Friday, 17 June 2011

Lovely review from "Bookworms" in the US

Easy does it ...

It's not easy. But it needs to look that way.
That’s one of the cardinal rules of creating picture books. The words are often simple, and the pictures frequently have a loose, casual flow. Like a teenager laboring for an hour in front of the bathroom to make his hair look just untidy enough, writers and illustrators hide a lot of effort under a picture book’s easygoing veneer.
Two masters of the deceptively simple picture book have new work out this spring: author-illustrators Emma Dodd and Patrick McDonnell (perhaps best known as the cartoonist who created “Mutts”).
From McDonnell comes “Me … Jane” one of the year’s best non-fiction picture books, an illustrated biography that depicts primatologist Jane Goodall’s childhood (ages 3-6, Little, Brown, $15.99). McDonnell’s spare style and expressive faces are paired with some of Goodall’s own drawings, as well as a subtly colored collection of vintage scientific drawings. The story is straightforward and humorous, an inspiring look at a girl who defied expectations about proper careers for young ladies. The book wraps up with a short biography and a note from Goodall herself, encouraging young readers to tackle the world with the same gusto she’s shown.
“Meow Said the Cow,” Dodd’s tale in verse about farm animals suffering a bit of an identity crisis, is just as effortless – but entirely different in focus (ages 3-6, Arthur A. Levine Books, $16.99).
With poetry that strolls along at an pleasant pace, it tells the story of a sleepy-head cat whose magic spell aims to quiet the rooster’s crowing. “He puffed out his chest and opened his beak/and out came the tiniest, ‘squeak, squeak, squeak!’ ”
Of course, if the rooster now has the mouse’s voice, there’s no telling what other sort of mayhem is in store, and Dodd uses sunrise-bright illustrations to highlight the silliness of the situation – and the predicament cat finds himself in. It’s easy to read, easy to laugh at – and easy to love.

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