There have been so many wonderful things about being a new(ish) mom again. All the “big” things, of course, but even the little things too. Like books.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been immersed in children’s books and I am loving it. Bringing out all of Chelsea’s and Conor’s old books has been beyond joyful. I’ll remember a particular time or place associated with a story, and Noah already knows which books were Chelsea’s and which were Conor’s – he always smiles broadly when he tells me.
I’ve also had the chance to bring some great new books into our home. Books that I missed the first time around, or have come out since my big guys were little. Here are my very favorites:
He described his style as “minimal realism”, creating drawings that are distilled down to the most basic elements, yet are filled with rich colors and details: “I don’t see the feathers in the wings. I just count the wings”.
Todd Oldham (hello!!) worked with Harper toward the end of his life to put together a monograph of his work, which is on my list of books to own.
Leo Lionni’s Frederick and Little Blue and Little Yellow I adore Leo Lionni. His work is both charming and sophisticated all at the same time (probably because he was a graphic designer in the 50’s…). And his stories. It was hard to narrow down to just two but these really stand out for me.
Lionni conceived of Little Blue and Little Yellow (his first book) on a train ride home from the city with his grandchildren. In an effort to keep them entertained he grabbed a Life magazine out of his briefcase and began tearing little bits of yellow, blue and green paper. He used his briefcase as a table and began to narrate a story.
Frederick is just the most lovely example of that genre of story where the “quiet” one makes the loudest statement: “While the other mice gather grain and nuts for winter, Frederick “gathers” sun rays, colors and words. When the food runs out, it is Frederick, the dreamer and poet, whose endless store of supplies warms the hearts of his fellow mice, and feeds their spirits during the darkest winter days.”
Chelsea was so enamored of this story that we also owned the video:
They began being re-issued in 2003 and I’m now addicted. Look at these illustrations!
Miroslav Sasek started creating travel guides for children after being inspired on a trip to Paris. The pages are densely illustrated, filled with facts, and feel like a romp through a 1960’s Rock Hudson/Doris Day movie (and I mean this in the best possible way!). The original books are available through eBay and vintage booksellers but many have been re-issued. The newer versions are neat because they include updated facts about the city in the back.
Mitsumasa Anno’s Anno’s Counting Book This wordless book teaches the concept of numbers and counting to very young children.
Each page represents a number, reflected through the illustrations on that page. The passing of the seasons and flat, water colored drawings literally slow your pace as you read – making the sharing of the book such a rich experience. And because there are no words, the book ‘reads’ slightly different each time – one of the best features of a children’s book, in my opinion.
Peter Spier’s Noah’s Ark Ironically, this book was huge in our house when C&C were little – who knew I’d have a “real” Noah one day? There are clearly many many versions of this story but this is my favorite. We discovered it first through the video (with narration by James Earl Jones and music by Stewart Copeland, can you possibly go wrong?), and then fell in love with the richly detailed illustrations in the book.
There is warmth and humor spread through this wordless version, and it’s truly adorable when Noah asks if he can watch the “Noah Movie”.
Not surprisingly a few of my favorite bloggers have also written recently about children’s books. Melanie Biehle of Inward Facing Girl has not one but two great posts. I love the list that Isabel Kalman of Alpha Mom put together too. And Sandra Harris from Raincoast Cottage paired with Creative Play to start a whole series on the topic – here’s the first post!
Please share your most beloved children’s books with me – I am always looking for great new choices for Noah!