You are probably already familiar with author/illustrator Chris Van Allsburg from his best known children’s books: The Polar Express and Jumanji. Both have been turned into extremely successful feature films. They also both earned Van Allsburg a Caldecott Medal for best illustrated children’s book in the year they were published.
Van Allsburg’s work features detailed drawings in a limited range of colors and with unusual perspectives. Look closely and you’ll almost certainly find something surprising, or even other-worldly. Although his books are usually in a picture book format, they are suitable for older kids and adults, as well. You’ll need to spend some time on each page, soaking up the words and the illustrations, to appreciate the richness of the art form.
In 1984, Van Allsburg published an unusual book called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, consisting almost entirely of strange and haunting illustrations. These illustrations were often used in schools as writing prompts. In 2011, a group of young adult authors were asked to write a collection of short stories based on the Harris Burdick illustrations. You can read the stories in The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.
A new book by Jerry Pinkney is always a thing to celebrate! His latest is an adaptation of Han Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid and it’s available at both library branches. Pinkney is one of the most celebrated illustrators of children’s books in America. He’s adapted and illustrated several well-known fairy tales and fables for a picture-book format, winning the Caldecott medal for The Lion & the Mouse.
Pinkney doesn’t limit himself to retellings. If you love his artwork (and I know you will), you should also check out his other picture books. Just search our online catalog or ask at the circulation desk for more suggestions!
A new book by a favorite author or illustrator is always cause for rejoicing. This time I am celebrating the publication of a new book by Peter Sis. Robinson, shown above, blends the story of Robinson Crusoe with a true adventure from Sis’s childhood and was described in Horn Book Magazine as a “visually stunning and empowering tale.” The large size of this picture book gives Sis plenty of space to showcase his distinctive artwork.
If you are not familiar with Peter Sis, it might be because his works are in several different areas in the Library. We have three of his books in the Easy collection and several books in our non-fiction collections. He has also provided illustrations for chapter books as well as books of poetry by Jack Prelutsky.
Sis was born behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia and requested asylum in the U.S. during a film-making trip. He wrote movingly about his early years in his illustrated autobiography The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain.
His work as an illustrator of chapter books includes the Wind on Fire trilogy by William Nicholson and several books by Sid Fleischman.
In 2010, he illustrated The Dreamer, a fictionalized account of the life of poet Pablo Neruda, written by Pam Munoz Ryan. His illustrations are an integral part of this inspirational book and provide a magical touch to the story of a boy struggling to find the freedom to express his creativity.
Peter Sis has written and illustrated several picture book biographies including books about Columbus, Galileo and Darwin. Before Robinson, his most recent book was The Pilot and the Little Prince, based on the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, French pilot and writer of the children’s classic The Little Prince.
In 2012, Peter Sis was awarded the Hans Christian Anderson Book Award for his lasting contributions to children’s literature. He has one adult book to his credit, The Conference of the Birds. This 2011 book is an illustrated retelling of a classic poem by Persian poet Farid Ud-Din Attar. The picture shown below is from the interior of the book rather than the cover. You can read more here about this incredible book.
Our Fall Storytime programs will be featuring three picture book authors; we began on September 12th and 13th with Lois Ehlert. Ehlert is the author and illustrator of over 20 children’s books and has also illustrated books by other authors, including the iconic Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. Coming from a graphic design background, Ehlert creates illustrations from cut paper, cloth, feathers, rocks and much more.
Many of her books are written about plants and animals and are the perfect starting point for discussions or lessons about science. Others of her books use simple shapes and numbers and are wonderful for reinforcing math concepts. Educators love her books because they are so easy to adapt for classroom use, but kids love them for the bright colors and sly sense of humor. Some of the subjects addressed in her books include:
Ehlert attributes her success to parents who encouraged her creativity and who kept her supplied with tools and materials. Her parents’ influence is discussed in her autobiography The Scraps Book which is located in our juvenile biography area.
If any teachers would like me to share some Lois Ehlert books with your classroom, just give me a call. I love to share these amazing books with kids!