• Posted on December 16, 2012

The Best of the Best 2012

I look upon this annual selection process with some trepidation. It’s a kind of literary Sophie’s Choice in the sense that every book I write about is loved, and to choose one above the other seems disloyal and unfriendly. You see, I not only support anthropomorphism in picture books, the books themselves possess qualities far beyond their threaded spines. When words inspire art, and a perfect picture book is born, the characters, be they animal, human or carrot, dance off the page. They have lives. They are alive. And for that I am grateful, and humbled.

With these words in mind, one book soared like no other this year. Little Bird by Germano Zullo, with illustrations by Albertine is the reason why I collect picture books, and why I write about them. The story of a delivery man in overalls, a sandwich, and a little black bird made my heart go thump this year. It’s that simple. Little Bird is the perfect embodiment of what is best in us: kindness, humour, beauty, and above all, possibility.

Named one of the Best Illustrated Books of 2012 by the New York Times, Albertine’s illustrations have a playful simplicity that belie the deeper meaning at the core of Little Bird. Though Albertine and writer Germano Zullo hail from Switzerland, the flat landscapes and prairie colours of blue, gold and red are reminiscent of western Canada, greatly charming this western Canadian. If not for Brooklyn-based publisher Enchanted Lion Books, Little Bird, originally published in French, may not have seen the light of day in North America. If you love beautiful picture books, start here, and start with Little Bird.

And now, in no particular order, the best of the best this year~

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  • Posted on December 06, 2012

Christmas Books 2012

The snow is piled along the driveway, my breath freezes into cartoon bubbles when I exhale, and I’ve heard Santa Baby-that excruciatingly awful song, about a thousand times on the radio. Must be Christmas, and time for an updated list of festively-oriented books for 2012. Building on an original list compiled in 2010, I am pleased to add a couple of new publications to the scroll of Xmas excellence, and a few from years past. As I said in 2010, anyone who collects illustrated picture books knows that Christmas is when artists come out to play~when the pencils are the pointiest, the colours the juiciest, and storytelling the most luminescent. Perhaps it’s the sparkling snow, or the spirited beverages. Maybe it’s the fruitcake. Whatever the reason, beautiful books abound.

Such as…

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