Word of Mouth
5:12 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Five Great Children's Books

Maria Popova is the founder of Brain Pickings, a fantastic online collection of articles, book reviews, and other assorted musings. In her role as curator Popova has often looked with a critical eye at the under-examined genre of illustrated children’s books.  We spoke to her about what makes a great illustrated work, and she shared with us some of her favorite children’s books from the recent and not so recent past.


Credit Enchanted Lion Books

Little Boy Brown

Written by Isobel Harris
Illustrated by André François

"Illustrated by the famous graphic artist André François, Little Boy Brown has to be the greatest book about childhood loneliness of all time It is also a classic that is ripe for rediscovery because of the lost New York City that it invokes and its contemporary feel, à la Wes Anderson. Little boy Brown loves elevators, tunnels, and subways. His friends are doormen and waiters. This is his own account of the wonderful day that he spends with Hilda, his family’s maid, and her family in the country. The character of little boy Brown is completely real and moving, and his story lingers and lingers."

-Enchanted Lion Books

Credit Enchanted Lion Books

The Hole

Written and illustrated by Øyvind Torseter

"The protagonist of The Hole has discovered a hole in his apartment and tries to find an explanation for it. He seeks expert advice. But not everything can be explained. Perhaps he’ll just have to accept that the hole is there? The Hole has simple, expressive drawings created by pen and computer, and there’s a hole punched right through the book, so it exists in real life, even if it can’t be explained."

-Enchanted Lion Books

Credit Enchanted Lion Books

Advice To Little Girls

Written by Mark Twain
Illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky

"When Mark Twain wrote the sparky short story "Advice to Little Girls" in 1865, he probably didn't mean for it to be shown to them. Or maybe he did, since we all know Twain was a rascal. Now, author and illustrator Vladimir Radunsky has created a picture book based on Twain's text that adds all the right outlandish touches."

-Enchanted Lion Books

Credit Tara Books

Waterlife

Written and illustrated by Rambharos Jha

"'Waterlife' features Mithila art, a vibrant and delicate form of folk painting from Bihar in eastern India. The artist Rambharos Jha grew up on the banks of the legendary river Ganga, and surrounded by lush fields and ponds, developed a fascination for water and water life. In this visually stunning book, artist Rambharos Jha creates an unusual artist’s journal, adapting the motifs of the Mithila style to express his own vision. He frames his art with a playful text that evokes both childhood memory and folk legend."

-Tara Books

Credit Kids Can Press

Virginia Wolf

Written and illustrated by Kyo Maclear; Isabelle Arsenault

"Vanessa's sister, Virginia, is in a "wolfish" mood — growling, howling and acting very strange. It's a funk so fierce, the whole household feels topsy-turvy. Vanessa tries everything she can think of to cheer her up, but nothing seems to work. Then Virginia tells Vanessa about an imaginary, perfect place called Bloomsberry. Armed with an idea, Vanessa begins to paint Bloomsberry on the bedroom walls, transforming them into a beautiful garden complete with a ladder and swing "so that what was down could climb up." Before long, Virginia, too, has picked up a brush and undergoes a surprising transformation of her own. Loosely based on the relationship between author Virginia Woolf and her sister, painter Vanessa Bell, Virginia Wolf is an uplifting story for readers of all ages."

-Kids Can Press

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