FABULOUS FIVE: Lucy Volpin presents five picturebooks that deal with awkward subjects
Lucy Volpin burst on the picturebook scene last year with We Love Dinosaurs! (Nosy Crow), which was followed earlier this summer with Crocodali (Templar)
We Love Dinosaurs introduced us to Volpin’s beautiful warm watercolours; with its rhythmic text and array of creatures, it is a true delight for young wannabe paleontologists.
In Crocodali, young readers find themselves in Crocodali’s studio and he is not too happy about it, because he is busy creating a masterpiece. But he soon asks for the reader’s help, needing the book tilted to move his canvas to the right angle. Things, however, don’t quite go to plan, and turn to chaos after a bit too much turning and shaking on the reader’s part.
Drawing readers in by addressing them directly in tge text, Volpin creates an interactive tale which is not only very funny but also allows children to think about art and creativity. This can work on several levels according to the age of the reader, going as far as talking about abstract art and of course, Salvador Dali (Crocodali’s mustache is a wonderful little nod to the abstract master), but also Pollock. The gorgeous endpapers are reminiscent of Crocodali’s work, but also showing younger children that their art is worthy and beautiful too:
Wonderfully engaging, Crocodali is a positive story about art, creating it and appreciating it.
I am delighted to welcome Lucy to Library Mice for a fabulous five feature on book
Five Fabulous Picture Books that deal with awkward subjects
by Lucy Volpin
Children love to ask questions! So here are my top 5 books that can help explain and satisfy their little inquisitive minds on perhaps some of the more tricky topics they like to ask, and to help parents initiate these important conversations with their little ones.
Mummy Laid an Egg
The classic question…where do babies come from? A usual response is often…err..go ask your Mother/Father/Grandma. ‘Mummy Laid an Egg’ by Babette Cole (1995) is one of my very favourites that teaches children about the birds and the bees in a funny, but not silly way. Full of wonderfully illustrated characters and simple explanations. A great book for children who are wondering why Mummy’s belly is getting rather large.
The Red Tree
‘Red Tree’ by Shaun Tann is not only a wonderful book that deals with the subject of sadness and depression, it is a work of art! A simply beautiful, thought provoking book, Shaun Tann captures the emotion and atmosphere of sadness in a way that children can understand using surrealism and simple, subtle vocabulary with a lovely uplifting ending. This is a great book that can be read with your child, allowing them to discuss their feelings and the feelings of others, and for anyone who is going through a difficult time themselves.
Grandad’s Island by Benji Davies is a beautifully comforting book that can help when there has been a bereavement in the family. The illustrations are vivid and engaging, the relationship between the granddad and grandson is very relatable, the story is carefully structured, and it finishes with a lovely message and usually a cuddle. Grief can be a tricky subject when it comes to young child due to lack of understanding and experience. This book can be a real help.
Five Minutes’ Peace
Jill Murphy is one of my all time favourite illustrators from my childhood, and Five Minutes’ Peace is a great example of her work. Full of giggles, especially the bath scene and ending, this book gives a real insight into how hard parents work, the importance of having your own time and re-assures that it is OK for mum and dad to have a life too! A great aid to help little ones learn respect of personal time and to think about others. It might even encourage children to help out around the house…might.
And to finish off with another classic question, ‘why can’t I keep this slug as a pet?’. I love Wild by Emily Hughes. With its slightly gritty, atmospheric illustrations, it approaches the idea of taking something so wonderfully wild and trying to change it to something that fits our grey concrete world. A little hint of Tarzan, this book not only encourages respect and appreciation for nature but questions the word ‘normal’, if there is such a thing, and so is also a great book for building self confidence too! It’s good to be a little wild now and again. We are animals after all. Let wild things be!
Many thanks for sharing these Lucy, what a great selection!
Crocodali is out now and can be purchased here.