We are very much enjoying these two clever board books: from art publishers Phaidon is Before & After by Jean Julien, My Pictures After the Storm by Eric Veille, is from Gecko Press.
You probably get the idea of the main theme, the plot as it were, of the books but they are delightfully illustrated, with sophisticated examples that will draw a smile from old and young alike. Before & After looks simpler:
but introduces some interesting philosophical ideas:
My Pictures After the Storm shows a page of pictures before something happens to them, like a storm, or a playfight, or a trip to the hairdresser, and then the effect on the pictures:
My favourite might be after the elephant, here in the original French (elephant/éléphant the effect is the same…
Our bestest books this week might be Bathtime for Little Rabbit by Jorg Muhle, the riveting sequel to Tickle My Ears.
These interactive charmers are perfect for the youngest members of the family; In the first, you follow the rituals of getting ready for bed, getting the reader or the read-to, to participate with face-cleaning, pyjama-buttoning and finally, ear-tickling. Then in the sequel, you get to help with bathtime. swooshing the bubbles, rescuing rabbit when he gets water in his eyes, drying him off, and then, when the hairdryer breaks, blowing his ears dry.
Deeply satisfying, with the child-taming lessons about going to bed and keeping clean hidden in the lovely illustrations and simple stories like zuchinni in a chocolate cake: so delicious they’ll just eat it up…
We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen is the third in his hilarious and edgy picture book series, that is a masterclass in humanistic ethics – and sharp lessons in crime and punishment – for three-year-olds. So funny you laugh until you cry, while at the same time poignant and deeply satisfying, it is the tale of two turtles who find a hat, together. They do everything together. They share. The hat is lovely. It looks good on both of them. But there is only one hat. There are two turtles. What to do? Is it fair to share? What if one doesn’t want to share?
The wanting and needing that ensue, the plotting and betrayal, the fantastic – and unexpectedly lovely ending (this series, including I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat has a very dark edge usually, so I was expecting retribution, if not death) – are all brilliantly conveyed by the expressive eyes of the otherwise impassive turtles.
Remember when you were very small and you wanted what you wanted so much you could burst? This taps right into those primitive MINE! feelings, and the clever plotting (and justifying of your bad actions) that you indulged in to achieve your aim.
At the moment, what I really, really want is this book – you will too, just look at the book trailer. Good thing there is more than one copy.
We all know honey bees are in a precarious position, which is awful, not just for them, but for humans, who depend on them for the polllination of so much of what we eat. So the new book by Piotr Socha, The Book of Bees, from art book publisher Thames & Hudson is truly a delight. Gorgeous to look at, stuffed full as a hive with honey, with facts and fables about bees and their lives with – and before – humans, it fairly hums with life. Whether your thing is bees or beautifully designed books, this book hits the sweet spot.
And, while we are on the topic, hooray for the lovely new jacket (the original, right, is not bad either…), from Vintage Classics, of The Sting in the Tale, Dave Goulson’s story of his passionate drive to reintroduce the short-haired bumblebee, once commonly found in the marshes of Kent, and driven to extinction in Britain by intensive farming practices, to its native land. The cover is designed by Timorous Beasties, the Scottish studio famous for their designs inspired by the natural world, Vintage has got them to do several in their Birds & Bees range of natural history classics…
Beatrix Potter with special new covers by five British fashion designers!
These are really gorgeous, and make the range feel fresh and very modern – and lets be honest, when you read them again as an adult some of these stories are startlingly modern in their sensibility, some are rather odd, often violent (those two bad mice!) and most have an often overlooked anarchism and a touch of sinister, macabre delight in the various scrapes their protagonists get into – there is no sugar coating for delicate littlies the fact that Peter Rabbit (check out his slouchy bad-boy self on the new cover) could just as easily be in a pie, or that Squirrel Nutkin loses his lovely tail for being cheeky. In the manuscript that was discovered last year, which has just been published, Kitty-In-Boots, Kitty’s owner is worried that Kitty has been taken to be turned into a muff. Ugh.
So far they have only done five covers (the publishers haven’t fiddled with the insides, which would be a step too far, they’d all lose their tails) but I hope they do more…
Bob the Artist is such a cool book. The brilliant Marion Deuchars has done it again: a clever, witty and charming book that’ll enchant not just the 3-year-olds it is aimed at but any adult you give it to as well.
Bob is mostly like his friends but his legs are skinnier than theirs. He is teased about them, and so he tries to change them, by exercising, eating heaps and disguising them:
Then Bob discovers another amazing part of himself that is different to what his friends look like – one which lets him create art:
And Bob never worries about his differences again.
Timeline: A Visual History of Our World by Peter Goes is a magnificent book, perfect for inquisitive kids and design-minded adults. It does what it says on the cover but very beautifully and cleverly. Using just enough text and imaginative drawings Goes explores the end of the dinosaurs, the Incas, the European Dark Ages, the Second World Unpleasantness, Space Travel, the 1960s, up to the 2010s, teasing out the big themes that shape world history. The paper stock is a lovely heavy cartridge, which adds to the sense that this is a very special book.