You’ll never look at color the same way again...

Dec 13, 2013 by

The nature of concept picture books make them formulaic at a very fundamental level. Since these books are usually used to introduce an idea (shapes/colors/numbers), many of them tend to be constructed along similar patterns. Usually it’s over the illustration styles or the examples discussed that they differ. And luckily for us, sometimes, there are inventive exceptions to these rules.     The facing page of the illustration above has the text “But when clouds decide to gather up and the rain pours down, then the sky is white.” Above the printed words, the same sentence is in Braille. This is a spread out of the seemingly paradoxically titled  The Black Book of Colors written by Menena Cottin and illustrated by Rosana Faría. Groundbreaking in many ways, this book was awarded the Bologna Ragazzi New Horizons award back...

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Concept picture books: a much-needed multicultural spin...

Oct 7, 2013 by

Round is a Tortilla has a refreshing take on the common concept picture book about shapes. Usually these kind of books target very young readers, and hence there isn’t a narrative; there are typically words with accompanying pictures. What I really loved about this book was how Roseanne Greenfield Thong‘s charming text and John Parra‘s gorgeous illustrations transport you into a distinctly Hispanic cultural space with a wonderful Latino flavor to it. Even though at its core it is still a ‘list’ book (where there isn’t really a plot), both the written and visual narrative elevate it to something more meaningful and creative than your standard concept book.   Spanish words pepper the rhyming English narration, and make for a great read-aloud experience. I’m not usually a big fan of rhyming text, but it’s quite effective...

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More picture books: Spring brings kindergartners and other beasts...

Apr 4, 2013 by

The cherry blossoms are in bloom all over Seattle. Daffodils everywhere, tulip bulbs emerging and leaves slowly re-appearing on the trees. There could not be a more fitting time to talk about And Then It’s Spring, an enchanting new picture book written by Julie Fogliani and illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Since I don’t understand the concept of ever borrowing one book at a time from the library, I also got a few others. One amongst them was Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! , written and illustrated by Hyewon Yum. Incidentally, both these books were recently awarded the 2013 Ezra Jack Keats Award for New Writer and New Illustrator , which I spoke about in this recent post.   Let’s start with And Then It’s Spring. Too often picture books and children’s books are littered with horribly bad...

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