Ahh, the world of picture books is a marvelous, incredible one. I have read over one hundred picture books this year- and counting- and it’s been another STELLAR year. Innovative, hysterical, meaningful, and all around excellent, picture books authors and illustrators continue to amaze.
As holiday season is almost upon us and many of us- myself included!- are in the midst of searching high and low for standout gifts and surprises, I wanted to feature the following three wonderful picture books as possible ideas for the book (or art!) lover- young or old- in your life.
Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis
Publication: October 18, 201 by Candlewick Press
Du iz tak? What is that? As a tiny shoot unfurls, two damselflies peer at it in wonder. When the plant grows taller and sprouts leaves, some young beetles arrive to gander, and soon—with the help of a pill bug named Icky—they wrangle a ladder and build a tree fort. But this is the wild world, after all, and something horrible is waiting to swoop down—booby voobeck!—only to be carried off in turn. Su! With exquisitely detailed illustrations and tragicomic flair, Carson Ellis invites readers to imagine the dramatic possibilities to be found in even the humblest backyard. Su!
THIS BOOK. Du Iz Tak? is up there as one of my surprise favourites of the year. I became familiar with Carson Ellis’ gorgeous illustrative work after reading her picture book Home, and poring over her illustrations for The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Wildwood Chronicles. Du Iz Tak? is an entire world- and another level- of wow. Written entirely in imagined insect-speak- beginning with the seemingly innocuous ‘Du iz tak?’, readers are taken on a fantastical, thrilling and wondrous journey with beautiful, elegant insects. From their discovery of a tiny shoot which then grows and grows through the seasons, the insects adapt and impress with every change- or danger- thrust upon them. With Ellis’ stunning illustrations as the readers’ guide, much of the delight of Du Iz Tak? resides with deciphering the language of the insects…and even more delight rests in coming to some revelations about their language!
There are so many ways that this book can be enjoyed and shared- and it really is one of those picture books that has something for all ages. Whether cherished as a work of illustrative excellence, kept as a coffee table book, as a child’s foray into insects, or even used as an unexpected read aloud, Du Iz Tak? is phenomenal. You can take a look here to peak inside the book a bit more!
We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen
Publication: October 11, 2016 by Candlewick Press
Hold on to your hats for the conclusion of the celebrated hat trilogy by Caldecott Medalist Jon Klassen, who gives his deadpan finale a surprising new twist.
Two turtles have found a hat. The hat looks good on both of them. But there are two turtles. And there is only one hat. . . . Evoking hilarity and sympathy, the shifting eyes tell the tale in this brilliantly paced story in three parts, highlighting Jon Klassen’s visual comedy and deceptive simplicity. The delicious buildup takes an unexpected turn that is sure to please loyal fans and newcomers alike.
The Hat trilogy has come to an end! Beginning with the acclaimed I Want My Hat Back, and on to the also much-acclaimed This Is Not My Hat, Klassen’s series revolving around some not-so-innocent animals has been massively popular. In his wonderfully distinctive, roguish approach in text and artwork, the Hat trilogy comes to an unforeseen conclusion in We Found a Hat. With two wide-eyed (and perhaps shifty-eyed…) and intriguing turtles as our protagonists, readers are in for more delights.
Confession time: I must admit here that it took me a second read to click into the first book of the series, I Want My Hat Back. It is deceptively simple and I think that threw me off at first read! I was smitten with Klassen’s artwork pretty much from the first time I saw his illustrations, but it took a second look for me to fall in major book love with I Want My Hat Back. Now though, I cannot even imagine the picture book world- or storytime- without his wry, quietly subversive, brilliantly comical series. We Found a Hat is indeed a worthy, wonderfully bold and funny conclusion to the series. And while I cannot give away the ending here or spoil what befalls our two turtles in the challenge over one hat, I will say that Klassen surprises yet again!
Any readers who have adored the previous Hat titles, or who have loved any of Klassen’s picture books will undoubtedly appreciate We Found a Hat. Jon Klassen’s artwork is truly marvelous and as with Carson Ellis’ Du Iz Tak?, We Found a Hat is a picture book which is a joy to have not only as a great piece of children’s lit, but also because it is so beautiful.
A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston
Publication: September 6, 2016 by Candlewick Press
A little girl sails her raft across a sea of words, arriving at the house of a small boy and calling him away on an adventure. Through forests of fairy tales and across mountains of make-believe, the two travel together on a fantastical journey that unlocks the boy’s imagination. Now a lifetime of magic and adventure lies ahead of him . . . but who will be next? Combining elegant images by Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston’s typographical landscapes shaped from excerpts of children’s classics and lullabies, A Child of Books is a stunning prose poem on the rewards of reading and sharing stories—an immersive and unforgettable reading experience that readers will want to pass on to others.
I have talked about the incredible A Child of Books in a previous review post, so I don’t wish to repeat myself too much here! Since my first reading of it a few months back, it has remained another standout- a favourite of my reading year. As with the Carson Ellis and Jon Klassen titles mentioned above, A Child of Books is art, exemplary children’s lit, and a treat for book lovers all at once. I thought it might be fun to share the trailer for A Child of Books so you can take an even better look at the book- from the creators themselves!
I received copies of We Found a Hat and A Child of Books courtesy of Penguin Random House Canada/Candlewick Press in exchange for honest reviews and for the purposes of this blog post. All opinions and comments are my own.