Today, let's celebrate the emerging artist!
THE SHOW AND TELL LION by Barbara Abercrombie, illustrated by Lynn Avril Cravath (McElderberry)
Matthew tells his class that he has a baby lion. Though he knows it's just make-believe, the more he talks about it, the more real his story becomes. It isn't long before the baby lion grows and grows, and so does Matthew's story. When the class wants to go on a field trip to Matthew's house to meet his special pet, Matthew knows it's time to tell the truth. Maybe his mother can help him find a way to do it so that he doesn't have to completely unravel the marvelous tale he has woven. "'You lied?' says Sarah in a loud voice. 'You don't really have a lion living at your house? Larry isn't real?' 'He's real in my head,' says Matthew. 'He's real in my book.'" The drama of a problem starting to mushroom will resonate with its intended audience, and the resolution is satisfying and believable. In a brilliant stroke by the illustrator, Matthew's artwork gradually combines with his real surroundings, as both environments meld. This book sensitively portrays the desire for the things we imagine to be manifested in the world, and the power of the artist, at any age, to make it so. (5 and up)
HOUNDSLEY AND CATINA by James Howe, illustrated by Marie-Louise Gay (Candlewick)
Catina is an aspiring author. Houndsley is a talented cook. Both have aspirations of fame and recognition, but they may ultimately have to settle for the audience of one good friend. Just the opening is worth the price of the book: "Catina wanted to be a writer. Every evening after dinner, she would make herself a cup of ginger tea and sit down to write another chapter in her book. So far she had written severty-three chapters." An early reader in chapter book form, the droll and heartfelt writing makes this little gem glow. (5 and up)
Also of interest:
THE DOT by Peter Reynolds (Candlewick) The teacher of a frustrated young artist suggests, "just make a mark and see where it takes you." This reassuring tale that will bring out the artist in every child. Check out the companion title, ISH, about a creative boy whose abstract interpretations may not look exactly like a vase or a tree, but definitely appears vase-ish and tree-ish.(4 and up)
DOODLES: A REALLY GIANT COLORING AND DOODLING BOOK
by Taro Gomi (Chronicle) Some folks of my generation will remember The Anti-Coloring Book; here is a mega-mondo-360-page coloring book in the same vein. Children are invited to collaborate with an artist on every page: add sauce to the noodles, color snakes to the tips of their tails, help the sun rise behind mountains, feed crocodiles, help magicians do their tricks. Sharpen those crayons, and save this one for a rainy day! Great warm-ups for grown-up illustrators, too. (4 and up)
Older kids and the young-at-heart who consider their own art skills to be sketchy will enjoy the can-do attitude in DRAWING FOR THE ARTISTICALLY UNDISCOVERED, a hands-on guide by Quentin Blake (illustrator of Roald Dahl's books) and John Cassidy (Klutz Books)(8 and up).
An oldie but goodie, Caldecott honor-winner FREDERICK is a bit of a twist on "the grasshopper and the ant" fable, in which a little mouse gathers the bits and pieces that make up the poetry he will share with his community when they need words to warm the long winter months. It sure is nice to see an artist get some appreciation! (4 and up)
And why should kids have all the fun? If you are a grown-up who would like to be a children's book author or illustrator, be sure to join The Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and hook up with a supportive and informative network in your area.
On a personal note:
The Vive la Paris Reading Round Robin is now closed. If you e-mailed a request to participate, copies of the book have been sent out and should be arriving to you within coming weeks. Thank you for your kind interest. Enjoy!
Links are provided for informational use. Don't forget to support your local bookseller.