Perfect Pages duo: Me and My Mom! & So Many Days

These two titles are paired together for me because while they differ in look and feel, the rich, textural artwork of these picture books deal with water and the fluid expression thereof. Also, there's an abundance of Alison!

Book: Me and My Mom!

Author: Alison Ritchie

Illustrator: Alison Edgson 

Publisher: Good Books (US) and Little Tiger Press (UK)

Published: 2009

This book was recommended to me by one of the very helpful people at Mrs. Figs' Bookworm. It instantly appealed to me because of the art: very sweet, textural, and fluffy! Every page makes you wish you were there, running your hands in the soft fur of these two bears. The art is both ethereal and luminous, with a graceful dance across the pages, just as the lyrical words flow across the tongue. The mother bear glides gracefully through the water in my favorite spread, while the little bear follows with an adorable awkwardness. This is definitely a good choice for a slightly belated Mother's Day book.

Soft colors and light make this perfect page.

Soft colors and light make this perfect page.

Book: So Many Days

Author: Alison McGhee

Illustrator:  Taeeun Yoo

Publisher:  Atheneum

Published: 2010

The moment I saw this book, I loved it. From the typography to the imagery to the story, this hits all the right notes for me. Graphic textures, white space, a cute puppy sidekick, exploratory adventures. It's ALL good. The perfect pages do not come in the form of a double page spread this time, but two images that mirror each other both in their similarities--boat, water, two characters--and differences: light vs dark, struggle vs solution, looking back vs looking forward. These two pages excel at the key elements of a good picture book: pacing and emotional connection. 

Taeeun's artwork is breathtaking throughout the entire book both for it's detail and it's restraint. The nice copyright/colophon page at the end of the book reveals the typeface (Century Gothic) as well as the art technique: linocuts manipulated digitally. Yet again, I have a strong desire to take a print-making class. 

A study in contrasts.

A study in contrasts.

Perfect Pages: Up Above and Down Below

Book: Up Above and Down Below

Author/Illustrator: Paloma Valdivia

Publisher: Owlkids Books

Published: 2009; translation: 2011

I found this charming book earlier this year at a bookstore in Santa Cruz. The quirky simplicity of the illustrations and the page layout throughout the book is what appealed to me. That, and the giraffe. So naturally, the perfect pages in the book for me were when I found the giraffe again and realized he was paired with an elephant! What could be better? 

This book uses the concept of two "worlds" to show diversity--the above world and the below world. While the worlds dynamically mirror each other, they are still each unique and different--as unique and different as a giraffe and elephant. Even the placement of the typography is a mirror in a way, with text falling both above and below the central line. Rich in texture, rich in story, rich in simplicity--this is a fun read.


Perfect Pages: Exclamation Mark

While I thoroughly enjoyed doing my first book review last month, I've been thinking for a while about a slightly different type of review, centered around the visuals of a picture book based on a single spread, the "perfect pages" of each book that capture the essence of the book. I will do my best not to include spoiler pages.

So I will start with a bang! ...or an exclamation!

Book: Exclamation Mark
Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Published: 2013

There was only one possible choice for me when I read this book. While the entire book is sheer genius in its simplicity of design and complexity of concept, I need not go further than the title page--excuse me, title SPREAD--to find my perfect pages. You can't not love an 18-inch exclamation mark! This is honed simplicity at its finest, and it is carried on through the entire book, to the very last page that you won't want to miss.

The author-illustrator duo uses a make-the-rules/break-the-rules placement of both words and pictures to ensure that the reader vividly experiences exactly what the characters experience as the story grows. This is a story teaching both punctuation and individuality in a boldly visual way. Parents can happily read it to their children knowing that it is educational as well as it is fun!