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The Eric Carle Museum
of Picture Book Art
  • 125 West Bay Road
  • Amherst, MA 01002

Hours

  • Thursday, Friday10 am-3 pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4 pm
  • Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Closed Monday,Tuesday, Wednesday

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Picture Books We Love

Children's Book News: The New York Times Best Illustrated List

The New York Times recently released their picks for best illustrated children's books of 2010 and I'm so pleased there are so many of my favorite titles made the list! If you haven't seen it yet, pick up a copy of Philip and Erin Stead's A Sick Day for Amos McGee. The illustrations are a wonderful blend of woodblock printing and pencil with a subdued yet festive palette that matches the subtle sweetness of the story. Amos McGee works at the city zoo and his day runs like clockwork. He catches the number five bus every day at 6 am to work and then, one by one, spends time with his animal friends. But when Amos gets sick and his regular schedule gets disrupted, his friends miss him and surprise him at home. The subtle details in the illustrations, like the curving in of the shy penguin's toes, the splashes of color against the gray pencil lines, or the tiny mouse and bird accompanying the main characters, all add to and complement the text. And nothing is sweeter than the wordless spread of all the animals waiting at the bus stop. This is a wonderful story about friendship, reminiscent of out-of-print Arnold Lobel's A Zoo for Mister Muster, and it's sure to be on my personal bookshelf for a long, long time. Another wonderful new title is Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile. For me, Bink & Gollie have immediately joined the ranks with other favorite storybook pairs such as Frog & Toad, Gossie & Gertie, and Toot & Puddle. Reminiscent particularly of the Frog & Toad books, Bink & Gollie shows that uniquely different personalities can make a perfect pair in an early-reader book fashion. In a collection of three short, heavily illustrated stories, we meet the eccentric Bink and the imaginative Gollie as they go on adventures from buying socks to climbing the Andes and everything in between. The illustrations are humorous with delightful pacing, but what I love most about this book is the language choice. "Bink," said Gollie, "the brightness of those socks pains me. I beg you not to purchase them." or "Some socks are more lovable than others." Not only was I hysterically laughing while reading, but completely loved that the authors didn't shy away from big words like bonanza, marvelous or outrageous in fear of scaring away children and instead embraced them, knowing that child readers will too. I can't wait for the first kid to walk in the store and declare it's a marvelous book bonanza. Hats off to DiCamillo and McGhee! I am a HUGE fan of Suzy Lee and especially love how she expertly utilizes the book's design in her picture books. From format, to use of color, to the arrangement of illustrations on the page, Lee seems to always be very aware of the power of simple details. I have noted she particularly likes to play with the book's gutter (the seam of the book where the pages meet). In her most recent book, Shadow, the left page shows a girl playing in a crowded attic while the opposite page shows her shadow and the shadows of the objects in the room, with the gutter as the barrier. While the illustrations begin in black and white, Lee gradually plays with the color yellow, and as the girl's imagination grows and her fantasy of the shadows takes over, so does the color yellow on the page. Reminiscent of Where the Wild Things Are, where once we saw a cluttered attic, we are now completely lost in the girl's imaginative shadow world, until a reminder of the outside world brings us all back. I'm certain that there's nothing I like better than a book that fully embraces imagination in such a skilled way. I could go on and on about my favorite picture books this year, but that will have to wait for another day. In the meantime, check out the rest of the New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books of 2010 and purchase them from our website here. Use the coupon code NYT2010 at checkout and save 15% on any of the books from the list until Wednesday, November 24, 2010. Now let's get reading!

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