Saturday, April 07, 2012

Four Playful and Amusing Picture Books

As I was typing the list of titles here, I realized that these four books have at least one thing in common: they are each written and illustrated by the same person. Something about author-illustrated books (or illustrator-authored books) appeal to me a lot. No doubt, some brilliant collaborations have produced some amazing books but the fascination for "written and illustrated by" is rather compulsive, I must admit.

There Are Cats in This Book 
by Viviane Schwarz

This book had both the 4 and the 6 year old amused by the clever way in which it pulls in the reader to interact. The little flap-like pages with cat-shaped cutouts and such novelties had the 4 yo reaching for it to read by himself.

 Tiny, Moonpie, and Andre are three cats who love to play, and nap. The book starts with them purring under a blanket which is just a flap-page, which when turned reveals the cats as if the blanket were pulled off of them. The cats egg the reader on to turn the page and join in their play.

 Quite innovative with a gentle progression of everyday events and no real story per se. But quite entertaining for the little ones, especially for the new reader in the family, with just a few words and entertaining visuals.

[image source:]

by Oliver Jeffers

We read How To Catch A Star by Jeffers which resonated with us and so we decided to check out Stuck.

A boy's kite gets stuck in a tree and he tries various ways to dislodge it, all of which involve him throwing things up into the tree which in turn gets stuck until finally the kite gets loose and falls back to him.

Why does he throw things in the tree? Why can he throw the animals on the tree? And such questions indicated how literally the four year old was taking this book.

And how delightfully silly it is that the boy tries to solve the problem by throwing things at it. I was particularly amused by the page where the boy has an idea to use the saw. Now, how he uses it has to be read first-hand to be funny.

And in the last page, the tree is shown stuck with the various things the boy threw up there to dislodge his kite, including something that looks like a rocket-ship whereas none of the pages earlier showed him throw that rocket-thing up there. Baffling for a detail-oriented recently-turned-four year old, but, it did not deter us from enjoying repeat-reads anyway.

The illustrations are amazing and the build-up is rather funny.

[author's book website:]
[image source:]

I Want My Hat Back
by Jon Klassen

The bear has lost his hat. He looks for his hat. He finds his hat. The end. So what's all the fuss about this book? Well, one has to read it to understand what all the buzz is about.

It took a couple of reads for the four year old to catch on, with me lingering longer on  relevant pages at subsequent reads without explaining.

The poker-faced expressions of the animals despite all that is going on, and the comical way in which the bear races back when he knows where he has seen his hat is priceless.

The last page is hilarious.The resident 6 yo couldn't help asking, "Did the bear really eat the rabbit?" Indeed.

I loved the illustrations and the whole presentation. It is clever, comical, and subtle. Not just a book for kids.

[watch a video clip here]
[image source:]

That's How!
 by Christoph Niemann

How does the digger work, Mama? How does the airplane fly in the sky, Papa?

For kids who wonder about how things work but are too little to pay attention to the factual explanation, this fanciful book lets them imagine how things might work.

Presented in the form of a Q&A between two kids, one asking the Q and the other saying, "Hmm... let me think" and then attempting rather far-fetched answer like Airplanes held together and operated by Chickens, Whale and Octopus propelling a Freighter, this book is by no means a serious one meant to help kids understand machines.

Of course, on every page, the 4 yo laughed aloud before emphatically stating, "No, that's not really how it works!" even though he doesn't quite know how they really work.

[image source: ]

1 comment:

sathish said...

Sheela, There was so much of buzz about the 'I want my Hat back'.

Glad to hear that it lives up to the hype.

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