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The Best Illustrated Children's Books

318 posts in this topic

I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on THATB when it arrives.

May be slightly biased in this case as Lost & Found is one of my favourites and my son loves it, too. Was thrilled to discover there was a sequel at all, though I'm sure anyone who's enjoyed Jeffers' previous work will love this anyway. Like I say, a few of the pictures are beautiful.
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Didn't realise that there were two new Oliver Jeffers books. Will have to take a trip into my local Waterstones and see if they are running a 3 for 2 on kid's books. The Way Back Home was our first Jeffer's book and I still read it to my little girl now. Just brilliant stories and fantastic art.
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Managed to read both of the new Jeffers books now.

Both are beautifully illustrated (that goes without saying) but whilst there are some fantastic individual pages in Up and Down I'm not sure it is brilliant as a whole. It is still a good book but compared to Jeffers' other stories it just doesn't feel quite right. The story doesn't have the pull of Lost and Found and some of the writing isn't as sharp. Returning to the characters of Lost and Found would always be difficult as it is a perfect picture book in many ways so expectations are always higher than if it was a totally new set of characters and story.

The Heart and the Bottle is something a little different for Jeffers as it is clearly aimed at a slightly older child (perhaps a similar audience that would read Michael Rosen's Sad Book). I love the look of it, much like The Great Paper Caper it has a beautiful textured appearance and putting his two new books side to side shows how his style has moved on (that isn't to say I necessarily prefer this style over the simplified look of Up and Down, nor am I suggesting that The Heart and the Bottle doesn't look like previous Jeffers' books). The story clearly borrows from John Burningham's [url=http://www.amazon.co.uk/Granpa-John-Burningham/dp/0099434083]Granpa[/url] with the key turning point in Jeffers' story being the same as the final page in Burningham's classic. It is a touching story but communicated in a rather abstract way which is fine for an adult but I wonder if a child would get it fully. I'd be interested to know the opinions of parents on this one and how their children reacted to it when it was read to them. When dealing with such an issue as bereavement I think a more simplified approach may have been better.
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I agree that it's not as good as Lost and Found (which is my favourite of his books), but I think it's got some particularly beautiful pictures.

Decided to read it to my son a second time tonight, and instead he insisted he wanted to read it to me. The story's not as touching as Lost and Found, but the fact that he was reading it almost brought a tear to my eye.
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In terms of the illustrations it is as good a book as he has done (I love the page with the penguin using the balloons to try and gain flight), it is just the story as a whole and the choice of language that is lacking.*


*Lacking by Jeffers' standards.
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Yeah, I think you might be right. I got that a little bit in The Way Back Home. I wonder if it's because it's a little longer than Lost and Found, How to Catch a Star etc. or whether it's just because the story's ultimately not quite as satisfying.
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Trailer for the short film based on Shaun Tan's The Lost Thing.
[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kikA9pUAnWs&feature=player_embedded[/media]

I really like Tan's books and this appears to have captured his look really well. I also love the fact [i]nothing[/i] is given away in the trailer.
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Supposing by Alastair Reid is utter brilliance. It's a book full of hypotheses on the many things which could happen - celebrating the fancies of a child's imagination. Each one is illustrated and most of them are totally delightful.

There have been a couple of editions since 1960, with another on its way in February illustrated by [url="http://www.bobgilletc.com/index.html"]Bob Gill[/url], but the killer one was done by one of my all time favourites, Abe Birnbaum. He is probably best known for his work for The New Yorker but also illustrated a few childrens' books and even wrote his own about a kitten named Green Eyes. Totally unique line style and entirely under-celebrated in my eyes.

Fine examples of suppositions therein:

SUPPOSING I read a book about how to change myself into animals and said a spell and changed myself into a cat and when I climbed on the book to change myself back I found out I couldn't read...

SUPPOSING a nasty old fortune teller told me I was going on a journey and just to spite her I stayed at home for the rest of my life...

SUPPOSING I tried wearing a monocle...

and my favourite:

SUPPOSING I looked in the mirror one day and saw someone who wasn't me at all and I said "Who are you?" and he said "Mr. Endicott ..."
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I'm disappointed to hear that some of you haven't really got on with Up And Down. I reallt enjoyed it, and the story was lovely. It's not really a follow on or a sequel to Lost and Found as such, yet it is quite difficult to separate the story from each to see them as differing stories. I really loved a couple of the pages in it visually, and thought they were some of Jeffers' most accomplished work (the one with the penguin doing a double take in particular) and was enthralled by the idea of the penguin committing himself to the art of flight. But there you go; I'll always be delighted by Oliver's work and view it with the very rosiest of rose-tinted glasses.

And after the heartbreaking story in THATB, Up and Down was just right for me in terms of sadness and reconciliation. Oh, and have you Jeffers fans seen the new cover to the John Boyne book "Noah Barleywater Runs Away"?

[img]http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51KBYPFCGJL._SL500_.jpg[/img]

Lovely. Just like in The Great Paper Caper!
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Has everyone seen that the Octonauts books are now animations on cbeebies?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00v77xb/Octonauts_The_Whale_Shark/
[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/images/bank/programmes_tv/cbeebies/446octonauts4.jpg[/img]
[img]http://www.culturevixen.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/Octonauts-7.jpg[/img]
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Yep, and it is a rubbish adaptation. They have managed to strip away all the charm of the books which is a real shame.
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I had to get my Meomi books imported in from the United States so you can barely manage to get the books over in Britain, but they'll buy the rights for the animation so I can watch it on my telly? Not the smartest of ideas...
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Anybody got any Suzy Lee books? I hadn't heard of her until today but her wordless books like quite interesting.

She has illustrated three books so far.

Wave
[img]http://weheartbooks.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/wave.jpg[/img]

Mirror
[img]http://www.aprancheta.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/mirror-21.jpg[/img]
Which appears to use the page break to good effect

Shadow
[img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_dw1gY4NNMPM/TH1q94sjc1I/AAAAAAAAClA/yXrXp7O63RQ/s1600/shadow.jpg[/img]
[img]http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_dw1gY4NNMPM/TH1p0nm2RWI/AAAAAAAACko/hX4NiLVmE9c/s1600/003.jpg[/img]
Which uses the page break again in a novel way
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Doing a spot more research on Suzy Lee brings up [url=http://blaine.org/sevenimpossiblethings/?p=1410]this article[/url] that shows off some of her other books.

I love her style. I'm going to try and track down her version of Alice in Wonderland.
[img]http://www.suzyleebooks.com/img/books/alice/alice01.jpg[/img]

And The Zoo
[img]http://www.suzyleebooks.com/img/books/zoo/05.jpg[/img]
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Lovely stuff. Reminds me of Curious George for some reason crossed with the wordless Mouse books which I can never remember the name of. May well pick up a couple myself sometime: Mirror and Shadows look ace.
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The Seven Impossible Things blog is wonderful.

There are so many new books I need to get hold of.

The Tree House by father-daughter team Marije Tolman and Ronald Tolman
[img]http://blaine.org/jules/treehousecover.JPG[/img]
[img]http://blaine.org/jules/Treehouse_8806_screen-2big.jpg[/img]

Too Late by Giovanna Zoboli and Camilla Engman (no English language version though)
[img]http://blaine.org/jules/Troppotardi_layout-6.jpg[/img]
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I splurged out and bought a few new picture books recently.

[img]http://www.thechildrensbookreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/littleYellowLeaf.jpg[/img]
The Little Yellow Leaf by Carin Berger

The story is very slight and rather predictable but the collage illustrations are really nice. It uses a lot of different exercise book textures and the pictures perfectly capture autumn.

3/5

[img]http://ryansias.com/ryansiasblog/wp-content/uploads/Wavecover.jpg[/img]
Wave by Suzy Lee

I mentioned Suzy Lee's work a few posts ago and I can't help but be disappointed by the reality. The illustrations are lovely but this wordless story feels rather flat and it is the sort of book you might look at once and then stick on the bookshelf to let it gather dust. I doubt I'll bother picking up her other stories now which is a real shame.

2/5

[img]http://jacketupload.macmillanusa.com/jackets/high_res/jpgs/9780312608866.jpg[/img]
Ghosts in the House by Kazuno Kohara

A nice simple story about a girl who moves into a haunted house but rather than be scared she puts them to good use. The illustrations, black on day-glo orange, have a real old-school feel to them. In fact it really reminds me of a book I liked as a child but I can't remember the name of it, or what the story was about. It is an efficiently told story which is clear and fun and nicely demystifies something that children would normally find scary.
3/5

[img]http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_u3Aacvi0YcM/Sntb07tY3TI/AAAAAAAABro/VE4pIssm0Hk/s400/Moon+Man+1a.jpg[/img]
Moon Man by Tomi Ungerer

This was recommended by Oliver Jeffers via the video c-cat posted a while back. It is a fable about the man in the moon who comes to earth and is hounded by officials. The illustrations are crude and childlike but full of character and charm. The story is also great and I especially liked the way the moon man got out of jail as his body mirrors the moon cycle so he just waited until he was in his third quarter and squeezed through the bars. It might seem a little old fashioned by modern standards but I really liked it.

4/5

[img]http://blaine.org/jules/treehousecover.JPG[/img]
The Tree House by Marije Tolman and Ronald Tolman

You can see a bit more about it in the post above this one. This is a wordless story by a father and daughter and the illustrations are gorgeous. Unfortunately that is all I can recommend. The story is about a polar bear and a brown bear who happen upon a tree house, over the course of the story more animals come and visit and then leave. It is a simple story but is perhaps too simple as there is nothing to it at all.

2/5
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Oliver Jeffers' Heart and the Bottle iPad version looks lovely.

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wc3fghSJvBM[/media]

I think with the interactive features some publishers could take it too far but this looks just about right to me. It almost makes me want to buy an iPad (well I want one anyway but this might justify the purchase. Ish.)
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[img]http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/images/penelope/penelopeandbook_slideshow1_385.jpg[/img]
I caught some of this program ("Penelope") on tv the other day and thought "Ooh! How cute and lovely!"



Apparently this started off as a collection of books...I want!
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What a great thread, will be buying some of these for the nipper.

A couple that seem to be absent from the thread -

Petr Horacek

[img]http://eurekabookstore.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/suzy-goose.jpg[/img]

Lynn Dodd

[img]http://thereadingbug.circlesoft.net/document/photos/000/853/561/large_9781877423123.jpg[/img]

Stories about cats and dogs, nice rhyming to them.

Seen a few mentions of the Scheffler books - this is our favourite

[img]http://images.scholastic.co.uk/assets/a/01/34/83676-ml-84978.jpg[/img]

[quote name='Hemzoozlefluff*' timestamp='1227356434' post='5605656']
One of my recent purchases (for my future classroom!) is The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers.

[img]http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41N2PGj0HiL._SS500_.jpg[/img]
[/quote]

I love this book, probably my favourite of the JEffers we have.

[quote name='Davros sock drawer' timestamp='1228832558' post='5655229']

No love for Dr Seuss?

[img]http://greenslibrary.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/green-eggs-and-ham.jpg[/img]
[/quote]

I adore Seuss, my 2 year old daughter is currently very infatuated with "The Shape of me" which is one of my books from childhood.
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[quote name='lordcookie' timestamp='1290448333' post='7531579']
Oliver Jeffers' Heart and the Bottle iPad version looks lovely.

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wc3fghSJvBM[/media]

I think with the interactive features some publishers could take it too far but this looks just about right to me. It almost makes me want to buy an iPad (well I want one anyway but this might justify the purchase. Ish.)
[/quote]

Is this out? Can't find it on the app store!
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Unfortunately not. The release date is supposed to be December and you'd think that would mean before Christmas so it can't be much longer. I signed up to Jeffers' Facebook page so I assume when it is available he will post about it there. When he does I'll make sure to update this topic.
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