Thursday, June 17, 2010

Papakura Library guest post: Top 5 picture books for adults to enjoy

List by Emily (Papakura Library)

"What is the use of a book', thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"
- Lewis Carroll

I was reading the Top 5 animated family flicks that bear repeat viewing post, and this comment struck a chord with me:

“Shrek is deservedly an animated classic, with not only a great plot but so many tiny in-jokes and sly digs that happily shoot over the heads of small kids and score a hit with parents.”

Not only is that absolutely true, but it made me think about how there are some really awesome picture books that the same could be said about.

Picture books tend to be read by parents to young children, but the following (I think) are enjoyable enough for any adults to read, parents or not.

They have a humour and/or tenderness that won’t fully be appreciated by a child, so I think more grown-ups should venture into the picture book section, and discover some of the gems hiding on the shelves.

Kiwi mums / Yvonne Morrison
A humorous look at the different qualities of New Zealand mums.

Emily's note: This story takes a light-hearted look at a diverse range of typically 'Noo Zild' mothers, from the Kiwi Mum who "won’t gossip, a secret she won’t tell...(except to friends and neighbours – and the hairdresser as well)" to the Kiwi Mum who "When you are crook, brings Milo, and brings bikkies ... but, just beware, her radar knows when kids are pulling sickies!" The illustrations are a delightful mix of hand drawings manipulated in Photoshop coupled with slightly blurred photographs (including a photo of a well known fixture of the Auckland domain). Grown-ups are sure to enjoy the humour and visual appeal of this delightful little book, and will probably recognise a few character traits of a mum they know.
Also available, the companion volume:
Kiwi dads / Yvonne Morrison

Sometimes love is under your foot / Colin Thompson
A dog is devoted to his master, who ignores him. Eventually the master comes to appreciate and return the dog's love.

Emily’s note: A rather quirky book about a man named Brian and his loyal dog Kevin. The story begins by showing how Kevin adores his master despite Brian mostly ignoring the poor pooch. Things change though, and Brian learns the beauty of animal companionship and the essence of unconditional love. Heartfelt and humourous, with great illustrations also by Colin Thompson, adults are sure to smile reading about the devoted Kevin, a little dog who "...had to blink seventeen times to make sure it wasn’t all a dream."

We are wearing out the naughty step / Mick Inkpen
We are wearing out the Naughty Step - I lost the school hamster, and Josh fed the elephant the wrong way and we made the dog into a panda... Mummy is not happy... but the day she makes Kevin a chocolate birthday cake is the day that ALL of us, including Mummy, end up on the Naughty Step.

Emily’s note: A funny book about three troublesome kids driving their solo mum crazy, told from the point of view of the young daughter. The story highlights their frequent visits to the naughty step, something people who have seen "Supernanny" will certainly recognise. Anyone who has had, or has been, a frazzled mother will laugh at the escalating dramas, narrated with amusing prose such as "And then very quietly she said, ‘That’s it! That’s really it!’ And her words went sort of wobbly. "I have reached the end of my TETHER!’ And after she reached the end of her tether, that’s when she did the amazing thing..."

The big little book of happy sadness / Colin Thompson
George lives with his grandmother and a big empty space where his mother and father should be. One Friday on his way home from school, George visits the animal shelter. There, in the very last cage, is Jeremy, a sad dog who looks as lost and lonely as George feels. When Jeremy comes home to live with George and his granny, their whole lives change, and they learn that when it comes to love, it's quality not quantity that counts.

Emily’s note: Another great book by Colin Thompson. I really do love his work! Beautifully written and illustrated, this book takes a tender look at emotions in a way that is sometimes deep and serious - “…in that time before the weekend when lonely people realise just how lonely they are…”- and at other times humourous and heartwarming - “They mixed up flour-and-water paste and built a leg out of newspaper. They included the new TV guide even though it was only Tuesday, which just goes to show how much they loved Jeremy”.

Gilbert goes outside / Colin Thompson
Gilbert is not a happy cat. The lady he calls mum has put him outside and shut the door. Nature is horrible. The grass is hurting his feet and the only place to hide is inside an old paper bag. He has had a scary dream and now he is going to be very sick all over the big angry cat from next door.

Emily’s note: I absolutely love the character of Gilbert, a rather neurotic cat that Colin Thompson has created. This book is a very amusing read, particularly for those who are (or ever have been) owned by a cat. My favourite phrase from the book, and one that happily shoots over the heads of small kids, is: "It took him all morning to drag it across the lawn and all lunchtime to drag it up the steps into the house. And it was half past Oprah by the time he got it safely jammed under the bed in the darkest corner."

1 comment:

Danielle said...

Wow, so cool to see a guest post on here! And something so close to my heart... I love picture books. The mix of art and quirkiness and probably, I admit it, the happy endings, just hooks me on them. I haven't tried Colin Thompson and will definitely give his books a go, but some of my favourites are by Shaun Tan - 'The red tree', 'The lost thing' and his fantastic Junior graphic novel, 'The arrival'. I also loved fellow Aussie Isobelle Carmody's 'The wrong thing'. Oh, and anything by Maurice Sendak. Jeepers, I need to do my own Top 5 for this :)