Picture Book of the Week monthly recap: April
The Carousel of Animals
Gérard Lo Monaco, translated from the French
Originally published in France to accompany an album by superstar singer for children Henri Dés, this beautiful pop-up book is a real marvel of design. The book unfolds 360˚ to create a beautiful carousel and while readers open it, more animals are uncovered, animated by the different pieces of paper engineering. A ribbon enables the carousel to stay open, and there is even a little hook at the top to hang it up. With only sparse text at the beginning, this book really is all about admiring the clever engineering and elegant, boldly coloured artwork. While there is a definite vintage feel to the theme and artwork, the bold neon colours allow to retain a contemporary feel also. An ingenious, beautiful piece of paper art.
Out, Out, Away from Here
Rachel Woodworth (text) & Sang Miao (artwork)
(Flying Eye Books)
Emotions can be overwhelming and the narrator describes to readers, in the first person, what a rollercoaster it is sometimes : some days she feels sad, some days she smiling-ear-to-ear-glad. But when things get too much, her way to calm down, to put things back into perspective is to step away from the situation and spend time on her own and reconnect with her imagination. The text is very sparse, with the reasons for her emotions found in the bold and colourful artwork, such as a new sibling, or parents arguing (an intense and powerful spread, and a scene still quite unusual in picturebooks). This is a thoughtful exploration of self-awareness, and looking after ourselves, which is well-pitched for the target audience and which will undoubtedly spark discussions.
Looking After William
Mummy’ is in charge of William today, and must look after him (he needs a lot of attention), but in this clever tale of role reversal, Mummy turns out to be a little girl and William, her father. Coy’s gorgeous watercolours depict scenes of everyday family life with warmth and gentleness while not shying away from the not so glamourous reality of looking after a child. Seen through the eye of the little girl who is also the narrator, this different approach to child-parent relationship brings a really unusual, humorous (I love the girl’s perspective on the tripping incident) and often very endearing perspective on family life and how we see each other. Beautifully packaged with gorgeous debossed features, this will make a gorgeous gift for Father’s Day an beyond.
When’s my Birthday?
Julie Fogliano (text) & Christian Robinson (artwork)
Birthdays can be really slow to come by when you are little, as the heroine is realising, fantasizing not only about when it will happen but also what might happen on the day. The parse, melodic text works perfectly as a read aloud, and the verse successfully emulates a child’s speech. The multimedia collage artwork is striking, with a gorgeous palette of colours, often quite dark, which works really well. The artwork has a tinge of vintage as well as being vibrant, modern and inclusive. I love the tall, unusual format of the book, perfect for illustrations of candles and birthday cakes. It is superb, perfectly pitched and will be a wonderful read to ease some of the sometimes overwhelming anticipation as birthdays approach.