As we were reading the “due and not renewable” library books one last time, I decided it would be a crime not to showcase a few of my favorite. (Would that I had the time to blog about them individually, but I’m just really not in that stage of life at the moment!)
Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova won my six-year-old’s heart (that would be the one who adores the emotionally complex). I can’t describe the illustrations nearly as well as my mother could–she has an art education degree–but they were lovely. What overwhelmed me, however, was the beauty of the text; it has a lyrical, haunting quality, especially at the beginning and the end. It manages to be poetic and yet convey a great deal of information about Pavlova’s life without seeming to, and it inspired my girls and me to search Youtube for footage of her dancing. (It was there, by the way, which is impressive–she died in 1931.)
ABC Dream (by Kim Krans) is the kind of text-less picture book that one most definitely still reads. Each letter of the alphabet is given 1-2 pages; the A page has an apple core being eaten by ants, another apple with arrows through it, and an argyle pattern within the A itself. My kiddos all enjoyed examining each page, and they certainly learned some new flower names (zinnia comes to mind!). Even adults will have to search, which makes it fun for everyone.
Pamela Zagarenski’s The Whisper has incredible illustrations, full of whimsical detail and fancy. A little girl who loves stories borrows a book from her teacher, but finds when she brings it home that it is only pictures, no words. A whisper on the wind tells her not to be disappointed, and sets her to using her imagination in delightful ways. The next day the words are returned to her–they had “spilled away”–by a visitor from a well-known story collection; it ends with a twist that delighted me.
All of these are well worth your time–I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!