The Pink Cheeks of David Roberts

I'm pleased to present the second set of picks from my3books' Contributing Editor and 57th Street Books' children's book buyer and bookseller, Angela Sherrill.

Pink Cheeks:

Little Red: A Fizzingly Good Yarn
retold by Lynn Roberts
illustrated by David Roberts
Abrams | 9780810957831 | $16.95 | 2005

This illustrated retelling of the classic Perrault / Grimm fairy tale depicts Little Red as a pink-cheeked and industrious young boy. Although the cover interiors and the first spread are saturated in reds, this color soon becomes exclusive to three important elements in the story.

1. Apples, which tempt the boy and lead him away from the “safe” path.

2. His Red Jacket, which the wolf snags for his disguise, of course.

3. Pink Cheeks: You can see this when you go and pick up this book, which you should. Almost every human in the story has pink cheeks. Even the characters found inside the framed paintings have pink cheeks.

In this version, Little Red must use his skills of negotiation, ingenuity and sheer keg-tossing strength to save the day. So, it’s rosy cheeks for everyone, in the end.

***

More Pink Cheeks:

Iggy Peck, Architect
by Andrea Beaty
illustrated by David Roberts
Abrams | 9780810911062 | $16.95 | 2007

Andrea Beaty, author of this wonderful book and several others, tells a witty story in clean rhyme and delightful dialogue that is not-to-be-missed. The story alone is worth a great blog-load of praise, but that is not the theme of this installment, so we won’t dwell on its swellness any longer.

We will move on to the matter at hand: the cheeks. Here again, Roberts has masterfully illustrated what could have been a Caldecott winner. Fortunately (for us), there was steep competition in 2007 and unfortunately, Iggy Peck, Architect did not win.

Once again, the people in Roberts’ pictures are painted with pink cheeks, even as his characters cover a great range of skin tones. Here, you’ll see a doubly pink-cheeked Iggy Peck, the Peck parents, the suntanned neighbors, Miss Lila Greer (Iggy’s teacher), a French circus troupe and almost all of Iggy’s classmates. But the double pink I mentioned above refers to Iggy’s other cheeks. That’s right, his bum is also pink!

***

Pink Cheeks Galore:

The Dunderheads
by Paul Fleischman
illustrated by David Roberts
Candlewick Press | 9780763624989 | $16.99 | 2009

As you’ve probably guessed, Roberts’s newest masterpiece is chock-full of pink-cheeked characters. And, again, the story is an excellent one. This time, it’s from Paul Fleischman, a prolific, quirky and well-known author who “...grew up in a house built of voices.

When I read this book aloud, I always start with this warning. “Okay guys, we’re going to read a really fun book, but I have to warn you that it starts with screaming, so if you are worried that it might be too loud for you, just cover your ears, like this.”  Then I show them the “hear no evil” pose and we begin.

The pinkness of Miss Breakbone’s cheeks, the aforementioned screamer, is one of the first things you see when you begin the story and one of the highlights on the final page. For it is here that her pink cheeks are balanced by her gaudy pink gown and exaggerated bust.

In case you, like myself, are curious as to whether David Roberts has pink cheeks himself, here’s a photo of him from the HarperCollins website. It’s hard to tell... maybe the pink shirt he’s wearing tricks the eye into seeing pink around that smile, but I’d vote YES SIREE. That is one pink-cheeked fellow!

The Final Word: Three pink-cheeked winners for every picture book collection.

Angela K Sherrill,
57th Street Books, Chicago, IL