Monday, December 20, 2010

Aileen Leijten's Picture Book List

Aileen Leijten was born and raised in Belgium.  After graduating from college, she moved to the U.S. to continue her studies in Animation Film. She graduated with an MFA in 1994. Her films were nominated nationally and internationally, and Sugar & Plastic won an award at the Sinking Creek Festival in Nashville. After that, Aileen worked for companies such as Steven Spielberg’s non-profit, Starbright, Hanna-Barbera, Sony Studios, Mattel Media, and Walt Disney Imagineering (theme park design). In 2003 she illustrated City Hall, her first children's book. Together with her husband, author/illustartor John Rocco, she decided to move to New York to focus on children's books. She illustrated: Bella & Bean, written by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, and she wrote and illustrated Hugging Hour, Penguin/Philomel 2009. You can learn more on her personal blog.

This is a list of ten of her favorite picture books:

1. The Doubtful Guest - Edward Gorey
    This is my favorite Edward Gorey book, it encompasses everything I love in a picture book. The text is brilliant in itself, but Gorey adds so much extra with his quirky, wonderful and very funny illustrations. A truly inspirational masterpiece.


2. The Rabbits - John Marsden & Shaun Tan
    I was so happy when I discovered this book at the bookstore. I couldn't get enough of it and I bought many more of Tan's books because of it. The illustrations are gorgeously sad and the text poetic and so moving. This devastating tale about colonization says everything that needs to be said, and the illustration capture the essence of what the colonized and their land are enduring.
3. In the Night Kitchen - Maurice Sendak
    Sendak approached this book in a very graphic novel-like way, and the result is stunning. The thick, black, pen and ink line is beautiful and the colors make this dreamlike environment come to live. It's hard to believe that this book has been ranked 25th place on the "100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000" list compiled by the American Library Association.

4. The Tomten - Astrid Lindgren & Harald Wiberg
    I never get tired of reading this book to my daughter. It's so calming, soothing and beautifully illustrated. No other book captures the long cold winter feeling, snowy silence. People and animals huddle together and this magical creature the Tomten watches over everything. So sweet.

5. Anatole - Eve Titus & Paul Galdone
    Anatole is a smart, sweet, compassionate and generous mouse. From the first page, one immediately cares about his little French hero. The illustrations are basically black and white with a some blue and red added here and there, they capture all the necessary actions and emotions and are perfect for this book.The story is smart, sweet and fun. Another book i will never get tired of.

6. Santa Calls - William Joyce
    The story is charming, but the illustrations are beyond beautiful. This was the first picture book I ever bought for myself. Joyce's style has this old art deco feeling and he fills the pages with incredibly intricate details, reminiscent of Little Nemo in Slumberland (btw, does that count a s a picture book, because I'll have to add it to the top of my list!)

7. Doctor De Soto - William Steig
    I had to pick one of Steig's books, they are all so good and so funny. Doctor De Soto is great, meaningful, suspenseful, and funny. It won the Newberry Award, that says it all.

8. The Swineherd - Lisbeth Zwerger   
    Lisbeth Zwerger is one of, if not my favorite illustrator ever. I love her delicate lines, subtle watercolors and swirly pen and ink work. I grew up with the Anderson fairy tale, and have always loved it, but Zwergers fluid illustrations make this book stand out, even from her other picture books.

9. The Lion and the Mouse - Jerry Pinkney
    I like wordless books, this one in particular. The drawings are so detailed and realistic yet very personal and humorous. Again, those swirly lines and the incredible masterful use of watercolor, makes me swoon. A stunning book.
10. The Story Blanket - Ferida Wolff /Harriet May Savitz - Elena Odriozola
The story is sweet and warm and good. The illustrations are great original, new and refreshing.Every single page is beautiful. The layouts and use of white space is perfect, the bright colors complement each other well and the character design is fresh.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christine Kettner's Picture Book List

Christine Kettner is currently Art Director for Clarion and Harcourt Children’s Books, imprints of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in New York City.

She was art Director for Hyperion books for Children and design supervisor for Harper Collins. In her long and adventourous career she has had the privilege to work with Rosemary Wells, William Joyce, John Scieszka, John Rocco, Sergio Ruzzier and Stephen Marchesi and many, many others.
About her work she says:
“Nothing is more rewarding than working with artists to make words come alive through pictures creating a tangible book that a child can hold in their hands, expanding their world.”

Here's her list:

1. The Snow Cat by Dayal Kaur Khalsa

2. Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag
3. Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
4. Puss in Boots illustrated by Fred Marcellino
5. Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd
6. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
7. How Pizza Came to Queens by  Dayal Kaur Khalsa
8. George and Martha by James Marshall
9. Uncle Elephant by Arnold Lobel
10. Shrek by William Steig

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

David Gavril's Picture Book List

David Gavril is a picture book writer and illustrator. His books include, Hector and the Noisy Neighbor,  Penelope Nuthatch and The Big Surprise, and Chicken Soup, a collaboration with author Jean Van Leeuwen. He lives with his wife and daughter in Brooklyn, New York.

I’m pretty heartbroken to not have any books on here by the Provensens or Richard Scarry but thought a few of these lesser known books might be deserving of some attention. 

The Tomten and The Fox by Astrid Lindgren illustrated by Harold Wiberg
Wiberg's beautiful watercolor illustrations of the winter night really make this one shine. There's another book by them called simply 'The Tomten" that is its equal, but this is the one I fell in love with first. 

Possum's Harvest Moon by Anne Hunter
Anne Hunter’s illustrations are wonderful and she has a real gift for portraying the natural world. This contemporary book is very underrated. 

Yummers by James Marshall
Most James Marshall books are masterpieces, even the more obscure books (of which there are many, he was as prolific as he was brilliant). This one was created in 1972, about the same time as the first George and Martha. If you are lucky enough to find a hardcover copy with dust jacket there is a wonderful picture of James leaning over his drawing board. George and Martha are pretty cool too. 

Who Needs Donuts by Mark Allen Stamaty
When I was a kid this book really blew my mind and it still does.  Its main messages/themes: run away from home, talk to strangers and eat a lot of junk food, probably won't win over too many parents, but the richness of Stamaty’s imagination just might. My mom, children's writer Jean Van Leeuwen, actually edited this book (it was difficult).  She remembers Mark at the time as being very poor and often hanging around the office hoping someone would buy him lunch. Small in the Saddle, a picture book from around the same time period is also pretty great. 

Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel 
I love anything by Arnold Lobel. Of course Grasshopper, Uncle Elephant, and Mouse Tales are all terrific but I think Owl equals the Frog and Toad books in terms of flat out undeniably classic stories. Read Tear-water Tea, Strange Bumps, Upstairs Downstairs, The Guest and see if you don't agree. 

The Bear and the Fly by Paula Winter
 Some years back when I worked in a second hand children's book store I discovered this wordless gem. The dark humor and (most likely) small sales history will probably guarantee that it is never reprinted but it deserves to be rediscovered. 

Snow by Uri Shulevitz
I love the mood of this book. The illustration of the woman on the television saying "No snow" is probably one of my favorite all time illustrations.  No two Shulevitz books are alike and I continue to admire his versatility. Best snow book ever! (Waiting for Winter by Sebastian Meschenmoser is also a winner in the snow book category.) 

Amos and Boris by William Steig 
William Steig was a childhood favorite. His original book Shrek (long before the movie) actually inspired me to try my hand at children's books. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble might be the more popular pick but Amos and Boris is still the one I like best. 

The Shrinking of Treehorn by Florence Parry Heide illustrated by Edward Gorey
I'm a huge fan of Edward Gorey's drawings, but I often find I like his work best when he is working as an illustrator. The Treehorn books are all wonderful; I find them unbelievably sad and maybe just a little wordy. Abrams did a great anthology collecting them all in one volume. When I was first starting out I saw some of the original art for Treehorn and was struck by the large amount of white out used. "There is hope!" I said to myself. 

On My Beach There Are Many Pebbles by Leo Leonni 
Here Leonni is like Philippe Petit walking the high wire and he pulls off something miraculous. I don't think we have to worry about any of our celebrity author friends attempting a children’s book like this (come on Madonna, try it!). This book is more like Mozart or Picasso, great art by a master.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Julie Fortenberry's Picture Book List

Julie Fortenberry is the illustrator of Pippa at the Parade by Karen Roosa (2009), Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast by Jamie Korngold, and Pirate Boy by Eve Bunting (both to be released in 2011). You can see Julie's work on her website. She also has a very inspiring blog on picture books.

This is a list of ten of her favorite picture books:

1. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig -- An emotionally moving fairy tale with funny animals.

2. Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham

3. Cottonball Colin by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Tony Ross

4. I Am A Bunny by Ole Risom, illustrated by Richard Scarry -- Simple, poetic text with illustrations to match.

5. The Stray Dog by Marc Simont

6. Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

7. Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

8. It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folk Tale illustrated by Margot Zemach

9. The Animal Fair, a Giant Golden Book by Alice and Martin Provensen -- A big collection of animal stories illustrated in colorful midcentury style.

10. How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham