Picture Book of the Week monthly recap: February 2019
When Sadness Comes to Call
Sometimes Sadness comes to visit. There might not be any reason for its appearance, but suddenly it is everywhere, wherever you go, whatever you do. But what would happen if rather than fight it, you embraced it? With a limited colour palette and lots of white space, the artwork in this début picturebook is particularly effective at highlighting emotions; the body language of the characters for example speaks volumes. Teamed with sparse text, this offers a great open, safe space for discussion. The narrative carries a powerful message about acknowledging one’s emotions and learning to live with them, rather than shut them away. The endpapers are equally powerful, framing and mirroring the narrative perfectly. Full of compassion, this is a gentle yet honest exploration of mental health for young readers.
Harold Snipperpot’s Best Disaster Ever
Beatrice Alemagna (translated by Edward Gauvin)
(Thames & Hudson)
Harold has never had a birthday party because his parents are far too grumpy. But as he is about to turn seven, everything changes, thanks to the enigmatic Mr Ponzio. The celebration turns into chaos, but sometimes chaos is what is needed to make everything right again. Alemagna’s quirky busy mixed-media spreads convey wonderfully the pandemonium created by the arrival of the animals, and this also aided by the large format. With contented, less stressed parents comes a more harmonious, loving family and despite the dark tones of the artwork, there is a real warmth radiating from the pages and this is particularly well illustrated in the final double-spread. The feeling of cosiness is heightened by the reader being situated as part of the scene, maybe sitting on a nearby armchair. Alemagna’s distinctive work is well worth discovering.
The Light in the Night
(Simon & Schuster Children’s Books)
Betty loves night-time because with the dark comes the time for stories! But Cosmo, the bear in her favourite book, is scared of the dark and she wishes she could show him there is nothing to worry about. When Cosmo unexpectedly pops out of the book, she takes him on an adventure to do just that. This is a wonderful tale of stories coming to life, friendship, bravery and having faith. The metafictive element of story within a story blurs the boundaries between the two narratives and adds a magical element which will fascinate and enchant little readers. The beautiful dream-like drawings and soft colours are hugely comforting, making this a lovely reassuring story to read at bedtime. A perfect story to cozy up, with a lovely covert message about the importance of stories as part of a bedtime routine.
Fairy Tale Play
Readers are in the driving seat of this beautiful pop-up fairy-tale extravaganza. The book comprises of four pop-up scenes, illustrated in gorgeous vintage style, that echo folk tale heritage. Included also are over 100 cut-out characters and four drama scripts based on ‘The Little Mermaid’, ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘Cinderella’, and ‘Ali-Baba and the Forty Thieves’. All the tools are there for young readers to let their imaginations run wild! They can either recreate the stories in the scripts, recreate other traditional tales , or simply make up their own; the possibilities are endless. Agile fingers are needed for the smaller parts so the book is better suited for slightly older readers. Laurence King’s have created some exciting interactive storytelling products based on fairy tales in the last couple of years and this is a fabulous addition to that collection.