Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Thursday, June 30, 2011


new illustrations for some old classics...
I think Lauren Child's collage-style art is the perfect complement to Astrid Lindgren's offbeat story about every child's favorite 9-year-old Swedish heroine, PIPPI LONGSTOCKING. Take a look at some of her illustrations...
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindren, illustrated by Lauren Child (2007)

But I have to admit, when I first saw Lauren Child's depictions of Anne Shirley on the covers of Puffin's reissue of the Anne of Green Gables books I wasn't sure if the fit was as perfect.  Child's style is so contemporary and Montgomery's books are so old-fashioned and classic!  A couple of things made me reconsider my initial impression: 
#1-This quote by Anne Shirley: "There's such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I'm such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn't be half so interesting." 
#2-This fact:  did you know that Astrid Lindgren loosely modeled Pippi Longstocking after Anne Shirley??  After discovering this tidbit in a Rutger's article, I think it was genius that the same illustrator would draw both characters.  And I can't honestly think of anyone better than Child - she really captured their spirits.

It's exciting to know that Lauren's book covers will draw a new generation of young reader's to Lucy Maude Montgomery's classic stories...don't you think so?

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (2009) 

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery (2009)

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery (2009)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


her book collaborations with photographer Polly Borland...
Austrailian born Polly Borland, an award winning and widely acclaimed photographer, is one of the few people to have been allowed into Buckingham Palace to photograph the Queen.  Her beautiful work is a perfect compliment to Lauren Child's unique artwork and storytelling.

The finished product of their first collaboration was a stunningly original and fresh interpretation of a classic Hans Christian Andersen tale,  THE PRINCESS AND THE PEA (2006)

...REAL Princesses do not grow on trees.  You have to WAIT for one to come to you.  And if one DOES, you have to discover if she is a REAL Princess.
The queen having the servants ready the bed ready with 12 feather mattresses...
and one "small pea-green garden pea".
The photographs are of Child's miniature modeled scenes, which look like diorama theatre sets.  It's like stepping into a world of paper dolls dressed in intricately patterned costumes, positioned in delightfully furnished rooms of a royal dollhouse mansion! Girls of all ages (and maybe their aspiring Princes-to-be sibling brothers) will love this book.
The prince: "a nice boy and not unpleasant to look at--in fact, handsome--not TOO
handsome, just handsome enough."  
The Prince tells his parents,  "She must be more mesmerizing than the moon and I must find her more
fascinating than all the stars in the sky. And there must be a certain…something about her."

Child's and Borland's second team effort was GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS (2009).  
When you open this book you enter an enchanting forest with a charming cottage, captured beautifully by Polly Borland's photography. Emily Jenkins was the set designer...The sets for the book took over a year to make. The doll-sized cottage, complete with winding staircase, is in reality about a metre tall. Real turf was grown for the roof. Special wallpaper and fabrics were designed and printed, featuring woodland motifs. Exquisite miniature furniture, including the three bears' beds, chairs and porridge bowls, were carved, crafted and painted by Emily and her team of designers. Tiny slippers were sewn, cushions stuffed and bed linen edged and folded. The tiny spoons were carved specially – even the porridge is real!

And there's a twist to Lauren Child's retelling.  It has to do with red shoes. Goldilocks' mother tells her:

"Remember these three things.Do not stray from the path

Be back in time for breakfast
and whatever you do - make sure you look after your little red shoes"

Isn't the BABY BEAR cute???
The Goldilocks doll, Mother and Father Bear, and Baby Bear were created by world-famous doll maker, R. Joan Wright .

Tuesday, June 28, 2011



"I always wanted a brother, although I doubt he would have been as nice as Charlie. I made him seven because it is one of my favorite ages. I never think of Lola as precocious and certainly not brat-ish - she is one of those children who is just very curious and has quite a strong sense of self. Lots of four-year-olds are like her. There is a retro feel to the whole Charlie and Lola world; the subject is simple and always about the tiny things in life. Tiny things, which can seem very big when you are four or seven."
- Lauren Child
Each one of Lauren Child's Charlie and Lola books starts, "I have a little sister, Lola. She is small and very funny" (she's four and she drinks pink milk!) Who can resist that?? According to Child, this sibling pair is "everychild - their stories talk about problems most children can relate to." In each story, we find patient Charlie in the predicament of having to come up with inventive ways of persuading Lola to try new food, go to bed, or see the importance of going to school. The character of Lola is based on a little girl Child observed on a train while she was travelling in Denmark.

If you've read any other Lauren Child books (see yesterday's post), you'll immediately recognize her style: the witty humor and dialogue, mixed media illustrations, and text that wanders across the page.

THE ORIGINAL BOOKS that started it all (be sure not to miss these!):
I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato
I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato (Charlie and Lola)
I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed 
I Am Not Sleepy and I Will Not Go to Bed [I AM NOT SLEEPY & I WILL NOT G]
I Am Too Absolutely Small for School
I Am Too Absolutely Small for School (Charlie and Lola)
Slightly Invisible (Charlie and Lola)Slightly Invisible, Child's newest "original": This fourth tale was inspired by a boy who asked Child, "Have you ever thought about writing a book where Charlie actually gets annoyed with Lola?", this is the story of Charlie's attempts to play on his own with his friend Marv - and Lola's efforts to engage them.

(My son and daughter, David and Mary, were a lot like Charlie and Lola.  David was definitely patient with his sister, although Mary wasn't quite as energetic or persistent as Lola... when one of them had a friend over - and then permanently when we added Little Brother Jonny into the mix -  they had to adapt to the dynamic that came with being three, like in SLIGHTLY INVISIBLE!)

"Oh," says Lola.  "Would you maybe like to have a tea party instead?"

The four original books by this prolific British children's book author/illustrator were adapted as a cartoon television series in 2005 in Britain.  The episodes (now available on DVD) were also shown on Playhouse Disney here in the U.S. and have been as popular with parents as with their kids. The characters, voiced by children with adorable British accents, are endearing.  Her titles are hilarious...

These Spin-off books are based on scripts and animation from the series (simpler than originals, but still entertaining and fun - 24 pages - click on titles to see cover art and read reviews):
I Am Extremely Absolutely Boiling
I'm Just Not Keen On Spiders
But I Am An Alligator
I've Won, No I've Won, No I've Won
Snow Is My Favorite and My Best
But Excuse Me That Is My Book 
We Honestly Can Look After Your Dog
My Wobbly Tooth Must Not Ever Never Fall Out 
Say Cheese!
I'm Really Ever So Not Well
This Is Actually My Party
I Can Do Anything That's Everything All on My Own
I Want to Be Much More Bigger Like You

The DVD'S of the Charlie and Lola shows from Disney Playhouse can be purchased HERE.

There are also games and other "fun stuff" on the CHARLIE AND LOLA WEBSITE.