want to see me cry, hand me this book and then wait a few minutes. It doesn’t matter how often I read it, I cannot desensitise. In fact, I have to stifle sobs just describing the story. (I may have a crying problem, but that’s a whole nother discussion).
This is a rhyming story by the author of Giraffes Can’t Dance about Big and Small. Big Monster comes in after a day at work to see Small Monster already long in bed. Big thinks Small is asleep and talks to his sleeping child about not having enough time in his busy day to say all the things he should say. As Small sleeps Big tells him all his hopes, fears and dreams for them. But Small isn’t asleep and the illustrations beautifully convey the images going through Smalls mind as Big describes them.
This is just the most wonderful book for all monsters, both big and small…I bought it for my teenagers! It encapsulates everything a parent would want for their child and is so poignant and moving. It really shouldn’t be reserved for little kids. (In writing this part of the review I have used up five tissues and my fourteen year old has given me a disgusted snort.)
Weasels by Elys Dolan
What do you think weasels do all day? Eat nuts and berries? Argue with squirrels? Hide in weasel holes? Well, you are wrong. They…plot world domination!
This is a totally stunning book, almost like a comic book with the main story punctuated with speech bubble asides and lots of sub-plots. The main story is of the gang of weasels and their plan to take over the world. They are a little disorganised and a few of them aren’t paying enough attention, they drink too much coffee and overuse the drill. Needless to say things do not go as planned. There is so much to look at in this book, each page is packed with things to look at and discuss and laugh about. It would take many, many reads to find them all. There’s a lot to appeal to adults here too with some hilarious situations and references they’ll recognise. Weasels is a very funny, very busy book that will keep adults and children happy and engaged for much more than one or two reads.