Tuesday, January 17, 2012

This Week's Books

I Know a Lot of Things by Ann and Paul Rand
A quirky read with surrealistic illustrations by "one of the most influential and groundbreaking American graphic designers of the twentieth century" as the book jacket reads. I find some of the phrasing hard to wrap my tongue around simply because it's written not as I would say it, but this is part of the reason we read books, to have our thoughts put into others' words often more eloquently than we ourselves could put them. Overall the book is terribly enjoyable. The text speaks with a childlike imprecision that both adults and children find amusing: "I know I can dig a hole this big", "A book needs pages and a cake takes ages to bake", and "the moon is a light for the night". Though originally published in 1956, the bold, graphic illustrations feel quite contemporary despite, or perhaps due to, their capital "m" Modern aesthetic.

Only You by Robin Cruise Illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
Obviously written by a parent, this story follows three different child/parent pairs at different times of day. It is all about the priceless, tender moments that occur throughout the day when you live with a toddler. The narrator acknowledges how one can love actions ("I love each hop, each spin, each shout... I love your voice, the words you say - the songs you sing throughout the day" ) as well as the more predictable features of a child ("I love your knees, your toes, your feet. I love your skin - so soft, so sweet"). I enjoy how the words could be my words as I read them to my son as the examples are specific and the sentiments  universal.
The illustrations mimic the narrative perspective, zooming in from the view of another watching the pair walk down through the park or cuddle at bedtime to the parent's macro view of the child as they interact over the course of a day. Chodos-Irvine skillfully combines striking shapes, loud colors, subtle patterns, and over-sized images, (the full-page illustrations spill right off the page; see right-hand image). This is a book that I could read at every bedtime.

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