Monday, November 28, 2011

Powerful words, powerful illustrations!

Monday evening in Columbus, Oh. It has been raining non-stop for the last two days. It's gloomy outside and I honestly didn't find the inner strength to work out today. When the weather is like this, it only calls for the essentials: a pile of picture books and a hot apple cider by my side. Even though, at times one can feel lonely or vulnerable, all feelings can change in the company of books...the right books. So, this evening the books that I will share with you took me on a journey: I found myself crying, smiling over at a writer's sense of humor through his book, laughing with some and reminiscing with others. And that's the beauty of books...they can transform you, they can fill up the empty holes, they can make you feel so many different and opposites feelings ...all at once, all in one sitting. welcome to the journey... in this set of picture books, I decided to show four books which not only the words but the illustrations have caught my eyes in a way that make the story stick with me.

Grandpa Green by the magnificent Lane Smith is one that I read a while ago, but I needed to read again. I wanted to remind myself how the book made me felt...optimistic.This story is told from the great-grandson 's perspective. He is narrating how amazing beautiful, eclectic and different his grandpa's life used to be. Grandpa loved his garden so much that every significant event in his life was represented in his garden, through is work. Now, it is the hands of his family to preserve that garden that constitutes nothing else but grandpa's memories. What a beautiful way to remember someone...
 This is another book I immediately fell in love with but I must admit I'm a big fan of Melissa Sweet's art work so any work she does gets my immediate attention. This book will NOT disappoint any of her fans. In this book, readers will learn the story behind the colorful traditional Macy's Thanksgiving Parade that takes place in NYC every year. Little did I know that behind this spectacular parade was a man with the name of Tony Sarg who loved to figure out how make things MOVE. Thanks to his curious mind and his willingness to explore, he starting wondering and making things at a very young age. Tony Sarg had the creative and innovative mentality of "when no one is making...." then he will. And he did. Melissa Sweet's dedication in learning the story and details behind his life is beautifully illustrated through her words and her pictures. Melissa creates the kind of books that anyone would be willing to read because the format and style that she chooses to present new information makes it so appealing to any reader. From beginning, from the inside cover, to the last page and back cover, you'll learn something new along the way!
Let's continue with the flow of books that are so artistically and beautifully done. Paul Thurlby's Alphabet by Paul Thurlby is a one of a kind alphabet book. Every letter he has illustrated takes the shape and form of its subject. For example, letter C is for catch so he designed the letter C with two arms representing "catch". D is for Dog, so he made the dog's belly rounder and bigger to represent letter D. But what I love the most about this ABC book is the "vintage" appeal the book has.  At the end of the book, Paul describes his style as retro-modern, using old books, postcards, and pieces of paper for the backgrounds.

My Hands Sing the Blues, Romare Bearden's Childhood Journey by Jeanne Walker Harvey. For me this book was completely new. I must admit not knowing about Romare Bearden but this is the beauty about books. It helps you grow knowledge and understanding...all through the book of another writer who decided to capture the life of an artist. Romare Bearden and his family had to leave North Carolina due to all the discrimination and Jim Crow laws affecting them. The family began the journey to New York City where Romare decided to capture his memories of growing in colorful North Carolina through his paintings.  Romare and his grandpa spent many afternoons watching trains going by. Little did Romare know how those afternoons would later on influence his life and his work so much.  One canvas after another, Romare combined two of his passion in one: his childhood memories with the love of Jazz. The author and illustrator did a wonderful team work in the making of this book. Both were able to capture and engage readers like me, who didn't know much about him. By the time I finished the book, I definitely wanted to read more!

These four picture books caught my attention on a gloomy Monday evening. These books always make me think how important and value is the work of the illustrator who is able to capture and embrace the writer's words and turn them into paintings, colors, and shapes. A round of applause to all artists out there who make readers fall in love with books even more, day after day!