Jonathan Bentley has written and illustrated a playful picture book about a toddler who wishes to be big, like his older brother. The boy imagines what it might be like to have "big legs like a giraffe," "big hands like a gorilla," and a "big mouth like a crocodile," and finds that there are strategic advantages to being little. The images of the large animals are both dramatic and comic. The pictures, created with “watercolors, pencils, and scanned textures,” are loose and lively. This is a fast, fun read aloud.
Originally published in Dutch, MIKIS AND THE DONKEY takes place on the Greek island of Corfu. Mikis, a boy of about eight, often visits his grandparents on the hill.
One day his grandfather surprises him with a donkey. To Mikis, Tsaki the donkey is a friend. But to his grandfather she is a “tractor with four legs.”
The grandfather piles firewood so high in Tsaki's baskets, that her belly is cut by the weight. Mikis and the village doctor force the grandfather to change the cold-hearted way in which he thinks about the donkey.
When Mikis and his friend Elena take Tsaki to meet another donkey, the two donkeys get along “really, really well.”
Mikis spends his summer vacation making a new stable for Tsaki. But the donkey refuses to enter her new home until her foal is placed inside.
Sketchy brown on ivory drawings depict the countryside, village square, classroom, and funny old faces. The loopy, loose lines are both detailed and airy.
Short chapters and colorful characters make this an easy read. The relationships—between family members, between the sweet/vulnerable teacher and her students, and between villagers—are distinctive and ring true. Love and understanding win out.
What's hot in the publishing world this minute? Coloring books for all ages, and here are a few fun ones from Free Period Press. Full of patterns, scrummy flowers (by Caty Zocco) and animals ('Creative Creatures' by illustrator Melanie Mikecz), and they've also created sets of colorable prints, produced on thicker paper. Teachers can download a free PDF for the classroom, too. Check it all out here…
Spanish author Daniel Nesquens has written a goofy short chapter book about a talking hippo's quest to return home to his jungle in Africa. Mr. H, the hippopotamus, asks a young zoo visitor to open his cage so he can leave his unfulfilling life in captivity.
The path to the jungle is an urban one filled with traffic, a mysteriously acquired suit and tie, fun in the park, and dining in a fancy pizza restaurant. The hippo and the plot meander (in a good, Syd Hoff kind of way) and the story comes to an open-ended/existential ending.
The confident, airy and stylish paintings by Luciano Lozano are reminiscent of Roger Duvoisin and Miroslav Šašek, with a little James Marshall in there too, and add to the breezy feel of the story.
I love the work of children's illustrator Victoria Semykina Antolini, and now she has a superb project which needs a little help getting off the ground. She has a Kickstarter project and charming video for 'The Real Boat' a story about a little boat who dreams of the sea. The finished product will be a gorgeous, collaged and interactive, animated delight and it's just waiting to be launched, so please help her out!