In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Dear Annie,

Ah yes, two years old: Isabel's definitely bigger all the time.

Do you know
Little Gorilla
, by Ruth Bornstein?  Little Gorilla lives in the forest and is loved by all the animals he meets.  Then one day he starts to grow (we see animals looking up, off-page), and he ends up BIG.  All his friends come to his birthday party, and they all still love him.  It sounds ridiculously simple-minded, but it's sweet too.

I wanted to look at some big-as-life books today.  First, there's
Life-Size Zoo
, by Kristin Earhart (editor) and Toyofumi Fukuda (photographer).   It's big: 14 inches high and 20 inches wide when it's open, but some pages fold out one more time, giving you a 40-inch wide panorama.  and what you're looking at is a picture of an elephant, a tapir, a koala, or a hedgehog printed in the size it would be in real life.  A giraffe with its tongue sticking out spans the whole width.  And a tiger, at 20 inches across, sure is big:

Lots more about this book and two others by the same folks at a blog called Bookie-Wookie, featuring a dad and kids talking about what they've been reading.

Then there's the amazing Steve Jenkins, who creates lots of stunning non-fiction books illustrated with cut-paper collages.  In
Actual Size
he does with collage what Fukuda did with photos. The gorilla's hand on the cover (book is 12 inches high) makes anyone -- grown-up or child -- feel small.  And when an animal is too big for the page, we get wonderful detail.  I had no idea a giant squid's eye is bigger than a gorilla's hand!  Here's more at Jenkins' website.

Animal Faces by Kyoko Toda and Akira Satohis, is alas, out of print -- although I've just ordered a copy sent to you from alibris for Isabel's birthday.  The picture on the cover is of a life-size wombat -- harking back to an earlier wombat entry here.  But the beauty of this book is in the smaller photographs inside.  Every two-page spread has 21 photographs of one species of animal: gorillas, tigers, camels, elephants, etc.  The beauty of it is that each photograph is of a different individual.  Kids of many different ages can get lost in comparing all the different faces.  Check out the rhinos:

I bought as many copies as I could find of this great book when it went out of print, so that I could keep selling them.  It took about a year to run through them all, and now I miss it.  I hope it's a hit at your house.



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