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Pickle Me This

June 26, 2013

How To by Julie Morstad

how-toI’ve never met a book illustrated by Julie Morstad that I didn’t like (see The Swing, and Singing Away the Dark, plus the Henry books) and so when I heard about How To, the book she’d illustrated and written, I was very excited. I liked the premise too, Morstad’s pictures answering the  specific how-to’s on every page. The cover image, for example, is “How to make new friends.” The picture of the girl sitting at the top of the slide is “How to be brave.” The images are always a little bit surprising, never quite how you’d expect the text to be accompanied. “How to see the wind” is a group of children flying their kites–I love that! I also love the whimsy of Morstad’s children, the exquisiteness of their detail–slouchy socks, pleated skirts, the buttons on their overalls. They’re styled, stylish even, but also timeless. I admire the diversity as well, boys and girls playing together, kids of different colours, different races.

How-To-slideThe premise is unbelievably clever, but How To‘s genius lies in its simplicity. I love the substance behind its charm as well, that the text is posing and the illustrations are answering such fundamental questions. “How to be happy” is the book’s final statement, accompanied by a two-page spread of children dancing, moving and being together. It’s a lesson as perfect as it is profound.

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