Contributing Editor Angela Sherrill (of incredible Chicago bookstore 57th Street Books) returns with a look at three charming books in the Fall 2009 catalog from Kids Can Press. Angela's last post on my3books was a look at the Pink Cheeks of David Roberts.
I love the details in a copyright page. Even when I have no idea what some of them mean. If you really want the details and history of copyrights, rest assured that the U.S. Copyright Office has a horridly boring website where you can fall asleep while browsing.
What initially caught my attention on the copyright pages of these three Kids Can books were the illustration methods. I'll spare you the wonder of the font names and let you explore those on your own time. Here, we're looking at three examples of author/illustrators that do both and do it well. They are all on the Fall 2009 list from Kids Can Press and available now.
Have I Got A Book For You!
by Melanie Watt
Kids Can Press | 9781554532896 | $16.95 | Aug 2009
From the copyright page: “The artwork in the book was rendered in charcoal pencil and assembled digitally.”
If you don’t love Melanie Watt already, you have missed out on years of enjoyment, so don’t wait another day to join in the fun. Booksellers, librarians and families all over the continent have been laughing at and with Scaredy Squirrel. His fearful antics and preparedness tactics are endlessly funny.
Melanie’s newest character is no Scaredy Squirrel, but the book is a loony treat all its own. Meet Mr. Al Foxword as he tries to sell you a book. This book, in fact. Al's suits and desperate smile leave much to be desired. If nothing else, Al Foxword is enthusiastic. You should be, too, when you read this book. I insist you give this one the proper treatment by reading it aloud in your best enthusiastic-infomercial or used-car-salesmen voice. Whatever you do, don’t skip to the end. Read it through properly and enjoy this flim-flam fox. He's got a few tricks up his polyester sleeves.
By the way, Melanie knows this is one ridiculously silly book. Check that copyright page again for her dedication.
Big Bear Hug
by Nicholas Oldland
Kids Can Press | 9781554534647 | $16.95 | Sept 2009
From the copyright page: “The artwork in this book was rendered in Photoshop.”
The illustrations make this book look like a cartoon, but the message is bit more serious than your typical bear-centric cartoon. First of all, this bear is a real sweetheart. He hugs (read loves) everything in the forest. But even the patience of this furry and lovable creature is tested when an overweight and empty-headed woodcutter comes into the picture. What results is a message of tolerance that trumps the “green” message we've come to expect.
I wouldn't have suspected myself to be a fan of a “green”, Photoshop-ed picture book, but this one surpassed all my expectations. Thanks to that handy copyright page, I must confront my prejudice against illustrations rendered without the artistic tools of the previous millennium and allow that for some artists “the medium is transcended by a powerful sense of vision.”
And if we check that copyright page again for Oldland's dedication, we'll see that he did indeed have a vision — it came from his mother.
Binky the Space Cat
by Ashley Spires
$7.95, 9781554533091, 2009
From the copyright page: “The artwork in the book was rendered in ink, watercolor and cat fur.”
The world of children's picture books is not lacking in space traveling animals. Whether they reference historical space trips such as Laika and Ham, or purely imaginative one such as Green Wilma or David Carter's bugs.
What makes Binky so wonderful in the world of well-traveled fictional characters? Maybe it's that unique mixture of ink, watercolor and cat fur? I think it's the wacky shape of his head and the deft hand of talented illustrator. But who am I? I can't write OR draw!
The Final Word: If it's a wonderful little press like Kids Can, go ahead and check the copyright page every once in awhile. You might find enlightenment there.
-- Angela K Sherrill
57th Street Books