Friday, April 12, 2024


I recently had the occasion to attend the Met in NYC for the first time.  I think I am becoming an opera lover!  (It all started when I watched this video of Dmitri Hvorostovsky and I was completely smitten!)

The opera we saw performed was "Turandot" and we also just so happen to have a beautifully illustrated book version of it.  The sets and costumes at the Met were spectacular.  The audience literally gasped during the second act when the scenery was revealed (apparently Franco Zeffirelli created this production).  The whole performance was gorgeous.  And of course the Nessun Dorma performed by Roberto Alagna gave me chills.  

Marianna Mayer
illustrated by Winslow Pels 1995

The story is a Chinese folk tale about a beautiful princess, Turandot, who refuses to marry.  She sets up a series of riddles for any would be suitors that results in their death should they fail.  Soon the city is decorated with all the failed paramours' heads on pikes and the people are weary of all the death.  Only when a new young prince arrives determines not to fail is Turandot's icy heart finally melted by love.  

Interestingly, Marianna Mayer is the first wife of another author/illustrator that we love- Mercer Mayer.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Curious Tales

The Curious Tales
Milos Macourek
illustrated by Adolf Born 1987

 What a gloriously fun book!  Lots of silly stories about things like a singing kitchen sink, or roaming pasta, or a girl who makes so many inkblots.  I don't know if it's because it was originally written in Czech but the tales seem particularly ridiculous.  And the illustrations add to the silliness.  We loved this one!

I'm getting a Tomi Ungerer vibe from this picture.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Cry, Heart, But Never Break

Cry, Heart, But Never Break
Glenn Ringtved
illustrated by Charlotte Pardi 2016

I feel like American books don't often tackle the subject of death for children.  Understandably it's a hard subject that even adults don't know how to talk about.  But when those things are hidden they can seem shameful and scary, especially to children.  I'm impressed by other cultures who don't hide or shy away from death being a normal part of life.  You see it in their folktales, or the stories that are told to help children understand the world around them, the good and bad parts.  This Danish book tackles head on the loss of a grandmother as Death comes to the house to take her.  At first the children keep giving him cups of coffee to delay the inevitable.  But Death, "whose heart beneath his inky cloak, is as red as the most beautiful sunset and beats with a great love of life," patiently tells the children a story.  It's the story of two brothers, "Sorrow" and "Grief," who fall in love with two sisters, "Joy" and "Delight," and how their happiness is made whole by being together. 

Thursday, April 4, 2024

The Rabbit's Wedding

 This would actually make a really sweet gift to read on one's wedding or anniversary.  Williams' soft full page illustrations are so dreamy.  It's about a little black rabbit and a little white rabbit who do everything together and are the best of friends.  But the little black rabbit gets sad when he starts thinking about his wish to be with the white rabbit "forever and always".  When he finally shares this wish of his, the white rabbit is so happy, she promises to be his "forever and always".  They get married with dandelions tucked behind their ears, which is my favorite part!  

The Rabbits' Wedding
Garth Williams 1958

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Hopscotch, the Tiny Bunny

Calling all 90's kids.... how nostalgic are these illustrations?  I feel like these kinds of books contributed to the "cottagecore" aesthetic that is so popular right now!  Never underestimate the influence of the artwork/illustrations you saw as a child.  That's why picture books are so important!  Lanza's illustrations are very reminiscent of Cyndy Szekeres, in fact, I was sure this was one of her books when I picked it up.

Hopscotch, the Tiny Bunny
Stephanie Calmenson
illustrated by Barbara Lanza 1991

Saturday, March 30, 2024

A Child's First Book of Poems

A Child's First Book of Poems
pictures by Cyndy Szekeres 1981

Cyndy Szekeres is a illustrator from my childhood.  She makes pictures of sweet furry animals, cozy homes, flowers, children and homey things.  I was pleased to see more than a few Aileen Fisher poems in this collection too.

Lovely endpages!

Have you ever seen a cuter fox?!

And look at this formal fellow!

I thought this illustration was particularly cute to include the drawing hand of the artist.