This post is part four in my continuing love letter to Patrick McDonnell: artist, writer, and from what I have observed thus far, the kindest man on earth. In addition to fathering comic strip characters Mooch and Earl, Patrick is the author and illustrator of several picture books, three of which have been profiled in this blog. No surprise that his latest non-Mutts outing, Me…Jane, is about Jane Goodall, a fellow champion of the environment, especially where animals are concerned, and in particular to Ms Goodall, chimpanzees. It seems inevitable that McDonnell would find a kindred soul in Jane Goodall, just as Jane found hers in the shorter and hairier inhabitants of the Gombe Stream in Tanzania.
There has been a lot of discussion in the news of late regarding the pervasiveness of dystopian young adult literature, and whether or not it’s appropriate to expose kids to the darker aspects of life, real or imagined. I think we are kidding ourselves if we believe that children and young adults exist in bubbles, and are not in some way already exposed to the full spectrum of humanity.* When I was a young girl, maybe 13 or 14, I abandoned what was ‘appropriate’ for my age and fell headfirst into the novels of Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut and even Margaret Laurence because what I was reading did not reflect the unpredictability and to a degree, the harshness of my life at that time. Nevertheless, most of us in Canada and elsewhere in the developed world lead a comparatively pampered life. Some more pampered than others, but the bulk of us grow up with a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and if we’re lucky, a sense of permanency, all of which is taken for granted because it is the rule, not the exception. Migrant is the story of a girl who lives the exception, but in the most poetic way, brings a beauty to the unpredictable life around her and to the world she imagines for herself and her family.
New blog, old news. Or oldish news, that is, and the blog isn’t new, it just looks like it’s been on holiday and come back refreshed and ready to upload a bunch of new and exciting reviews…that I have yet to write. Sorry blog….I promise I’ll work harder now that you look so pretty. In the meantime, here are a few recent treats from my truly hardworking blogosphere colleagues~
Chris Van Allsburg in the news again. This week Chris talks about his new book Queen of the Falls (thanks Achockablog), and from Anita Silvey at the fab Children’s Book a Day Almanac Blog, the story behind Jumanji.
From the I’m glad someone said it files, NYT’s Pamela Paul on that Go the F*** To Sleep book causing all the controversy…and probably more than a few tired nods of sympathy. Please oh please oh please let someone hire me to write the f***ing sequel.
The Daily Heller always has great design/illustration-related stuff. Here’s a wistful look back at Mad Magazine: “Look Ma, No Teeth.” A madvertisement for Crust Gum Paste.” Blecch! I hope there are more MAD posts like this in the future.
This blog is devoted to exquisite picture books. Story books, with pictures. However, not all illustrated children’s books are narrative in nature. Sometimes they tell us about the boreal forest, or the gifts animals bestow upon us. And others, like My Beastly Book of Silly Things, defy categorization. It is a colouring book, yes, but it is also a quirky collection of drawings, puzzles, and activities, beautifully illustrated, with deliciously subversive instructions to colour outside the lines. Not directly, of course, but slyly…through a series of exercises designed to push the boundaries of creativity…and perhaps taste, but only if you’re an adult. My inner eight year old boy found this book hilarious, especially the page with instructions to ‘draw farts for everyone’, but even though this sort of humour skews toward boys, many girls will find the book funny too, especially those preferring MAD magazine to Bieber Beat. The appeal, however, is broader than children of the crayon age, and to be honest the book made me laugh, and made other so-called adults around me laugh, with nary a crayon or a lego in sight. My Beastly Book of Silly Things is the colouring book you wish you’d had as a kid.