June 17, 2013
New Kids’ Books We’ve Been Enjoying Lately
A new picture book by Kyo Maclear is a literary event. Her books (Spork, Virginia Wolf) are always extraordinary, and her latest, Mr. Flux, is no exception. Illustrated by Matte Stephens, the book tells the story of a boy called Martin who lives a very ordered life which is shook up when a new neighbour moves onto his street. The neighbour, Mr. Flux, calls himself an artist, though he doesn’t make sculptures or draw pictures. His art, instead, is the art of mixing things up, looking at ordinary objects in unusual ways and taking unconventional pathways throughout his days. In Mr. Flux, Maclear is alluding to the 1960s’ Fluxus art movement, though for those of us to whom such references fly above the radar, the book appeals in its simple lesson that change is not always to be resisted. It’s a lesson useful to younger readers, but one that I could also do with having enforced myself every once in a while.
And we love the new picture book by Mo Willems, That Is Not A Good Idea, which is so perfect for Harriet (age 4) as a listening-reader and as a reader beginning to read on her own. She likes the simple text, its repetition and that she is able to read along as I do. And I love the book’s proto-feminism and that it stars a Mother who out-foxes a fox–best ending twist ever! The book is stylized as an old fashioned movie, which you get a sense of in its trailer here. Once again, Mo Willems is a blockbuster smash.