Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tasha Tudor and Pumpkin Moonshine

Pumpkin Moonshine was sort of an ur-book for me. Just about the first one I can remember, that is. It is soft and glorious and charming and memorable. I wanted to live where Sylvie Ann lived, and wear a bonnet like Sylvie Ann, and somehow inhabit the same colors she inhabited.

Tasha Tudor brought genius and charm--and an incredible work ethic, from what I remember hearing from booksellers-in-the-know--to our world.  

The Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards 2008

Once again, the magnificent Katherine Tillotson contacted us with good news: The Horn Book Awards have been announced, and several of our favorite people are included.

Congrats to Peter Sis, Shaun Tan, Sherman Alexie, Edwin Fotheringham (a long time favorite of art.books.children)...and all the wonderful others...can't wait to look into several of these books and add them to the library wing (a girl can dream, right?) of our house.

Maira Kalman, Maira Kalman, Maira Kalman

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Felicia Hoshino

Made me cry. Well, looking at her artwork made me cry. Like a baby. Her work is luminous: it is rendered beautifully, in a masterful way that is vivid and touching. I wish you could see it in person, as we did, year before last, during the always-remarkable Reading the World, at USF.

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow, written by Amy Lee-Tai, and illustrated by Felicia Hoshino. Yep. It's the art from that book that made me cry (I'm still a little embarrassed by it: when I went up to congratulate Felicia, after she gave a delightful presentation, I couldn't talk & got all choked up. I think it was truly the beauty of her work--the soul that is contained within--that readily shines through. When you see that sort of thing, it is not bad to be so moved. It is good. Amy Lee-Tai's story, greatly inspired, is an important one, and I think every child would benefit from knowing it.) 

I am sure that many great things will continue to come from Felicia. I can't wait.

And, pleasepleaseplease, don't miss the Michiya Hanayagi Dancer, on the website. Fabulous.

Photo above is from The Presidio, which is a hop skip and a jump from USF. You can take a spin through it's marvelousness when you come out to attend Reading the World, 2009. See you there.

In a Blue Room: Jim Averbeck and Tricia Tusa

Short post of the day.

"In a Blue Room." Poetry. Art. Bedtime. Sweet music to the eyes and ears.  


For a good read about this, please go to the fabulous, masterful blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast...

Written by Jim Averbeck and illustrated by Tricia Tusa: absolutely great work. A superb addition to any young child's library. 

Buster Keaton Influx and Catherine Brighton and Elizabeth Bird and Katherine Tillotson

In at least one of our blog posts, there's reference to "Life Like Tales," the piquantly charming, sweetly elegant dance that was choreographed for UCDavis last spring (okay, and the choreographer's last name is Thorne, full disclosure here). I mention this only to illustrate our "Buster Keaton Influx." For Christmas, all the choreographer really wanted was books about Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

For those who know me, this meant that Buster & Charlie were soon busily making their way through our door, in twos (because some of the books were so delicious there was one for the home library and one for the choreographer's library).

Anyhow, we had a big Buster influx in December. He's quite a guy, and it's probable that I will list the Buster books at a later date. But, in the hopes of making this quick, here goes:

Thanks to the magnificent work/eye of Katherine Tillotson, who noted that we would find interesting thoughts on Fuse #8 about possible nominations for the upcoming award season, we, again, bumped into Buster...and thought well, here is a Buster Keaton Zeitgeist,

please take a look at this wonderful review of Catherine Brighton's "Keep Your Eye on the Kid: The Early Years of Buster Keaton" by Elizabeth Bird--Fuse #8, herself!--who says, "Droll, witty, beautiful, and factual, it fulfills every requirement you could have of a picture book biography, rewarding us every time we read and reread it. Truly amazing. Truly fantastic."

Which is enough to make me want to run out and add Catherine Brighton's Buster book to the Keaton et Chaplin library we started in December.

If you want to know why the Struwwelpeter that has been hanging around our house since 1989 illustrates this post, shall just have to go read Elizabeth's review of Catherine's Buster.

Now, I am thinking that the amazing Joan Vigliotta (of course) brought this book to our attention months ago...but I am often late to book club (big surprise there!) and I think I missed the intro. So, kudos also to Joan.

And to think that I got on the computer to order a pair of walking shoes from Zappos for the upcoming (ohlordyIamsoveryhappytobegoing) trip to NYC. And to think that I thought this would be a short post.

One last ramble: I noticed, in December, that Buster's unusual name could be sourced to his father's friend, Harry Houdini. Fuse #8 covers this. I mention it, though, because it all seems to tie into the Buster Zeitgeist (re: New York Times, Steampunk Article), and "Life Like Tales," and...

off to find some shoes. Here's hoping I won't be boiling the leather halfway through the trip to New York. Know any good delis near Cooper Street?

Monday, June 16, 2008


Please do take a little moment to look at this wonderous food blog that was just on blogs of note (thanks, Eric, for pointing it out).

A food blog by an illustrator?  From Spain!  What could be yummier?

I think you will love the art.  I do.

Saint Joan and Saint Beverly, Amen.

This blog wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for two patron saints: St. Joan and St. Bev.  

St. Joan, because she nudged me several years ago (with the most delightful nudge ever, an invitation to join the best book club I could possibly imagine being in...thank you, Joy Look Book Club, for being the most excellent of most excellents get the picture).  That nudge--and the amahzing (as Seth Rudetsky likes to say) book group that Joan thought up--brought me back (from far-away design & style land) to my first (after the fam) love: children's books. There will be lots more about Joan Vigliotta later, if it's okiedokie with her, but we'll start with a link to the Mother's Day post on sweet her.  Thank you, St. Joan, with lots of well-deserved adoration and stuff.

And what of St. Bev?  She's the gal who said to go on and do this blog (or whatever web-wide stuff it was I was thinking of doing--I wasn't sure at the time, and it's all still evolving).  She's the amazing person who said, basically, "you go girl, I know you can do it, I know it will be good."  She's the kind of friend everyone with an idea needs. The incomparable Dr. Beverly V. Hock is also hugely instrumental in the gloriousness that is Reading the World.  And if you haven't bought your ticket to go see it yet, you best get is the event that I never, ever want to miss.  More on this here.  

We hope to be interviewing the fab Dr. Bev in the near future.  And, if we are very, very lucky, we may be able to take a quick video tour (or several dozen) through Joan's amahzing house: how fabulous is her house?  Well, let's just say that several of the best authors & illustrators in the universe (yep, universe) have been speechless in joy and amazement at the gloriousness (there's that word again) of it. Amen.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lane Smith and Molly Leach and Jon Scieszka

Whew, there's cool stuff out there about Lane Smith and Molly Leach. Why wouldn't there be? How much cooler can you get than those two?  

"The Stinky Cheese Man" was my favorite, favorite book to read to the kiddos when I got to go into the library and be the library reading lady, many years ago. I'm still not sure the grownups at our good Catholic school appreciated my taste in books, but the Stinky Cheese Man himself was new and he rocked and he had the kids rolling in the aisles.  Still does, I am sure.  To top it off, Lane & Molly (& their friend, Jon Scieszka) have done lots of other good things since then. Including, because my kids would not forgive me forgetting this, "The Time Warp Trio." More on all of this, later.

The illustration is from an old book, and is by Walter Trier.  Happy Father's Day to all you Dads out there.  Gotta love the fig leaves, yes?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Good Fortune

Have been meaning to get this in...a few weeks ago, our dear friend Andrew Ogus sent an email about a book he highly recommended. If it was worth the email, it must be worth a read. (Andrew has terrific taste in books.) To quote:

"...wanted to draw your attention to...
by Jennifer I. Lee...
She proves that fortune cookies originated in Japan,
and discovers the best Chinese restaurant in a
strip mall in Vancouver. Highly recommended!"

So, there you go. Another book to add to the summer reading list! A thousand thanks to Andrew O.

Note: Jennifer has a blog: it looks pretty tasty, too.

on the sea of memory

By Jonathan Cott.  

I can't put this book down, and keep re-reading certain chapters.

I think this is a very, very important book. There is so much that is informative and illustrative and poetic about our memory and it's capabilities and...this was going to be a short post.  Here is where you can find out for yourself and get it.

{Quite sure there will be more on this later, here.}

Photo by Julia Cameron.

Artisitic and Intellectual Freedom and the Santa Cruz Fire. Of course.

Last night, we came home from Davis and--after we had gotten over the Sunol grade, i.e., starting down the hill into San Jose and environs--the sun, I am not lying or exaggerating here, people--was the color of a magenta-doused-maraschino cherry.  It was threatening (in that I couldn't stop looking at it and was driving on 280).  It was beautiful, but strange.  And Andrew, upon looking at it, said something to the effect that it was not a good color (it was a good color, I assure you, if you are photographer or illustrator or you just plain like color).  What he meant was that it didn't bode well, and he was right.  The sky, at the time, looked just a bit overcast and smoggy...but, as we drove further into San Jose, it became increasingly overcast and smudgy and--eventually--sadly foreboding. (Just as Drew saw the sun.)  The closer to the Santa Cruz mountains we drove, the deeper and smudgier the sky became...going from a dingy light gray to a biliously hovering almost-india ink color. 

It got worse. When we got off the highway and turned toward home, I thought it looked like a bowl of clear water into which someone had dumped a nasty huge shovelful of mud. {In truth, pardon my saying so, this is what it really looked like: a toilet into which a particularly gnarly diaper had been unloaded.} It was really beyond awful. 

And the whole time the magenta maraschino sun floated overhead, sometimes plopping into an inky browned-out cloud, but always re-emerging to glow ominously, bloatedly, within this poor sick sky.

It was the second Santa Cruz fire that did it.  You could barely breathe outside, the air was so scratchy. (This morning, there is a layer of soot on our cars. We live an hour away from Santa Cruz.)

Later, as the sun went down, I went back outside to check one more time: the sky looked the way a sky would after a village had been burned and ransacked by the Visigoths or the Nazis or Genghis Khan.  The best thing to do was close up the house (which had been done already), turn on the a.c., and go to bed.  And be glad that you are not trying to evade the Visigoths, or the Nazis, or Genghis Khan and his horde.

What does this have to do with art? Okay. Let's see. Thank God for intellectual and artistic freedom, and the fact that we don't have to worry about our village being burned down if we don't co-operate with the huns. There you go. If that seems far-fetched, put on your thinking cap and realize that, at this very moment, somewhere in the world, someone with great vision is not allowed to speak or write or draw in freedom. 

We can, and it is a way of life that I don't want to take for granted.

Photo is of Mary Steichen; good sky, huh?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I am, Clearly, a Beginner Stonemason-Word-Fitter. Whatever.

Like stones,
words are laborious and unforgiving,
and the
of them together,
like the fitting
of stones,
demands great
strength of purpose
particular skill.

Edmund Morrison

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Our Favorite Choreographer and NYC

This has everything to do with art books and children, because one of our children, who loves books, and is an incredible artist, is on her way to the big Apple right now and we are absolutely thrilled for her and cannot wait to visit (soon) and want to wish her all best, and cheers, and what have you. A grand adventure, for a grand girl. Here's to you, Vivian Catherine!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Great Article: Why don't we do it like the U.K. does it?

Hardbacks vs. Paperbacks, etc... And elsewhere, in the NYT, an article about e-books. With the interesting little tidbit that at least one of the publishers is sending out reps with these, and not the real-live books, because real-live books are too heavy.

Books will always exist, but isn't it clear--when the reps are carrying e-books--that there are big changes afoot, ones we must not ignore, ones that could bring many more books to children? We just have to mix it up a bit, and hope that the kiddies also get the real-live books to keep, lovingly, in their bedrooms.

Look, when you are on a four hour car trip six years from now with a three year old in the backseat, I want to know: will you have stacks of real-live books skittering all over the floor of the van, or will your ruddy-cheeked darling be reading a play-doh-colored, indestructably-lego-like e-book of her own? The giant bag of books is not going to win, do you think? Even the reps don't want it.

My older kids, now in college, used to have gray gameboys that felt like small bricks (old school gameboys, yes). How I would have loved those gameboys to be be e-books: portable, worthy of attention, and loaded with information. We had books in the car, too. But most of them didn't fit in my purse, and those clunky old-school gameboys did. Guess what came along with us when we got to our destination?

Bring on the play-doh-lego-style e-book.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Godspeed, Parker

Piping songs of pleasant glee,

'Pipe a song about a Lamb!'
So I piped with merry cheer.
'Piper, pipe that song again.'
So I piped: he wept to hear.

'Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer!'
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.

'Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read.'
So he vanished from my sight;
And I plucked a hollow reed,

And I made a rural pen,
And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.

William Blake

Monday, June 2, 2008

what is art.books.children?

Art.books.children is interested in 
children's books and art, 
& the people who write, illustrate, 
and care about these things.

Like you, for instance.

We like to think about the best art in 
the children's book world,
and where the children's book world is going. 

If you're reading this on the web, 
guess where we think a lot of it is going?

There's no attempt, whatsoever, at this time,
to include anyone other than great authors and illustrators
and thinkers,
and stuff,

and a few other things we think 
might appeal to you, because... 

as Eloise knows:
getting bored 
is not