It’s that time of the year when we all start to think about our favourite books that we’ve read during the year. Throughout this week I’ll be posting my lists of my Top 10 Picture Books, Middle Grade Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, and New Zealand Books of 2012. Here are my Top 10 Picture Books of 2012 (if you want to know more about the books you can read my reviews of most books on the blog).
Tag Archives: picture books
Everybody loves a cute animal photo, especially when it involves baby animals. The latest picture book by Corinne Fenton is filled with extremely cute photos of baby animals and it’s perfect for sharing snuggled up with your baby.
Corinne’s lovely text is from the point of view of a parent, telling their baby just how special, precious and unique they are. I love the positive message of the text and parents will love reading it to their baby. I also really like the layout of the text on the page and the way Corinne has used different colours for the text. The text is perfectly matched with some beautiful photos of baby animals, from pigs and rabbits, to monkeys and elephants. When the text talks about eyes and ears, the photos are of baby animals with unique eyes and ears. The photos are quite extraordinary and will make you laugh (especially the monkeys holding their breath) and make you go ‘awwww’ (especially the baby elephant running along). I love that there is lots of white space so the focus of you and your baby goes straight to the animals, and that the photos are quite large and close up so that you can see the unique features of the animals.
If you’re looking for that perfect book to give to a newborn baby or for a special book to give to your own baby this Christmas you can’t go past Hey Baby! by Corinne Fenton.
Scholastic New Zealand have released some wonderful new Christmas books this year, for children young and old. Grab a copy of these books to share with your children this Christmas.
Grandma McGarvey’s Christmas by Jenny Hessell, illustrated by Trevor Pye
It’s Christmas Eve, and Grandma McGarvey is excited to get her favourite spot in the camping ground, where she sets about putting up Christmas lights and making her festive preparations. But – oh no! Santa is sick! Will Grandma McGarvey save the day?
Grandma McGarvey’s Christmas is a wonderfully Kiwi Christmas story. Instead of an open fire there’s a camp fire, the kids are eating ice blocks, it’s warm and sunny, the pohutukawa tree is in bloom, and there’s a flying fox. Jenny Hessell’s rhyming text flows nicely and Trevor Pye’s wonderful illustrations portray a classic Kiwi Christmas.
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Star by P. Crumble, illustrated by Louis Shea
This festive take on There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Spider is full of silliness. This gummy, wrinkly old lady is quite scary and you would definitely want to run if she looked your way. Kids who know the traditional rhyme will think they know what is coming but it’s a surprise each time you turn the page to find out what she eats next. Kids will be laughing with each new thing she eats and the ending is especially fun. Look out for the cool holographic cover too.
The Twelve Dogs of Christmas and The Twelve Cats of Christmas by Kevin Whitlark
Whether you’re a dog or a cat person you’ll love these two different version of The Twelve Days of Christmas. In these two books you’ll find 3 Fluffy Persians, 6 Pooches Playing, 9 Pussycats Playing and 12 Dogs a’ Digging. They’re sure to appeal to kids, more than the original song, and everyone can join in the singing. The illustrations are hilarious and the pages get more and more crowded the more you go through the song.
The Gift by Penny Matthews, illustrated by Martin McKenna
This is my favourite Christmas book so far this year. It’s a lovely story with gorgeous, soft illustrations, and it has the cutest teddy bear on the front cover. It’s a story about friendship and hope, and it’s one of those stories that are perfect for snuggling up and reading at bedtime. You’ll want to Brown Bear home and give him a big cuddle. I love the illustrations, especially the one right near the end where Brown Bear sitting on the counter, gazing up with hope in his eyes.
The Mysterious Magical Shop by Elizabeth Pulford, illustrated by Rachel Driscoll
Even on ordinary days Hannah thought Mr McPherson’s second hand shop was somehow mysterious. But today, being Christmas Eve, it seemed even more so. And as she grasped the wooden doorknob and pushed open the door, she thought she heard the faint jingling of sleigh bells …What is the mystery behind the wee dancer trapped in the crystal ball? Could it be connected to her hunt for a Christmas tree fairy?
This is a Christmas story for older children, especially 7-9 year old girls who love stories about princesses, fairies and magic. It’s a short wee story told wonderfully by Elizabeth Pulford, with magical illustrations by Rachel Driscoll. I really like the mysterious character of Mr McPherson and his wonderful shop full of all sorts of curious objects.
The Mysterious Magical Shop is the perfect book to get you feeling all Christmasy.
Jon Klassen is an incredibly talented author and illustrator from the US. He writes and illustrates his own books, as well as illustrating others’ books. The first book he wrote and illustrated, I Want My Hat Back, has won many awards, including a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honour Award. His latest book, This is Not My Hat, is one of my favourite picture books of the year (you can read my review here). Today I’m joined by Jon Klassen on his This is Not My Hat Blog Tour. I asked Jon about his illustrations, his obsession with hats, and humour in his books.
How do you create your illustrations?
For I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat, I made the shapes of the plants and animals with black chinese ink and cut them out and scanned them into the computer and added color and detail to them afterwards. It’s a nice process because it lets you be loose and try a lot of things out and then choose your favorites and put them together in one illustration later.
Your illustrations have a very limited colour palette. Why do you choose these colours?
I don’t think I choose a limited palette on purpose, it’s just what I like, but for these stories it is useful because there are things that can get emphasized by strong color when it’s needed. Also I just like things to feel a little calm. I think you can get interesting stories that still feel like the colors aren’t firing on all cylinders all the time.
Both of your own stories (I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat) have focused on hats. What is your fascination with hats?
I try not to tie too much of myself into the books, but I do wear a hat a lot of the time. But I think, for these stories, hats are great because they are kind of unnecessary. The stories are about characters that want the hats badly, but not for any practical reason, so it becomes really emotional. Also, for younger readers, they are an easy thing to spot and a fun thing to see on a character who wants to put it on.
Your books feature subtle humour that children and adults love. How important is humour in picture books?
Thank you! I don’t think humor is totally necessary, but I think it’s hard to find a good picture book without it because the format sets up jokes so nicely with turning the page. It’s a great way to time a joke. Plus it’s hard to keep younger kids’ attention without either making them laugh or scaring them. I also think it’s a good sign when a story makes you laugh because it means other things are working well too, most of the time.
As well as an author and illustrator of picture books, what other hats do you wear?
I work on animated projects sometimes, though mostly as a concept or background illustrator, and sometimes I do editorial illustrations for newspapers and things. Last year I taught a class at Calarts, but those kids are too good.
Do you prefer writing and illustrating your own books or illustrating others’ books?
I like both. I think if you get an idea you like on your own, doing it all yourself is more exciting because you can really fine tune both sides of it, but I always really enjoy seeing the stuff that comes out of illustrating other people’s stories. Getting an assignment is always a different sort of challenge than just coming up with whatever you want, and you can dive into the illustrating right away.
It depends on the day, I guess, but if I’m honest, there are probably more small fish days than big fish days.
Thanks for joining me Jon! Make sure you join Elizabeth O. Dulemba on her blog tomorrow for the next stop on Jon’s blog tour.
Last year Scholastic NZ brought Kiwi legends, The Topp Twins, together with one of our top illustrators, Jenny Cooper, to produce a wonderful illustrated edition of the song, There’s a Hole in my Bucket. Now, this fantastic team have come together once again to produce a very cute and funny, illustrated edition of the song, Do Your Ears Hang Low.
Based on the original song, Do Your Ears Hang Low? is a new arrangement by The Topp Twins, that ties in perfectly with Jenny Cooper’s illustrations. I’d love to know what came first, the lyrics or the illustrations, because they’re made for each other. The Topp Twins’ lyrics are funny and you can add some easy actions for children to sing and play along. Who would have thought there were so many uses for big ears? The CD of the Topp Twins performing the song (that comes with the book) is a great addition to the book and it’s that classic Topp Twins sound that we love.
I absolutely love Jenny Cooper’s big-eared illustrations! They’re cute and made me crack up laughing. Jenny is amazing at capturing animals, especially the wrinkled skin of the dog and the curly fur of the llamas. The expressions on animals faces are hilarious too. I love the shock on the dogs face as the mouse ties up his ears, the mellow look on the llama’s face, and the expression of pure joy on the pig’s face. The animals all look so cuddly and loveable that you just want to give them a big hug. Book Design have also done a fantastic job of the design of the book, from the layout and size of the very cool font, to the flaps and the cute end papers.
As well as the wonderful song and illustrations, you also get the added extras of some strange, but true facts about ears. Do Your Ears Hang Low? is the perfect book for Kiwi kids with ears of all shapes and sizes.
4 out of 5 stars