Category Archives: Picture book

Persepolis

There was obviously a hidden agenda when I gave the Resident IT Consultant three graphic autobiographies for Christmas. I wanted to read them myself.

I loved George Takei, as I said.

Then I went for Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. I’d seen the film years ago and really enjoyed it. But I have to admit to having struggled to like the book. I am currently ‘resting’ between book one and book two.

This is about a period in Iranian history that I have lived through, and I read about it in the papers at the time. I felt I understood it reasonably, but Persepolis has me confused. I don’t know what side the girl’s parents are on. Neither does she. Or she doesn’t even know there are sides. I think.

After much confusion on both our parts, the Shah is gone and she has at least one dead uncle and most of her peers have escaped abroad. Her well-off parents are getting worried, and are sending her to Austria. That’s as far as I got.

I can see they are upset, and that the girl is confused and worried. And I remember feeling worked up on her behalf when she was in Vienna in the film. She looked so alone.

I’m not sure I will return to the book. We shall see.

Medals for ‘my’ boys

It’s good to know the witch senses are working just fine. I could simply not see any other outcome regarding the Carnegie Medal than that Anthony McGowan would be awarded it for Lark. It could have happened sooner, but this way we got all four books of the trilogy in.

(And I’m saying this even keeping in mind the competition Tony was up against.)

For the Kate Greenaway medal it was Shaun Tan for his Tales From the Inner City (which I’ve yet to read). One of my most favourite illustrators, and I’m more than satisfied.

This year the proceedings were short and on Radio 4, on Front Row. They interviewed both Tony and Shaun and both read from their books, and explained the background to what they’d written. Tony got so excited he had to be interrupted in the middle of his ‘terrific’ answer…

According to Shaun ‘painting is really a way of exploring anxiety’. Plenty of that around.

Yep, very satisfied with this.

Anthony McGowan, Winner of the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2020 from CILIP CKG Children’s Book Awards on Vimeo.

Music to your bears

Remember David Litchfield’s gorgeous picture book, The Bear and the Piano? It’s one of my long term favourites; one that needed no reminding when I heard of the new musically enhanced picture book video, with the story read by Joanna Lumley, and score by Daniel Whibley.

Here’s the trailer:

And now you’ll want to buy it. I know you will. First, because it’s a really lovely story. Second, because the music adds a certain something to this really lovely story. And third, because by buying this really lovely story you will help the World Health Organisation’s Covid 19 Solidarity Response Fund. Download the video from here.

In all fairness, I required Daughter’s assistance with the technical stuff (but that’s probably because they let me watch for free).

And when we’d caught the musical bear, we decided to move him over to the TV for some bear size enjoyment. The gorgeous illustrations were even better on a bigger screen. And the music was just right, as was Joanna’s reading. Daughter, who had not read the book, watched with rapt attention – and it’s not as if she’s a toddler – loving the music and getting caught up in the story of the bear who finds a piano in the woods. Almost crying when it looked a bit too sad, and then not, when it didn’t.

We ended up having to read the sequel as a bedtime read…

So why don’t you have a go, too?

Illustrations © David Litchfield, Joanna Lumley photo © Rankin 2020.

The Stone Giant

Literature is full of clever little girls and stupid monsters. The Stone Giant by Anna Höglund, and translated by Julia Marshall, is one example.

There is a young girl, living on an isolated island with her brave father. One day he leaves her alone to go and sort out some calamity happening elsewhere, involving people being turned into stone. And of course he fails to return.

The girl – we don’t learn her name – goes off in search of her father, wearing a red dress reminiscent of another red-dressed heroine.

On the way, she meets a wise old woman, who gives her some advice on how to deal with the giant. So with the help of an umbrella and a mirror, the girl fools the dreaded giant and all the stony people become real people again.

Power to little girls!

Lisette’s Green Sock

To learn to be happy with what you have. That’s what you find in this adorable picture book by Catharina Valckx.

Lisette – who is a duck – is out for a walk when she finds a lovely green sock. She puts it on, and is very happy. At least until a couple of cat bullies tells her how silly she is with just the one sock.

She looks for the missing sock, but only finds a fish with some of its own treasure. Her pal Bert – who might be a rat – reckons the sock is a great hat, and being a kind friend, Lisette lets him wear it.

In the end there are three socks; one for Lisette and one for Bert, and one for the fish. Everyone’s happy in their own way.

(Translated from Dutch by Antony Shugaar)

The Book of Hopes

It’s always like this. I get tired and want nothing more than to stay at home for ‘quite some time.’ After a while – it could even be after ‘quite some time’ – I have had enough and I begin to want to climb the walls. Or at least to get out and go to some event, somewhere.

Well, I am ready for an event. Now. Before agoraphobia takes over.

I’ll pretend. There’s a book you can read for free. Katherine Rundell has collected lots of writing from a lot of writers, and some illustratings from illustrators. You’ll find them in The Book of Hopes, which you can get here.

There were extracts in the Guardian Review at the weekend. I was particularly taken with Catherine Johnson’s Axolotl poem:

“Care of Exotic Pets: Number 1. The Axolotl at Bedtime.
Never give your axolotl chocolatl in a botl.
Serve it in a tiny eggcup, not too cold and not too hotl.
Make him sip it very slowly, not too much, never a lotl.
After all, he’s just a sleepy, snuggly, bedtime, axolotl.”

And so it goes. More verses online!

‘All’ the big names have contributed something. Whatever you like, it could well be in here somewhere. I’m thinking what a marvellous book launch this would make, if we could all get together. See you there?

Author, in a dress

What do people do? During these unusual times, I mean.

Supposedly authors, who ‘always’ work from home, tend to do so in their pyjamas. I believe that some have now started actually dressing [properly] for work, from home. Even heard of someone who ironed his clothes.

And they write. At least those who feel up to writing. It can be hard to get in the mood. Or getting out of that other mood.

Will anyone still be around to publish what they write, once they have typed ‘The End’? Will there be shops from which to buy those books?

I came across the link to a video clip, where Wendy Meddour reads her new picture book, Not in that Dress, Princess! It does have a publisher, but won’t be out for a few months yet.

It’s about what princesses can do while wearing dresses.

I like it. Do you?

You’ll never catch up

I appreciate being able to go first.

And I completely trust the Gruffalo.

Thank you for the space

I thought it felt roomier on the broom!

Thank you to Axel Scheffler for the extra airy broom he’s provided me with for the present situation. Besides, I am someone who is happiest with much emptiness around me. Not completely, you understand, but enough room for the swinging of cats, and peace of mind.

The 2020 ALMA winner

This year’s Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winner is completely unknown not just to me, but to some other people who often know a lot more about these things than I do. That’s not to say Baek Hee-na is not a worthy laureate. I wish her all the best, especially in a year when not even the award ceremony can take place in the usual way.

“Baek Hee-na is one of Korea’s most recognized picture book artists. With a background in film animation, her unique visual style features handmade miniature figurines and environments painstakingly lighted and photographed. She has published thirteen picture books that are popular throughout Asia, a number of which have been translated.”