Yesterday I wrote about books for older children and young adults. Today, hooray, it's those illustrated books. I declare most of them were created for the child-at-heart adult. None can demonstrate better than Pete the Cat!
How shall I describe our Pete? Fun, fun, fun! Frankly, I want to be just like Pete: unflappable, flexible, and adaptable. Make lemonade out of lemons. Go with the flow. One reviewer indicated the lesson is terrible: Accept your fate. Oh, I disagree. Pete saw no fate--just circumstances to turn into the next pleasant venture on his road of life. Pete? At the beginning he has new white shoes which he loves. In each adventure he steps into colorful piles, each time turning his shoes into a new color. Does he whine? Does he complain? "Goodness no!" He just sings a new song about blue shoes, red shoes, brown shoes. Oh, yes, there IS magic in this story, Virginia!! In my school library PK-4 practically demanded Pete the Cat for three weeks in a row. Never mind my new choice--they wanted Pete!! So Pete it was--for three straight weeks.
Here's another lovable book: Widget, the story of one dog and five cats. The dog comes through the kitty door one night during a story and discovers bowls of food, beds enough, and a kindly old woman who loves them all. Widget must act like a cat to be accepted into the kitty domain. He does, but when their Woman trips, falls, and becomes unconscious, kitty meows and wails and caterwauls simply do not "get" the neighbors. So Widget barks and barks. Kitties join in. Woman is saved, Widget is a hero, and becomes a dog once again. A totally fabulous book.
Here's another dog and cat book: Hondo and Fabian, one of my secret favorites of all time! Just as the illustrations are soft pointillism, so the the story. Hondo gets to go to the beach and play with his dog friend. Fabian has to stay home and gets played with by the "baby," (a just-walking toddler). She finally escapes and hides to await Hondo's return. When he does, all is right with the world once again. The sequel is Fabian Escapes, which I also adore! Fabian escapes the house to explore but has to hide all day under the house to escape attack by neighboring dogs!
With the ads on television for Disney's new movie, Tangled, I got out a Caldecott winner of one version of Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky to read to the little ones. Even though beautifully illustrated with Renaissance details, the story of Rapunzel and the witch frightens young children, along with Hansel and Gretal, especially the version by Paul Galdone. Do you know what rapunzel is? Greens! The mother-to-be craves rapunzel she sees day in and day out from her bedroom window. There's a price: the owner of the garden (a witch) gets her baby at birth, then hides her away.
Olivia Saves the Circus is a pure delight! There is a fine line for parents in allowing their child creative freedom and limiting their right to cross the line (so to speak). Olivia's creator walks that line. In this book Olivia is a one-man, er, one-pig circus performer. She is the circus (her imagination) and in her presentation to the class.
"Olivia," says the teacher. "What?" responds Olivia. "Is that true," asks the teacher? "Mostly true," Olivia calmly replies.
And another is Stellaluna, a wonder of illustrations by Janell Cannon. Ms Cannon can take the simplest creature and bring it to life in the most joyous ways! Stellaluna, the fruit bat, is lost in flight one night and lands in a nest of baby birds. She must adapt her ways to theirs to stay, but discovers her true fruit bat calling one night. Illustrations range from poignant to humorous to joyous. It's a must-have book for the 4-8 group!
Two other whimsical books by Cannon are Verdi (the story of a python) and Pinduli (the story of a hyena). Yes, count on Ms Cannon to make the these into lovable creatures.
One any list of fabulous illustrated books are those by David Wiesner, particularly Tuesday and The Three Pigs. Wiesner's viewpoint is always out of the box and past the lines. In the pig story the pigs climb in and out of the book to share their story with readers, all the while bringing in characters from other books. It ends with no deaths, not even the wolf's.
I'll close with a Christmas story, that of Humphrey. The reader is unaware that this camel belongs to one of the Wise Men of the Christmas story until the end. All along the trip Humphrey is most disagreeble (as camels tend to be), until he meets the baby. Then he, too, wants to share.This illustrated book is a surprise favorite of the holiday season.
There are more reasons for reading illustrated books for children, but these stand on their own as spokespersons.
Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)
- *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
- The Odd Women by George Gissing
- The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
- How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
- The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
- In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
- *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
- Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
- The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
- Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
- Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
- Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
- The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
- Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
- Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
- Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
- *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
- Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
- A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
- The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
- Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
- *Ruined by Paula Morris
- Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
- Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
- Silence by Shusaku Endo
- *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
- Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
- *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
- Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
- *The Giver by Lois Lowery
- *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski