Offbeat Picture Books for Your Imaginative Ones

by Amy Kraft on May 11, 2012

My review piles are starting to get to Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout-proportions, so expect some round-ups in coming weeks across a variety of categories. Today’s round-up is all about gorgeous picture books that focus on the imagination and creativity of kids.

The Word Collector by Sonja Wimmer

In this beautifully illustrated book, a girl named Luna collects words the way some people collects stamps. The words that she collects sprinkle through the page, sometimes looking like stamped letters or collage or fireflies in a jar. She collected all of these words, but then started to notice that the words were starting to disappear. People were just too busy and they didn’t think that the words were important anymore., so Luna packed her bag and went on a journey to spread her words where there was hate or loneliness or sadness. Amazing what a difference beautiful language can make. I love the fractured look of the text as it tucks in and out of the page, but the publisher must have been worried that they were too hard for readers to assemble, so the last spread of the book reiterates the text of the book.

An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton

I remember hearing about An Awesome Book when it circled the Internet what seems like ages ago, but never really spent time with it until recently, when the author sent me a copy. (You can also read it online along with his other awesome book.) It’s a bit like The Word Collector. It bleakly explains that some people don’t dream of rocket-powered unicorns. No, they dream of things like furniture and matching silverware. Ugh, can you imagine? Surely not, because you’re awesome, too, right? You totally dream of dancing wild animals with diamond-coated wings, right? This book is a great reminder that dreaming big can change the world. Say, it would make an awesome graduation present!

Martin on the Moon by Marine Audet, illustrated by Luc Melanson

Martin sits in class on the first day, noticing things about his brand new school. At first it’s ordinary stuff like how the girl in front of him would look like his friend Athena if she had braids, or how his new teacher has hair like his cat. Soon his daydreams and memories take over, like the river he knew so well and the poetry his Mum Mum writes. He tries so hard to concentrate but he ends up on the moon. This book is translated from the French, and it has a lovely poetic quality as Martin makes it through his first day of school.

Little Lamb, Have You Any Wool? by Isabel Minhos Martins, illustrated by Yara Kono.

“Little lamb, little lamb, have you any wool?” is the question a boy asks of his sheep so he may have wool to make a sweater. Soon he’s asking for more and more wool to make a scarf… and a hat… and a coat… and mittens… and socks so that he won’t be cold. Soon he realizes that the sheep might get cold, too, so he uses the wool to make those things for the sheep as well. Martins has written a very sweet story, but it’s really Yara Kono’s illustrations that make this book for me, wonderfully simple and textural and adorable.

If All the Animals Came Inside by Eric Pinder, illustrated by Marc Brown

I had first mentioned this book when hearing about Little Brown’s spring lineup, and now a copy of the book has come inside our home. A boy imagines with glee what would happen if his house filled with wild animals. Sure, his sisters and parents wouldn’t like it, but he would! The bouncy verse has him riding elephants, playing hide and seek with monkeys, and racing with an ostrich and giraffe. Each verse ends with a variation on, “The walls would tremble. The dressers would shake. Oh, what a terrible mess we would make!” Soon the boy realizes that having a house full of animals could have its drawbacks, too. Marc Brown (yes, the Marc Brown of Arthur fame) brings the animals to life in a wild style that mixes textural paintings with photographic elements in a really lively way. This book is happy-making.

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