Thursday, August 4, 2011

When Old Becomes New, or
Two Must-Read Picture Books

I've been reading a lot of picture books this year as I've fallen a bit behind with the new releases, and there are two in particular I can't get out of my head. I give them as baby-shower gifts and birthday presents at every opportunity, and I recommend them to everyone I talk to. These two books couldn't be more different, but for some reason, their differences will indelibly link them in my mind.

This book of verse kicks it old school with quilting blocks of stories. With influences from collage and found-art mediums, this is anything but your grandma's favorite past time. Though the stories are familiar, the quality of the work makes this a true treasury of rhymes. My personal favorite, "A wise old owl," made me want to reach through the pages and touch the original work.

A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na

Graphically oriented and richly dark, Na utilizes modern technology to give this book a surreal flare. A lot of people describe this book as "quiet," yet it has the potential to completely change how we look at bedtime stories. Where Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon introduced a rhythmic lull to night-time traditions, this book proves that art doesn't have to be simple to help get kids ready for bed.

Both of these authors take their genre to another level. They are the epitome of artistic expression yet still make their work accessible to the youngest generation of art enthusiasts. Honestly, Mavor and Na could probably make a lot of money selling their art to the highest bidder, but instead they're making picture books for children who can't even read them on their own. Now that is dedication to craft.

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