Continuing our look at the CKG nominations prior to next week’s shortlist announcement, Lizzie Ryder’s second instalment of committee members’ reactions to the Greenaway longlist…
One Gorilla: A Counting Book by Anthony Browne (Walker Books)
Anthony Browne takes the format of the counting book and takes it to new depths. This book is something of a rare gem that you’ll want to keep going back to and pouring over – you’ll find something new each time. What begins as a simple learn your numbers to ten book becomes a vehicle for a quite profound and important message and in looking at these animals so closely we are left with a real sense of respect and connection.
Open Very Carefully by Nicola O’Byrne (illustrator) and Nick Bromley (author) (Nosy Crow)
From the publisher: What would you do if you were settling down for a quiet bedtime story and you realised that a crocodile had fallen out of one story and into yours and was – not to put too fine a point on it – furious? Would you slam that book shut, cram it in the bookshelf for evermore or would you be brave enough to peek? This crocodile has ended up in totally the wrong book, so he proceeds to eat his way out in this fantastic debut picture book of a very grumpy croc as he tries to escape a storybook that is all wrong for him but is great fun for the reader! This is a lovely book for sharing and discussing how words and pictures work. Check out the preview.
Have you read this book? Let us know what you thought!
The Paper Dolls by Rebecca Cobb (illustrator) and Julia Donaldson (author) (Macmillan Children’s Books)
The Paper Dolls consists of simple, sweet illustrations from which the two dimensional paper dolls spring to life, effortlessly depicting themes of imagination and memory. Alternate pages show the story from two viewpoints: the little girl playing with her paper dolls in the real world and the game from the dolls’ perspective; and thus support and further develop the text. Of significant note is the double page spread showing snippets of “lovely things” from the little girl’s memory, including bunting, cakes and a kind granny. Delightful book, essential illustrations.
Weasels by Elys Dolan (Nosy Crow)
Picture book for young and old – especially lads and dads. The illustrations are so funny, with a big nod to James Bond movies and world domination by the weasels. The detail on each double page spread is fascinating and very well observed. The facial expressions of each weasel are brilliant and their comments about the state of the coffee are so right!
Puss Jekyll Cat Hyde by Jill Barton (illustrator) and Joyce Dunbar (author) (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
A combination of beautiful, luminous artwork and poetic text which explores the two very different personalities of the domestic cat. Read a review here.
Time for Bed, Fred! by Yasmeen Ismail (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
Bursting with character and colour it’s hard to resist the mischievous Fred. Well versed in diversionary tactics Fred tries every trick in the book in order to put off the inevitable bedtime. The bright palette of watercolours and loose lines lend the action a vibrancy and energy that aptly convey Fred’s character as well as the narrator’s indulgent affection.
The Day the Crayons Quit by Oliver Jeffers (illustrator) and Drew Daywalt (author) (HarperCollins Children’s Books)
A NY Times bestseller, this humorous and well-observed tale is brought to life by Oliver Jeffers’ illustrations. Written as a series of letters to their owner Duncan, the Crayons tell of their disenchantment and waning motivation: Red is feeling overworked what with all the extra holiday obligations (all those Santas and Valentines hearts), Yellow and Orange are in the middle of a longstanding feud about which should be considered the colour of the sun and morose Beige complains of always playing second fiddle to Mr Brown crayon. It’s great fun and cleverly executed – Jeffers’ childlike illustrations and handwritten typography are the perfect accompaniment to this inventive text.
The Dark by Jon Klassen (illustrator) and Lemony Snicket (author) (Orchard Books)
Use of light (and indeed dark!) is both scene setting and emotive in Klassen’s superb illustrations. With something of the cleverly lit film noir about them, the illustrations create almost filmic set pieces in which we view the action from multiple perspectives. As the sun sets and shadows descend on the house, Lazlo’s constricted torch beam is our only guide through the inky dark and creeping dread that swamps entire double page spreads. Klassen’s illustrations are a stroke of genius, beautifully executed. Watch the book trailer here.
This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (Walker Books)
A second nomination for Klassen this time as author and illustrator. Similar in style and tone to last year’s shortlisted I Want My Hat Back, This is Not My Hat is already a 2013 Caldecott Medal Winner. With only two characters it is a perfect example of illustrations extending the text. Narrated by a little fish who tells us “This hat is not mine, I stole it”, we discover that the hat in question was misappropriated from a sleeping but very large fish. While the little fish is assuring the reader that the big fish is probably going to sleep for a while, the illustrations show that the fish is in fact now awake. You can see where this is going and the darkly mischievous ending doesn’t disappoint. Watch the book trailer here.
Where My Wellies Take Me by Olivia Lomenech Gill (illustrator) and Clare and Michael Morpurgo (authors) (Templar)
Quite different from the other longlisted titles, Where My Wellies Take Me is a collection of favourite poetry chosen by former children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare. Woven around the poetry selection is the story of Pippa, who loves to stay with her Aunty Peggy in the Devon countryside. With gatefolds, transparent overlays and mixed media spreads there’s a real sense of a collection of fragments that have been brought together into a ‘treasury’. Get a closer look at the Guardian children’s books site.
Mysterious Traveller by P. J. Lynch (illustrator) and Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham (authors) (Walker Books)
Very much in the same tradition of the 2012 shortlisted Cloud Tea Monkeys, the husband and wife team of Peet and Graham tell a grand Arabian Nights-esque tale. Evocative of Rackham or Dulac, P.J. Lynch’s illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the narrative. The watercolour and gouache paintings convey the mystery and foreboding of the narrative as well as the shifting nature of the desert. Indeed, the illustrations are particularly successful at conjuring the atmosphere – to look at them is to feel the desert air on your face.
Mouse Bird Snake Wolf by David McKean (illustrator) and David Almond (author) (Walker Books)
Another corker of a book from the ‘dream team’ that is Almond and McKean. It’s a kind of creation myth that explores ideas of childhood, imagination and creativity. Mckean’s illustrations are as thought provoking as Almond’s story –his depiction of the creative process, of the ideas that bloom and geminate and fill the ‘gaps’ in the world is breath taking. There’s so much to say about this genuinely thought provoking book but you’d be better off just grabbing yourself a copy and seeing for yourself!
The Crocodile Who Didn’t Like Water by Gemma Merino (Macmillan Children’s Books)
Little crocodile doesn’t like water but all of his brothers and sisters love it! As he watches his siblings larking in the river and splashing in the bath he tries and tries again to get over his aversion but it’s no use – water is just not for him. Things reach breaking point with a last ditch attempt to join in the fun and results in a moment of self-discovery. Humorous and full of charm, the illustrations are as endearing as the little crocodile’s perseverance. With its varied layouts and the end papers which both preface and extend the story, this book utilises every inch of space. It’s got a beautiful muted colour palette that feels very contemporary but which is particularly good at conveying the essence of both the setting and the reptilian hero. A fun read!
The Journey Home by Frann Preston-Gannon (Pavilion Children’s Books)
From Julia Eccleshare, Lovereading4kids:
A thought-provoking story with a powerful message about conservation from an award-winning, rising illustrator and literary star. It is the first book by the first-ever UK recipient of the amazing ‘Sendak Fellowship’. It’s the story of a polar bear who heads off in a boat looking for somewhere new to live and on the way he picks up other endangered friends including an orangutan, an elephant and a panda to name just three.
Though the Greenaway judges won’t be interested in comparing Abigail to previous work, I think it’s fair to say that the colour palette of this latest offering marks a bit of a departure for Catherine Rayner. Gone are the pastel colours and subtle hues and instead we have the rich purples, burnt reds and star studded indigo of a twinkly night sky which all combine to superbly evoke the African Savannah. As you would expect, there is also consummate use of white space and perspective. The counting element to the story is lightly done and deftly interwoven with the illustrations. She excels at animal expression and body language to convey character and communicate emotions to young readers and there’s character a plenty here. She’s always worth considering for the Greenaway!
The Lemur’s Tale by Ophelia Redpath (Templar)
From the publisher: A ring-tailed lemur is stowed away on a boat from Madagascar, and eventually ends up in the home of an eccentric but dysfunctional family. His night-time antics cause confusion, as he nibbles on the family’s plants and raids their larder. But he brings great joy once they discover him curled up in a teapot, filling a little girl’s life with hope and happiness.
Check out Inis Magazine’s lovely review
Oliver by Birgitta Sif (Walker Books)
A stunning picture book debut that celebrates the power of the imagination and the strength of friendship. It is a book that demands re-reading – the quirky illustrations are so packed with detail…look out for the mouse and the girl in the red dress!
Jemmy Button by Jennifer Uman and Valerio Vidali (illustrators) and Alix Barzelay (author) (Templar)
The cover alone will make you want to pick this book up! Inspired by the life of Jemmy Button – a native of Tierra del Fuego who was brought to England in the mid-1800s to be “educated” and “civilised” by Captain Robert FitzRoy – this book illustrates Jemmy’s bizarre encounters and his return back home. Collaborating across continents, without a common language, Vidali and Uman have created a very special book. Moving from the verdant greens and starry nights of Tierra del Fuego to the metropolitan hustle and bustle of London, the figure of Jemmy is always set apart, “almost at home. Almost, but not quite”: the illustrations eloquently conveying the awe, longing and guilt implicit in the narrative.
Too Noisy! by Ed Vere (illustrator) and Malachy Doyle (author) (Walker Books)
A heart-warming read-aloud (shout-aloud!) comedy about a very noisy family and a very quiet middle child … who just wants some PEACE! Ed Vere’s illustrations are a brilliant depiction of ‘noise’ – the hustle and bustle of a family and the quiet murmurings of the countryside. Lively and quirky they match the text perfectly.
Sidney, Stella and the Moon by Emma Yarlett (Templar)
From the publisher: This debut picture book is a tour-de-force of the imagination by exciting new talent Emma Yarlett. Twins Sidney and Stella love doing everything together… everything except sharing. When a quarrel over a bouncy ball spells moon-sized disaster, the twins must face their biggest ever challenge: working together to find a new moon!
Have you read this book? Let us know your thoughts…