Today Antoine de Saint-Exupery‘s name is synonymous with his most famous legacy: the small but mighty novella Le Petit Prince, which has been translated into over 250 languages and is one of the best-selling books ever published. For anyone else, such an achievement would probably be the highlight of their lives, so it speaks volumes that Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) was but a footnote in Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s incredible life.
Real-life everyday heroes deserve to have their stories told, and thanks to these two great picture books, kids can read about the inspiring Biblioburro — a travelling library that operates from the backs of two burros (donkeys) — from two different perspectives: that of the Biblioburro’s humble creator, primary-school teacher Luis Soriano, who started the ambitious initiative in La Gloria, Columbia, as a means for him to bring books to the children living in poor rural villages who have no access to any (in Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro); and that of a fictional little girl Ana, who lives in one of these small villages that the Biblioburro travels to (in Monica Brown and John Parra’s Waiting for the Biblioburro).
The recent trend of high-quality picturebook biographies is one that I hope will continue, since there’s nothing more edifying than learning about the inspiring lives of real people. These artists’ biographies are particularly apt for the picturebook medium since their life’s work is pictorial by nature. The authors and illustrators of these books have also done a fantastic job of capturing the essence of the artists and their unique visions.
To describe this book as ‘lovely’ or ‘NICE’ would be understating it, to put it mildly. Thankfully, there’s also ‘marvellous’, ‘awe-inspiring’, ‘breathtaking’, ‘remarkable’… — just a few examples of the more than a dozen more accurate words that may be used to convey the accomplishment that is this non-fiction picture book.
In order to create art, let alone great art, one must be daring and imaginative, and see the world in a resolutely different way. As such, it’s no surprise that great artists are often described as ‘eccentric’ since they don’t compromise their point of view to conform to plebeianistic expectations. And thank goodness for that.
Channeling the spirit of the artist in question, Picasso’s Trousers is a refreshingly original and entertaining child-friendly biography that is spot-on in its humorous approach to introducing to kids one of most groundbreaking artists who ever lived.
Most people have probably heard of the great French artist Henri Matisse, or even seen his renowned paintings, but unless you’re a fan of art history, that’s probably about all that you know of him or his life — which would be, as we discovered through this book, a real shame.
Henri’s Scissors is a beautiful biography of the artist, offering not just a glimpse into his creative and artistic genius, but also his indomitable spirit and inner strength.