The Jacket is a meta book that confirms what bibliophiles have long suspected: yes, of course books have feelings and thoughts!
In a sense, wordless picture books are like frames excerpted from a silent movie, telling a story in their own quiet way. Because there are no words to guide the reader along and explain the sequence of events, such books are a true test of the illustrator’s storytelling vision and artistic abilities — although, here, Marla Frazee‘s considerable talents are such that she makes it all seem almost effortless.
One of the reasons why I love reading classic picture books is that they are usually refreshingly unpredictable. Also, they weren’t afraid to be a little politically incorrect sometimes, which made for highly original and entertaining stories.
The opening line of this book is an intriguing question: “Do you know Petit?” This sets the tone for the rest of this quirky story by Argentine author and illustrator Isol, which attempts to make sense of some of the confounding dichotomies of life from a little boy’s point of view — the most pertinent question being whether it is possible to be both good and bad at the same time.
Accompanied by bouncy and rhythmic rhyming prose, readers tag alongside Samuel Drew and his pull-along toy dog as they take a long walk — the boy on foot and the dog on wheels! — through the busy streets of London.
One of my favourite recent random finds is this out-of-print gem that ingeniously plays on the misleading ‘hybrid’ names that some animals have, to produce a funny yet factual read.
What begins as a simple bus ride for a girl and her red balloon quickly turns into a mini adventure when she accidentally allows her red balloon to float out of the purposefully open-topped bus.
In contrast to the aptly wintry and languid atmosphere that permeates its pages, this beautifully illustrated book spins an imaginative and heartwarming story about how — instead of holing up somewhere and hibernating — a motley group of animals in the Northern Forest make like migratory birds and escape the bitter cold by catching a special train that will bring them to the Southern Forest.
Children have a natural attraction to and affinity for animals. Thus, true to its title, I Like Animals is a wistful expression of the innocent desires of a child who simply yearns to be with (more) animals. And naturally — in kid logic, that is — this means owning a zoo and/or a pet shop, and/or becoming a farmer or a woodsman when he grows up. (Ah, to be a child again with boundless optimism and no notion of practical limits/considerations!)