Remy and Lulu

 

RemyandLulu

Image Credit: Alfred A. Knopf (Random House Children’s Books), Kevin Hawkes/Hannah E. Harrison

Art has always been an integral part of my life so when I read this book for the first time, I was delighted. It’s very silly and endearing. Hawkes is a great storyteller.

In Remy and Lulu, Lulu meets a painter named Remy and they become friends. Remy is VERY confident in his art and claims to paint the “essence of a person, not their likeness” (his art is a blur) but his patrons are always disappointed and angered by his art! One day during a session, Remy stops to rest and Lulu picks up a brush and takes off painting. At first his patrons are angry but then they spot the tiny, meticulous masterpiece in the corner and are ecstatic! They thank Remy and pay him double and he’s reassured that painting from his heart will lead to great results (and money in his pocket and food in their bellies!)

Remy (and Lulu) becomes very famous but he has bad eyesight, so he never notices Lulu’s paintings UNTIL he has a commission from an optometrist who gifts him with new glasses. Finally his eyes are opened to the truth of their fame and he is angry and bitter and forgets about his good friend. Luckily, Remy comes to realize just how important friendship is when Lulu helps him find himself again.

Kevin Hawkes’ paintings are great; the scenes of the French countryside are beautiful and inviting. His style stands out with its bold color and strokes but so does Hannah E. Harrison’s. Her miniature, highly detailed animal paintings are gorgeous. Harrison’s oil paintings add something special to the book, similar to how Lulu is the best business partner and friend Remy could ask for. Check out her book Bernice Gets Carried Away which is also AWESOME and highlights her detailed style.

Be sure to read this story with your little budding artist and head out to the country side to paint like Remy and Lulu!

P.S. The story actually begins on the endpapers (when you first open the book)! Look at Lulu’s sad expression as the beautiful paintings are taken away. 😦


Recommended for
: All Ages
Great for: Humor, Art, Friendship, Determination, Dogs, Animals, Dreams, France
Book Info: Remy and Lulu written by Kevin Hawkes/Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes and Hannah E. Harrison, 2014 Alfred A. Knopf (Random House Children’s Books), ISBN: 9780449810859

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The Tea Party in the Woods

TheTeaPartyintheWoods

Image Credit: Kids Can Press, Akiko Miyakoshi

 

Japanese author/illustrator Akiko Miyakoshi creates a whimsical and mysterious winter fantasy inspired by Little Red Riding Hood. The Tea Party in the Woods was originally printed in Japan in 2010 (もりのおくのおちゃかいへ) but was translated to English and printed in Canada/US this year. I’m always happy and thankful for this special type of global exchange. There are SO many great stories out there!

In The Tea Party in the Woods, Kikko sets out after her father on a wintry morning. He forgot the pie for grandma and so she bravely walks through the woods in the deep snow to catch up with him. She finally sees him and rushes to catch up but drops and crushes the pie box. After she gets up, she follows him again but he walks into a strange house! Turns out it’s not her father at all…but a bear wearing a suit! She’s invited into the animals’ tea party where everyone is having a lovely time with music and delicious food. The animals share slices of all their lovely pies to make a special new pie for grandma.

This book is lovely and odd. Miyakoshi’s sketchy charcoal and pencil illustrations stand out against the white background. Her sparse use of color is just enough to highlight and draw attention, similar to Sydney Smith’s use of color in Sidewalk FlowersThe page where Kikko enters the party is a bit spooky; all the animals stare at her with wide eyes. Perhaps they’re just as surprised to see her as she is them! Snuggle up with a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy The Tea Party in the Woods with your children.

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Family, Little Red Riding Hood, Community, Determination, Friendship, Party, Animals, Pie, Party, Mystery, Winter, Woods, Global Exchange
Book Info: The Tea Party in the Woods by Akiko Miyakoshi, 2015 Kids Can Press, ISBN: 9781771381079

Wild

Wild

Image Credit: Flying Eye Books, Emily Hughes

I love this one. 🙂  Her big, expressive eyes draw you in, don’t they? She is unashamedly content and happy with her wildness.

Hughes’ story is about a young girl who grows up in the woods and is embraced and raised by its creatures. Bird teaches her how to talk, Bear teaches her how to eat (by catching salmon with her teeth on the edge of a waterfall!!) and Fox teaches her how to play. But one day strange animals take her away and attempt to raise her “properly.” From her perspective, they speak wrong, eat wrong, everything is WRONG and she is hopelessly unhappy. Will she find the strength within herself to be wild and happy again? This book touches on issues of acceptance, inner-strength, difference and perspective. Just because she’s “wild” does that make her lifestyle wrong? Perhaps “wild” is just a matter of perspective…

Wild2

Image Credit: Flying Eye Books, Emily Hughes (click for a closer look)

In addition to a great story, Hughes crafts gorgeous illustrations. The earthy brown, green and blue colors of the woods contrast with the girl’s pink skin and wild green hair. Though they contrast, it’s obvious how much she is a part of her surroundings. Her expressive eyes tell most of the story, as readers can easily read her emotions. Hughes loves to draw fauna and foliage and she’s very good at it; this is also also evident in her newest book The Little Gardener. I hope you’ll enjoy this book with your wild ones! Never let anyone make you forget who you really are!

Recommended for: All Ages
Great for: Perspective, Family, Inner-Strength, Action/Adventure, Animals, Community, Determination, Discussion, Friendship, Humor
Book Info: Wild by Emily Hughes, 2013 Flying Eye Books, ISBN: 9781909263086

Joshua by the Sea

JoshuabytheSea

Image Credit: Orchard Books, Angela Johnson/Rhonda Mitchell

I first discovered this sweet little board book at my bookstore, sitting outside in the bargain bins. It celebrates a black family’s day at the sea. I’m so happy to see the main character is a black boy because it’s still a rare thing to see in picture books.

In Joshua by the Sea, Joshua introduces himself as a boy who loves the sea and all its wonders. He happily plays with his toys in the sand and also introduces readers to his family as they relax and enjoy the beautiful day. He goes exploring with his big sister and also explores on his own, running happily through the water. My favorite page is the last one where Joshua gazes off into the sunset, his day at the sea coming to an end.

Mitchell’s watercolor illustrations are beautiful. She paints crisp blue foamy waters, white sea gulls and a beautiful rosy sunset. It’s easy to see why Joshua loves the sea. Your toddler or baby will enjoy looking through this book with its simple text, story and beautiful images. If you enjoy this book, there are a few more books in this series; Joshua’s Night Whispers, Mama bird, Baby Birds and Rain Feet.

Recommended for: Babies and Toddlers
Great for: Family, Sea, Vacation, Friendship, Adventure, Inquisitive Minds, Diversity, We Need Diverse Books, African-American
Book Info: Joshua by the Sea by Angela Johnson/Illustrated by Rhonda Mitchell, 1994 Orchard Books, ISBN: 9780531068465