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Pickle Me This

October 13, 2011

Our Best Books from the library haul: Sunny et. al. Robin Mitchell and Judith Steedman

Once again we’re cheating: these aren’t books I stumbled upon, but rather sought out after a recommendation from Sara O’Leary (whose new book When I Was Small is out next month, and whose Picture Books We Know and Love list is brilliant).  Sunny (and his companions Windy, Snowy & Chinook and Foggy) are all written and illustrated by Robin Mitchell and Judith Steedman, and published by the wonderful Simply Read Books. I’ve not read Foggy yet, but the other three have been read and re-read with much delight since we borrowed them from the library last week.

The stories are pretty simple– Sunny begins to listen to the sounds in the city, realizes that city sounds are beautiful and celebrates them with a hootenanny. Poor Windy loses her beloved blue kite, but discovers it at the end of the story much closer to home than you might have imagined. And then Snowy and Chinook, an arctic adventure of two friends looking for a birthday gift for Tulip the Buffalo (and there is bunting!).

These plots are perfectly complemented by simple illustrations which are not so simple when one discerns how the contents of each scene have been fashioned from ordinary objects. On top of being visually appealing, they are also pretty inspiring craft-wise, and constructed with a fabulous dose of whimsy. Also remarkable are the double page spreads in each book with simple line drawings reconstructing a map of the story so-far– little fingers will delight in tracing the dotted line and revisiting each point along the journey.

Oh, it’s true– these are books that revel in brilliant design. The endpapers are marvelously decked with the simple line drawings from the map pages, and the underside of each dust jacket contains a hidden surprise– a recipe for pancakes, directions of kite building, instructions for homemade musical instruments. They’re absolutely lovely, and beloved by both Harriet and I . Such a fantastic discovery, so I want to pass it on to you.

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