Picture Books

Lately, I find myself reading picture books as a change from all those word-heavy pages and because I love the artwork.  The first book was one I read about on Vasilly’s blog at 1330v, it is on her list for Herding Cats II.

9780888998736The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria, translated by Elisa Amado. Groundwood Books, 2008.

This is one of the most beautiful picture books I’ve seen in a long time, and there is no color here.  I wish it had been published when I was an adolescent as I spent many hours trying to describe color to my dear friend Henry, who was blind from birth. It was impossible but we spent afterneens laughing about it.

The text is clear and simple and written in braille along with typeface.  The illustrations are textures embossed on ink black pages.  A sighted reader must read the book tactilely, the way a blind person would.  It will expand your or a child’s universe, and offers a starting point for discussions on different ways of experiencing the world.

061886244701_sx140_sy225_sclzzzzzzz_The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson and Beth Krommes, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 2008. The winner of the 2009 Caldecott Medal.

When I first saw the scratchboard artwork in The House in the Night it reminded me of the art in Wanda Gag’s Millions of Cats, but this is a very different book. Krommes, the illustrator, adds  yellow to deep black and the soft color brings comfort.  Light and warmth glow in the dark night.  Simple phrases and objects,  a bed, a book , a bird, lead up and out into a glorious star-filled sky and then back again to the security of a child’s bed. She is surrounded by the things she loves and those who love her.  She is safe.

A beautiful, comforting story for children and adults.

080285302101_sx140_sy225_sclzzzzzzz_A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2008. A 2009 Caldecott Honor book.

First, let me say that William Carlos Williams is one of my favorite American poets.  I am awed by his life and his work. This book is an lovely introduction to his life for the young reader or for any adult who enjoys picture books. The  layering of colors and mixed-media collage blend with the text  to illustrate important events and there are examples of his work at the end of the book.

A River of Words is the celebration of a man who chose  earn a living being a doctor and caring for others and also found the time to  follow his desire to be a poet.

Other reviews:

The House in the Night

Rebecca Reads

SherMeree’s Musings

The Well-Read Child

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams



Filed under PictureBooks, Review

12 responses to “Picture Books

  1. Pingback: Weekly Geeks « Page247

  2. I’m blushing! I’m so glad you enjoyed all three books! Isn’t The Black Book of Colors great? You wonder about the other things in your life that can be described differently.

    My library just sent me Winter Trees. I plan on reading it today and I can’t wait. Great reviews, Gavin!

  3. Beautiful post…

    I like “A River of Words” – I’ll check that out at my library this week…


  4. I am yet to read and review any picture books. Wioll get around it sometime. BTW, this week’s WG was easy for me too. I linked to my poetry to blog and reposted a poetry book review.

    But I also wrote a review in senryu:


  5. rikkiscraps

    Thanks for telling us about the black book of color. It sounds intriguing, I must go and see whether I can find it over here.

  6. Wow..every one of those sounds amazing!

  7. Your review of House is like most that I have read – people really love it. It just didn’t work for me. I am anxiously waiting for River to appear at my library.

  8. I love picture books, too, Gavin, even before I had kids, lol. Like you, the artwork just get me, plus the simplicity of the words make them profound, don’t you think? I will be adding these to our storytime reading pile, thanks. :D

  9. I’ve loved Williams’ poetry ever since I was a kid and found out he was a doctor. I remember coming across The Red Wheelbarrow and thinking how he’d have appreciated haiku:

    so much depends

    a red wheel

    glazed with rain

    beside the white

    It slows us right down and makes us focus. Thank you for visiting my blog and your kind words about my poetry.

  10. The Black Book of Colors – what a fantastic concept. And I really like the idea of you trying to explain what colours look like. To some extent I suppose you can link colours and feelings, and use adjectives like warm & cold.

  11. Vassily – You should blush! I get great recommendations from your blog!

    E.H. – Thank you! River of Words is a wonderful book, and a great way to introduce children to some beautiful poetry.

    Gautami – It was really fun reviewing these books. Your poem is stunning.

    Rikkiscraps – I hope you can find it. Where are you?

    Nymeth – This was really fun to do. All three books are wonderful.

    Sharon – You are right, sometimes things work and some time they don’t. I hope you get River. Do you have other suggestions for me?

    Claire – These are all great books but I have to say The Black Book blew me away.

    Sandra – Simple, clear and direct. The Red Wheelbarrow helps me remember to breath. I have to try writing Haiku.

    Dorte – I know, the concept is amazing, and I love the idea that sighted children can close their eyes and experience something new!

  12. All the books sound good Gavin

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