Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Picture Book A Day Keeps the Blues Away! - PART 2

Read Part One!

Continuing from the previous post, Shobha Viswanath writes more about her all-time favourite picture books.

No, David!

Author: David Shannon
Illustrator: David Shannon
Publisher: Blue Sky Press

Ever been told 'No' by an adult when you were a child? My childhood only resounded with Nos - and having grown in a family that extended to uncles and aunts twice and three times removed, there were times when I wondered if that was the only word they knew.

When I saw No, David! at a Scholastic book fair, I was immediately drawn to it. David's Calvinish face was simply too much to resist. Every page portrays an act of David eliciting a 'No, David'  from the adult until you feel so sorry for the little brat. I wanted to buy 42 copies of the book and give it to all my aunts and uncles but I doubted if they ever saw themselves as no-saying adults.

This picture book reaches out and grabs you with its title refrain and trouble-bound protagonist, who is sure to remind you of a lot of small children you’ve met, some of them quite possibly your own. The art is beyond brash, and kids love this book—especially the part where David runs down the street naked.

The Rumour

Author: Anushka Ravishankar
Illustrator: Kanyika Kini
Publisher: Karadi Tales

Do you know the game that we played as children? The Chinese Whisper? You and your friends sit in a circle and one child whispers a secret to the person next to her and she in turns whispers the same to the one next to her, and so on until the secret reaches the last person in the circle? The last child has to say the secret aloud and it usually is nothing even remotely like the original line.

Set in Badbadpur, where people have nothing else to do except gossip, strange whispers begin to float around when Pandurang, the village Grouch spits out a feather one balmy day. The feather travels, turning into a bird, to a flock of birds, to a forest and then to a jungle – all in the space of Pandurang’s afternoon siesta time! Written beautifully in rhyme and prose by Anushka Ravishankar and illustrated with brilliant vividness by Kanyika Kini, this hilarious picture book is a treat for both the eye and the ear!

Grouch Pandurang is hilarious, and Kini has wonderfully captured the stances and postures of the villagers of Maharashtra. My personal favourite!

Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type

Author: Doreen Cronin
Illustrator: Betsy Lewin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

I came across this thin, small rather unimpressive looking book in my daughter’s school library. It lay across the table and having 10 minutes before the school bell rang, I read through it. What a find! A treasure of a book! I laughed and laughed and re read the book, gathered the kids who lingered in the library and read it to them as well.

Farmer Brown's cows have become very literate. They have found an old typewriter in the barn and have begun typing. To the harassed farmer's dismay, his communicative cows quickly become contentious:

Dear Farmer Brown,
The barn is very cold at night. We'd like some electric blankets.
The Cows 

When Farmer Brown refuses to give in to the terrorist cows’ demands, the cows take action. Farmer Brown finds another note on the barn door: "Sorry. We're closed. No milk today." Soon the striking cows and Farmer Brown are forced to reach a mutually agreeable compromise, with the help of an impartial party--the duck. However, if you think Farmer Brown’s troubles are over, think again!


Illustrator: David Weisner
Publisher: Clarion Books

David Weisner is a master story teller – not with words but only with pictures. His wordless picture books were my first introduction to the genre and I use them frequently to stimulate creative writing exercises for myself as well as students I teach.

In the picture book, Tuesday, he once again captures the imagination of his audience with his breathtaking illustrations with the story of a frog invasion that happens during the twilight hours on a Tuesday evening.

Children's imaginations will be tugged in this inventive possibility of what happens in the outside world while they are tucked away into bed: frogs soar from their pond on hovering Lilly pads past a late-night snacker's kitchen window, tangle through the hanging laundry, and most charmingly, stop to watch television with an unknowing old woman snoozing under her afghan.

By the end of the story, readers will believe that anything can happen after the sun goes down - that even pigs can fly.

The Seventh Kozhakkatai

Author: Shobha Viswanath
Illustrator: Malavika P.C.
Publisher: Karadi Tales

Have you ever longingly looked into the jar and yielded to the temptation of eating that last cookie or candy meant for your brother or sister?

On Ganesh Chaturti, Little Kumar is unable to resist the last Kozhakkatai meant for his sibling Kutti. He gulps it down, licks his lips, wipes his fingers on his shirt and slips out of the kitchen quietly when the lights go off. When Kutti comes for her share of the Kozhakkattai, and reaches out to take it, she is astonished with what she finds.

A delightful little story, often told on the warm porches of houses in Tamil Nadu, the Seventh Kozhakkatai, with its mad cap illustrations and poetic text echoing Tamil nuances and inflexions always brings back memories of my own childhood.

A story that often begs for many tellings!

Little Bird’s ABC

Author: Piet Grobler
Illustrator: Piet Grobler
Publisher: Front Street

Alphabet books have often fascinated publishers and have given authors and illustrators inventive ways of telling the same old thing. And once in a while, amidst the din of commonplace books marching along, there comes one with a little swagger and a generous smile. Little Bird’s ABC is one such.

Little Bird’s ABC by Piet Grobler begins…

Aa for Alley-oop! Bb for Burp…Cc for Chirp chirp chirp Doink! is the sound of an apple that falls on a bird; the Ffftt… that comes from still another bird's rear!

Crazy, silly and hugely funny, the text and illustrations by Piet Grobler will have the child inventing his own alphabet of sounds and rolling in laughter at the ones that have been created. What a novel approach to the staid old ABC!

- Written by Shobha Viswanath, Publishing Director of Karadi Tales