• Posted on February 26, 2012

A House in the Woods

At some point during winter, when the landscape is daubed in grey and Spring is still in the abstract, I turn to the golf channel, not because I have a fondness for rich, white men (or at least not the married ones), but because I crave the green. And when the inevitable boredom hits (approximately 15 minutes in), I turn to picture books- a dose of bibliotherapy to soothe my seasonal affective disordered brain. Of course, this only works with the really colourful books, such as A House in the Woods by Inga Moore. The snow is piling up in drifts outside, but it doesn’t matter. I am following moose, bear, and two little pigs through an autumnal wood as they gather building materials for their project, a cozy house where all four will eventually live. The illustrations are so vibrant, I can almost smell the spotted mushrooms, and the thick undergrowth of the forest. Say what you want about golf, other than the green of the grass, it just doesn’t have the sensual impact of a great picture book.

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  • Posted on February 15, 2012

Picks & Tweets from the Illustrated Word

The best thing about February is that it’s a short month. Not as short as it could be (I’m talking to you day 29), but still brief enough to delude myself into thinking spring is just around the corner. It’s not, but I’m fully prepared to live with my delusions awhile longer, or at least until the Easter Bunny makes his annual appearance. Contributing mightily to the percentage of sane-like particles in my brain is the daily, sometimes hourly, occasionally minute to minute forays into the wonderful world of the interwebs. And chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

Along with the caloric content of a large bag of M&M’s, the most thought-provoking thing I read this week is a report that U.S. kids’ books lack a Connection to Nature. Is it different in Canada? Well, we have a maple leaf on our flag and a beaver on our nickel so it’s fair to say the natural world looms large in our national psyche. More on this soon…

Loved this article entitled Do Book Bloggers Really Matter? I guess it depends on what is meant by ‘matter’, but as a former bookseller, I know that advocacy does make a difference. A blog is a pimped up staff selections section, with a spotlight and a megaphone. Instead of hand-selling a book one person at a time, potentially, I have a much bigger audience, which is especially gratifying when I’m writing about a loved but perhaps less well-known title, or one that’s been ‘resting’ quietly in the dark for far too long. Do bloggers matter? I dunno, but books matter.

To William Joyce, storyteller, illustrator extraordinaire, and now Oscar nominee for best animated short~The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore…um, seriously dude. Is there anything you can’t do, cause you sure know how to write and illustrate gorgeous picture books, and…make one of the most beautiful and moving animated movies ever. Ever ever. Download it on iTunes.

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  • Posted on February 11, 2012

A Day in February

With Valentine’s Day (or Tuesday, as I like to call it) just around the corner, and in the absence of any new mushy picture books for the occasion (other than the usual dreary selection of pink and/or heart-shaped books permeating the children’s section), I am revisiting my post from last year, with one addition. It’s not new, just a new format: Patrick McDonnell’s sweetly unconventional Hug Time, issued this February as a board book. As the title implies, Hug Time is about hugs, and the procuring thereof, but among the beautiful illustrations and feather-light storytelling is a subtle environmental message. Nothing heavy-handed, just McDonnell’s characteristic gentleness and wit, now in a more chewable format.

For a full review of Hug Time, and other unconventional Valentine’s reads, please check out my post from February 2011.

Happy Blue Muffin Day!

Hug Time by Patrick McDonnell published by Little, Brown 2012

Listen to Patrick reading Hug Time.