This is one you don't want to miss, read below or click here to download the complete NYTBR feature. ---Stefanie
Creative Spirits - Picture Books About Resourceful Children
By RACHAEL BROWN
Published: February 10, 2012
Last fall, an advertisement in the children’s book review journal The Horn Book announced, “We are tired of hearing the picture book is in trouble, and tired of pretending it is not.” Signed by 22 writers and illustrators, the proclamation offered an attractive vision for children’s literature, including declarations that “a picture book should be fresh, honest, piquant and beautiful,” and that “we must cease writing the same book again and again.”
ONE COOL FRIEND
By Toni Buzzeo. Illustrated by David Small.
32 pp. Dial. $16.99. (Picture Book; ages 5 to 8)
THE MONSTER RETURNS
Written and illustrated by Peter McCarty.
40 pp. Henry Holt & Company. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 3 to 6)
By Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen.
40 pp. Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins Publishers. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 4 to 8)
The Picture Book Manifesto, as the treatise is known, was the brainchild of the author Mac Barnett (“Mustache!”). “I think there’s a lot of hand-wringing going on now about the picture book and its place in the market and in our culture,” Barnett told Publishers Weekly. “We need to make exciting books that kids will want to read.” Those who agree will rejoice in the release of three new picture books by well-established authors and illustrators that attempt to answer that call, including one by Barnett himself.
Many memorable picture books rely on the imaginations of both their characters and their readers to transform the ordinary into the remarkable. Continuing that tradition, in each of these titles — “One Cool Friend,” written by Toni Buzzeo (known for her “Adventure Annie” books) and illustrated by the Caldecott winner David Small (“Imogene’s Antlers,” “So You Want to Be President?”); “The Monster Returns,” written and illustrated by Peter McCarty (“Henry in Love,” “Hondo & Fabian”); and “Extra Yarn,” written by Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen (“I Want My Hat Back”), another manifesto signer — the child protagonist demonstrates creativity and resourcefulness that will inspire readers.
In the wonderful “One Cool Friend,” prim and polite Elliot, who prefers books to “masses of noisy kids,” is captivated by penguins during a trip to the aquarium and decides to bring one home in his backpack. Elliot proceeds to turn his room into an ice-skating rink, make a nest in the freezer, and invest in ice cubes and Goldfish crackers to keep his new friend happy.
Our hero looks like a penguin himself, sporting a tuxedo and enviable posture, while his father, hunched and in green pajamas, resembles the sea turtles he spends his days researching. Academic curiosity is encouraged in Elliot’s home. Naming his penguin Magellan, Elliot bikes to the library to learn more about the breed. Small’s energetic colored-pencil, ink and watercolor illustrations aptly convey the scale and urgency of a child’s perspective and provide plenty of playful details leading up to a last-page twist that will delight kids and parents alike.