Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Wondrous Workings of Planet Earth

Rachel Ignotofsky

I absolutely adore the illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky (I first discovered her on Etsy years ago when I bought Henry one of her bacteria cell t-shirts).  I always love when science and art converge.  This year both Henry and Charlotte happened to be studying eco-systems and biomes in their science classes, so reading this book was extra fun!  The design and layout of illustrations and facts and information is simply fabulous!  We even used it as a studying tool for Charlotte's science test.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Thursday, September 13, 2018

The Wind in the Willows

This was the summer of The Wind in the Willows.  Though it's a classic I confess I had never actually read it before, which is too bad because it's perfectly wonderful!  We had a second-hand hardback copy with less than interesting illustrations.  Though Grahame's writing is so lovely, we felt the pictures were lacking.  So I tracked down a version illustrated by David Petersen (we have a copy of one of his Mouse Guard comics).  When I saw the cover I knew this was the one for us!  (Rackham also did a version with delightful illustrations as well).  

Kenneth Grahame
illustrated by David Petersen 2016

How could you not love dreamy Ratty and timid Mole, the stern Badger and of course the irascible Toad.  The story meanders beautifully with Grahame's descriptions of the river and English countryside.  We found much of the dialog and hijinks of Toad are laugh out loud funny!    

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Summer Birds: The butterflies of Maria Merian

Margarita Engle 2010
pictures by Julie Paschkis

      When I was 11 I wanted to be an entomologist.  I still love bugs to this day!  I'm the go-to person in our family to identify insects (It's not unusual for Chris or the kids to text me a photo of a bug they've found prowling around the house when I wasn't there).

     So I was thrilled to discover this book about a woman naturalist and illustrator who was fascinated by insects too!  I had never heard of her before, so this book was a perfect jumping off point to learn more about Maria Merian.  Born in the 1600's, Maria studied insects in their natural habitat and became known for her scientific observations as well as her beautiful illustrations.

Julie Paschikis does a fair job of invoking a Hieronymus Bosch style of art to go with the fantastical ideas that certain creatures came from mud and were evil.  There's a nice biographical bit about Maria at the end.  She was a remarkable woman and though this picture book is a good introduction, it's definitely worth looking her up and reading more about her!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The House that Grew Smaller

The House That Grew Smaller
Margery Williams Bianco 1931

Charlotte reminded me of this book the other night.  She remembered the sad little house and the children who came and took care of it.  The vintage illustrations are just perfect.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Tasha Tudor's A Child's Garden of Verses

Robert Louis Stevenson
illustrated by Tasha Tudor 

Robert Louis Stevenson and Tasha Tudor never get old.  Here they are paired together- Tasha Tudor's lovely illustrations for Stevenson's classic poems about childhood.  I couldn't imagine a more complimentary partnership!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Complete Brambly Hedge

The Brambly Hedge stories are one of our happy places.  We were first introduced to Jill Barklem's cozy characters and illustrations by a little second hand copy of "A Spring Story".  Surprisingly we were able to pick up a couple more of the stand alone stories at various thrift stores and used bookshops.

Jill Barklem 

Finally one Christmas, Charlotte received the giant "Complete Brambly Hedge" and we were able to pass off our other books to friends who we knew would enjoy them as we do.  This collection includes several stories we had never seen before, and once again we simply poured over the illustrations.  Sometimes when I would read it to Charlotte in bed we'd have to stop for several minutes on a page just so I could enjoy all the picture's details.  (For this reason, I don't recommend this as a bedtime book.  You really want to sit in the daylight and take your time looking at the pictures!)

Brambly Hedge is populated by a community of mice with names like "Poppy" and "Dusty" and "Wilfred".  The stories are sweet and genial and full of all the gentle things that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.