• Posted on December 08, 2010

Picks & Tweets from the Illustrated Word

Molly looks for Santa under the tree

December Will be Ma-ha-ha-gic again…to quote the great, and frequently loopy Kate Bush. Time to set aside our petty grievances and direct our slightly distracted synapses to things of a more spiritual nature, like fistfulls of shortbread and repeated viewings of Mr Bean getting a turkey stuck on his head.

To that end, here are few festively coloured sprinkles from the internet this week~

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  • Posted on November 18, 2010

Picks & Tweets from the Illustrated Word

Subversive Bull

Slight name change as I cannot be relied upon to post these things every week. Also, my twitter account, the Illustrated Word, covers books, illustration, and other assorted visual ephemera, so this title is more apropos, if not a shameless plug for my Twitter site.

Now, onto the news…

Jon Klassen wins the Governor General’s Award for Illustration with Cats’ Night Out. Congrats! Hope to see you in my blog soon…

From Laura Coffey (via Richard Helm), the nine most subversive kids’ books, including Ferdinand, the ultimate pacifist. Really? Ferdinand? What about Gandhi’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Hunger Strike?

From the BibliOdyssey blog (via Round my Skull): “There can never be too many Cephalopods.” My thoughts exactly.

Also from Round My Skull (such a great resource): The 1920s Spanish ‘Pinocchio’ with illustrations by Salvador Bartolozzi.  Kinda whacked…kinda love it.

From the Caustic Cover Critic blog (a big favourite), Ray Fenwick’s Artist books. Really lovely.

11 Of Tim Burton’s Weirdest Christmas Images from the new book The Art of Tim Burton. Weird images? What a surprise.

The Zoomorphic Artography of Fernando Vicente. Stunningly beautiful & exceptionally strange. From the Big Think blog.

From the Daily Heller, the most inventive (and witty) shopping bags in the world.

Next post: My humps, my humps, my lovely book of humps.

  • Posted on November 06, 2010

Picks & Tweets: the week in books

Woopsy Daisy

Well, that’s it. Halloween is over, a thousand fun-size Mars Bars have mysteriously disappeared, and in a few short weeks, this blog will deliver the first of many Christmas posts. However, before a major snowfall covers up the drab end of autumn and Seasonal Affective Disorder settles in for good, here are a few bright lights from the World of Illustration:

Just out, the New York Time’s Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2010~Congrats to 32 Pages favourites Peter Brown & Peter McCarty~ The 100 Scope Notes blog has a terrific review of Peter Brown’s Children Make Terrible Pets, which you can read here.

From Groundwood Books, Marie Louise Gay’s brand new website! This amazing Canadian illustrator has long been one of my visual heroes. Can’t wait to write something about her. Perhaps sooner than later…

Arnold Böcklinorama: The story behind “Isle of the Dead,” one of the most widely hung and reproduced pictures of the late 19th century. Love the original, but Michael Sowa’s homage is simply hilarious.

A 1945 Picture History of Britain, from The Age of Uncertainty blog. I’m a big fan of that retro stuff. For some similar retro visuals, have a look at my review of Charley Parker: An Illustrated Life.

From the Inspiration Blog, a really cool (and inspiring) German illustrator~Christian Lindemann.

Nice article about David Wiesner~Illustrator of many fabulous children’s picture books, some of which will be reviewed in this blog. On a Tuesday.

Next Post: Something bright, colourful, and Gay.

  • Posted on October 23, 2010

Picks & Tweets: the week in books

OK. My next Halloween post was going to be about the Hob stories by William Mayne. To be honest, I knew nothing about this author when I picked up the first novel, Hob and the Goblins, in 1993. The cover, by Norman Messenger, is a gorgeous painting of a rather eerie house in the snow. That was enough then, and it’s still enough today. I picked up the second book, Hob and the Peddler for the same reason~nice cover, again by Norman Messenger. The third collection, The Book of Hob Stories, employed a different but equally talented illustrator, and unlike the other two novels, Patrick Benson’s illustrations can be seen thoughout the book. A no brainer, it needed to come home with me. A year or two passed before I actually read the books, and I found them to be completely charming. However, I have since discovered some very unsavoury things about William Mayne (see the link), which precludes me from writing a more extensive review of his books in this blog. Suffice to say, the two cover illustrations by Norman Messenger, and the artwork by Patrick Benson are worthy of attention entirely on their own, and their work will be explored in greater detail in future posts.

And now for something completely different. Sort of…

From Curious Pages~A review of Georgie, a ‘vintage’ ghost story from 1944. http://bit.ly/awVfOm

From the Guardian, Why I love Peanuts by Joe Queenan. http://bit.ly/9A8L4P Not the nut, the strip.

How many is a pandemonium of pandas? A tangle of octopuses? Have a look at these very cool, very creative illustrations: http://bit.ly/d4Cg7L

JK Rowling wins the Hans Christian Andersen literature award. Worth about £60,000. Great! Now, she can buy that new blouse:  http://bit.ly/bcEKsz And just to clarify, HC Andersen Award that JK Rowling just won is a new award for writers, and is NOT the major biennial medal.

Garth Williams’s cover art for Charlotte’s Web sells at auction for $155K; 42 illustrations sold in total, for $780K. Some pig indeed!  http://wapo.st/9RVMxS

Amazing Book Cover Art  http://t.co/ciB9s5G

Next post: final Halloween book review. And then…Christmas! Just kidding…

  • Posted on October 16, 2010

Picks & Tweets: the week in books

Maggie the witch

The fate of children’s picture books was front and centre this week, starting with an article in the New York Times about picture books no longer being relevant for children. In fact, it’s the beleaguered publishers and frenzied parents who are questioning the validity of illustrated picture books. I’m no expert, having only been a child, never raised one, but I think I can say with some authority that kids, if given a choice, would rather read The Stinky Cheese Man than say, War and Peace. Yeah, I’m exaggerating, but is it possible that so-called ‘accelerated education’ only nourishes the parents ego, not the child’s intellect, imagination, and most importantly, a sustained interest in reading? It’s been a few years since I worked in a bookstore, but I can tell you that the picture book sales were steady. And even today, I was in the children’s section of a local independent, and there was one kid sprawled out on the floor, reading a picture book, and another in his mother’s lap, both of them engrossed in an Oliver Jeffers. It was all I could do not to step on children as I made my selections. Whatever opinion you hold, the article fueled some great discussions, and here are a few of the best:

Roger Sutton, editor of the Horn Book, had this to say about NYT article on picture books. http://bit.ly/c6YJdD

The best children’s picture books future generations may never read http://bit.ly/bsBCTB

Are picture books for kids fading or flourishing? Two opinions on this controversial subject: http://mbist.ro/cwchtb

Embracing the Picture Book –http://tinyurl.com/2dw9pd

And…the funniest, and most eloquent response belongs to the Boyz Read blog~FUNERAL FOR A PICTURE BOOK? http://bit.ly/cucHkX Awesome!

And now that the issue has been resolved…here are a few tasty items about picture books that don’t involve their imminent demise:

From the New Yorker: The Berenstain Bears get an app and find God. Heh. http://nyr.kr/9YP1DS

The story behind a lost, unpublished Dr. Seuss manuscript!  http://bit.ly/dBDeH5

Three David Macaulay Books Relaunched~Castle, Cathedral and Mosque. What, no Yurt?  http://bit.ly/cSxSnO

Robert Sabuda take note, you weren’t the first…by a longshot: A 1482 “pop up” book:  http://cot.ag/bfrmNQ

The printed book is not dead yet | Joe Moran http://bit.ly/9tQPXb (Not about picture books, but still mighty interesting.)

Next Post:  The A to Z of Halloween

  • Posted on October 08, 2010

Picks & Tweets: the week in books

Seriously, Linus...

October is one of my favourite months. Autumn colours and bags of fun-sized chocolate bars make me happy in a very, very deep place. And speaking of the Great Pumpkin (which we weren’t)…

The Peanuts cartoon strip turns 60!  Read all about it in a new Lines and Colors post: http://bit.ly/8XHxvn Where would we (I) be without our (my) cultural reference points like Charlie Brown and Snoopy? Even though I’ve watched A Charlie Brown Christmas, without fail, every December since the early seventies, I think I took the strip for granted until I read an essay in Jonathan Franzen’s autobiographical collection, The Discomfort Zone (HarperCollins, 2006.) The analysis and appreciation of the Charles Schulz oeuvre is quite a pleasure to read, as is all of Franzen’s work. Schulz and Peanuts by David Michaelis is also an excellent read. (HarperCollins, 2007.)

From Roger Ebert (my secret crush): “Wise to watch it NOW while it’s still online”. Donald Duck Meets Glenn Beck. http://j.mp/dDz0Bg Love a little cartoon subversion!

From 100 Scope Notes: The 10 Most Valuable Picture Books … of All Time!  http://100scopenotes.com/2010/10/05/the-10-most-valuable-picture-books/ Heyyy. ..my first edition copy of Karline’s Duck, which I stole from the Winnipeg Public Library, is not on the list. Yeah, so maybe the story of a filthy old woman and her unnatural relationship with a duck is not a classic, but did I mention it’s a first edition?

Love his stuff.

From the Guardian: A long profile of author/illustrator Lauren Child, creator of Clarice Bean and Charlie & Lola. http://bit.ly/cNm6DB Love her stuff.

Canadian Children’s Publishers Hope for Good Finish to year – PW http://t.co/wxC96Z5 Seriously, I am doing my best.

Illustrator Peter de Seve: Lines and Colors post: http://bit.ly/aMhkYN, also a link to his great website (also freshly linked on 32 Pages.)

Next Blog: Oh, something Halloweeny. ‘Tis the season, after all.

  • Posted on October 01, 2010

Picks & Tweets: the week in books

Run Away!

September 25th to October 2 is Banned Books week. (In Canada there is also Freedom to Read week which takes place in February.) See who’s banning what: an interactive map of book bans and challenges: http://bit.ly/cqI0jK

From the New Humanist~Tibet, sausages and masturbating mice. As Banned Book Week concludes, Anne Rooney explores the hidden restrictions on what children are reading. http://bit.ly/bQqQMP

For further reading on the subject of censorship in children’s books, have a look at my review of Else-Marie and Her Seven Little Daddies. North Americans and Swedes may share a love for  pre-fabricated particle board, but we have entirely different bathing rituals.

PS: The only book that was ever banned in my house was a teen novel called Go Ask Alice, because it was about drugs. I read it several times, in spite of my mother, and I’m proud to say the only drug I’ve ever experimented with is the type of crack available in bookstores. And I may have licked a toad or two.

From the Guardian: Raymond Briggs: ‘The picture book is the best field for an illustrator‘ http://bit.ly/9in8RI I love Raymond Briggs, and this is a great little video~from nursery rhymes, to Fungus, to the Snowman. Awesome.

Good Grief, Moon!  Most alarming news this week…things you never wanted to know about Margaret Wise-Brown. From Mental Floss, a rather disturbing portrait of Ms Wise-Brown~ http://bit.ly/9E2Aqa This short article adds a whole other level of meaning to Runaway Bunny.

David Sedaris, Squirrels and Chipmunks, with illustrations by Ian Falconer. What’s not to love?http://t.co/lMl1hny (via NPR)

Great new blog discovery: Boyz Read Lots of great ‘boy-centric’ picture book reviews and suggestions.

Funniest tweet this week: “It is the 50th anniversary of The Flintstones, the inspiration for the crazy cartoon world of Creationism.” Carl Maxim

Next review: Didn’t I say this last week? Why, Halloween, of course!

  • Posted on September 25, 2010

Picks & Tweets: the week in books

Finished reading yet, huh, finished reading yet, huh, huh, huh???

Lots of interesting articles this week, and a couple of blog discoveries…

From the New York Times: 10 Ways to Celebrate Banned Books Week, which is the last week of September~ http://nyti.ms/aEmais

The Death of the Book Has Been Greatly Exaggerated http://bit.ly/ag13KF As a dedicated hyperbolist, I would expect nothing less!

Can Censoring a Children’s Book Remove Its Prejudices? http://bit.ly/b8QZLB Seriously, just leave them alone!

Why so many dead parents in kids’ books? Hard to say, but Pippi Longstocking was a childhood favourite when I was a kid, which may or may not have had something to do with the fact that she was essentially parentless. And a redhead.  Sure, dad was at sea, but same dif… http://bit.ly/c08X6x

Found a fabulous new blog this week: Playing by the Book Through this blog I was able to take a gobsmackingly wonderful children’s literary tour of the UK. Part I http://bit.ly/bDhxzVPart II http://bit.ly/ct26AL A fab holiday, and I never left my chair.

More blogging goodness: The Caustic Cover Critic: One man’s endless ranting about book cover design. Heh.

Seven Stories celebrates John Burningham’s artwork. Mr Gumpy would be proud.

Next Post: Bugs. Or, if I’ve already posted it, Halloween picture books for the entire month of October!

  • Posted on September 18, 2010

Picks & Tweets: The week in books

Did you say something?

As my cat Molly can attest, it’s been a long, tiring week. However, the world of books, and in particular, children’s illustrated books, never fail to warm my blood and energize my brain, just like coffee but without the teeth staining. Here’s the latest:

An impressive list of authors will be expanding on the illustrations in Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. To be released next fall. Oh boy, oh boy! http://bit.ly/dg60G4

Elvis sightings~in the illustrations of Anita Kunz. Did I mention she’s my favourite non-picture book illustrator? Well, she is!  http://bit.ly/bd3uqq

BBC News~Is our relationship with books changing? My answer? Nope. Still emptying my pockets for the ‘hard stuff’… http://bbc.in/dDA0ou

September 13th was Roald Dahl Day! I’m sure I had a chocolate bar in his honour, but really, I don’t need

Nothing like the original

an excuse to shove a Kit Kat in my mouth. Have a read of this surprising article from New York Magazine: Roald Dahl—the storyteller as benevolent sadist http://bit.ly/bonsVI And while we’re on the subject, let me just say that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remains one of my all-time favourite books. In the late-90’s, Dahl’s entire series had a visual overhaul, and the illustrations by Joseph Schindelman, which I grew up with and loved, disappeared. Thankfully, I had ordered a hardcover edition of CATCF (and the sequel Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator) the year before, with the original illustrations, so I wouldn’t be stuck with the Quentin Blake illustrations. This is not a criticism. His lively artwork is great, but it’s just not my Charlie.

Two blog posts this week, South and Harvey. A record, I think..

NEXT POST: Not sure yet, but something funny…not involving death.

  • Posted on September 09, 2010

Picks & Tweets: The week in books

If a dog had nasturtiums for a head

William Gibson On the Future of Book Publishing. Wall Street Journal  http://bit.ly/9xUvnJ

More fun from Curious Pages: Boners, More Boners, Still More Boners & the Pocket Book of Boners from Dr Seuss http://bit.ly/d1tPmW

The curse of swearing in children’s books http://bit.ly/ch26fr (as opposed to the joy of swearing in real life…)

Huffington Post~Funniest Kid’s Books by Comedians~Seinfeld/Martin/Brooks agreed, but what about John Lithgow’s The Remarkable Farkle McBride, with fabulous illustrations by C.F. Payne? http://huff.to/aYHY3K

“There is only one religion of book burning.” International PEN President condemns Koran burning: http://mbist.ro/bXUT2S

Lane Smith on the technology battle in It’s a Book:  http://bit.ly/bZRSrL

Is there a future for the independent bookstore in the digital age? http://ow.ly/2AyEY (and if not, when would be the best time to kill myself?)

Next Post:  South by Patrick McDonnell

and then…Harvey by Herve Bouchard. It’s a stunner! (THANK YOU Groundwood Books!)