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.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Can't stop looking . . .

Dear Annie,

Ah, Charles Santore.  I've always felt the cover of his Snow White is one of the weaker illustrations in the book -- makes it seem bland, which it isn't.  Your choice of internal pictures was great.

I've just spent an hour poring over a wonderful mostly-wordless book, trying to pick just the right pictures to scan.  Here's Matthew, who (we are told) runs every morning.  He starts out on a spring day . . .

 but encounters a banana peel . . .

then meets Isabella and her dog Max, who have just what he needs . . .
 and they go shopping together to get something else he needs.

Isabella and Matthew end up chatting together on a park bench.  The fun of all this is that it takes some time to find Matthew -- or any of the other many characters -- in every picture:
If Richard Scarry were transformed into a tasteful German graphic designer, this would be the result.  Author and illustrator Rotraut Susanne Berner has created her world with a wonderful sense of humor and details that just don't quit.  She also did the delightful illustrations for The Number Devil, another great German book.

In the Town All Year 'Round
is divided into four seasons.  At the start of each section we meet more than a dozen characters -- each comes with a caption:
Emma and Jonas want to play ball in the park
Oliver will be surprised while working in the garden.
Will Suzie lose something while riding her scooter?
What is a fox doing in the city? [Note fox in picture above, chasing a goose.  It ends up investigating dumpsters.]
During the course of the year, there's lots of weather, a construction site that results in a new kindergarten, evolving relationships, and much more.  That was just the beginning for Isabella and Matthew: by the fall they're using their cell phones to find each other in the crowd, looking a little irritated.  Another of my favorite characters is Martha, the penguin-loving nun -- although I can't tell if the penguin she carries around is real or a stuffed one.

There's just so much to look at.  A reader -- child or adult -- can get sucked right in, seeing all the tableaux, following changes from page to page and season to season.



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