Zuzu’s Forest by Gorkem K. Arsoy, illustration by Simeon Tennant. My baby’s current obsession is a book we picked up on a recent trip to Istanbul. There’s a store on Istiklal Caddesi owned by Yapi Kredi bank, which also publishes books (yeah, I thought it odd too, but it’s normal in Turkey), and I bought all of the English children’s books. This is by far my favorite. The story is basically about a little girl who finds a magic pen and everything she draws comes to life. Pretty soon, the town is full of animals, the monkeys have no trees to climb in, the sheep are eating the gardens, the giraffes demand music lessons, etc. The solution is for Zuzu to draw a forest near town for her animal friends and everyone is happy, meeting up for picnics with cupcakes baked by zebras. I love the story, even with some translated phrases that come across a bit odd in English, but I especially love the art. How endearing are these anthropomorphic, slightly hipster animals?! There’s nothing particularly Turkish about it, other than the gorilla drinking tea in the picnic above, but I will always treasure it as a token of our Istanbul life. Also, the fact that there are additional books by the same author/artist is incentive to work on my Turkish. Also, if you are familiar with Istanbul, you will enjoy the artist’s fantastic prints (I especially love the Thoughts of the Newcomer).
Foxy by Emma Dodd. I’m going to have to give this book a resounding ‘feh.” The story and illustrations are very sweet, but reads a bit clunky. Is there a prequel I’m missing? Why is this anxious child not disturbed by a strange fox at her window, magical tail or not? Why is some action identified in the dialogue, but others are not? It’s a little inconsistent and awkward to read, but ultimately inoffensive. I’ll check out her other books to see if her narrative has improved.
I picked up Jules Feiffer’s Bark, George just last week at the library, so I’ve only read it a few dozen times, but I adore it. The silly story, scrappy illustrations, and repetitive but fun dialogue are just aces. It’s clever and cute without being hokey. The range of emotions on the mother dog’s face is pretty profound, and you can’t not enjoy that joyful image above when George finally barks. I won’t give away the ending (okay, it implies he’s eaten a person), but I like that it’s kind of a thinker, one that the baby won’t “get” for awhile. I’ve long been a fan of Mr. Feiffer’s work, now I’ll be on the lookout for all of his children’s books. Also, the idea of this book being read by John Lithgow is perfection.
"Breaking Bad: Fun with Alphabets." Fake Golden book.This guy is a genius.
Breaking Bad Children’s Book!
by Chris Danger
M is for Meth
I’m about to take a few books reluctantly back to the library, and Old Bear by Kevin Henkes is one of them. This is a lovely book, one that I just want to crawl inside, especially in the summer when in “rains” blueberries. How sweet is that bear above, snoozing inside a giant crocus?! Wonder if it’s a reference to Runaway Bunny. The author has written a bunch of cute books about mice I feel like I’ve seen around, but I picked this one up on a whim because we like bears. Pretty crazy to think I’ll have to explain the concept of hibernation (“Don’t worry honey, the bear is just sleeping. FOR MONTHS AT A TIME. But he’s not dead!”) in a few years, now it’s just nice to look at sleeping bears in fantasy worlds.
Mystery Bottle by Kristen Balouch. This was another book I checked out of the library recently, and I’m seriously bummed that it seems to be out of print. The story behind the book is fascinating: the author’s husband was put on a plane out of Iran by his father just before the revolution as a little boy, and didn’t see him again until he had a little boy himself. The artwork is an awesome mix of collage, maps, and beautiful drawings, and the story is sweet and a little magical. How many other children’s books are about Iran?! The author’s website also mentions that she does school visits to teach children about Persian culture, including making a treasure map! I’ll be tracking this one down from a used bookstore, it’s a gem.