Tag Archives: imagination

Adventures in wallpaper

wallpaperWell, if any of us needed to find a reason to fear wallpaper…you’ve got one now!

I’m kind of kidding.  I helped a friend peel 1970s wallpaper off their kitchen once, and that’s probably quite enough to make me avoid it.

And yet, there is a very delightful picture book out in the world now, which imagines all kinds of lives happening in the layers of wallpaper.  There are even MONSTERS!  And rainbows!  And maybe a new friend or two, too.  The adults might keeping doing their “blah, blah” thing, but this girl will be off on an adventure to who-knows-where.  Perfect.

Wallpaper by Thao Lam

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Where’s my cowboy bus?

bus stop

Who knew that catching a bus was this complicated?  You miss your bus, but then the buses that follow include options for cowboys riding horses, bouncing clowns, sailors, and balloon fans?  Man, what neighborhood does this guy live in?

A seriously silly flight of fancy and a lot of fantastic fun.

Bus!  Stop! by James Yang

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This book is all over the place

theysayblue.jpgAnd that’s ok.

It all hangs together, the thoughts about colors and where you see them and how you see them and what you might do if you could float on a color or become a tree.  It doesn’t really even make sense if you’re looking for traditional story progression, but it’s beautiful, anyway — full of movement, full of imagination.  It stretches your brain a little and makes you wonder, “What else could I see or hear or touch or feel if I were looking closely?”

Roll with it.  You’ll be glad you did.

They Say Blue by Jillian Tamaki

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You say tomato, I say tomahto

blue riderThis book is a masterpiece.  Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but it’s 100% groovy at a minimum.  It’s wordless – how I LOVE great wordless books! – and the art is delightful.  There’s so much in the early pages to look at, and then when the book and imagination take off, it’s like happy paintings are exploding on the page.

Your average kindergartner might interpret it a bit differently, however.  Seeing that wonderful blue horse with the long, colorful tail might lead them to say, “It looks like lightning is coming out of that horse’s butt!”  I’m pretty sure that’s not what the artist was going for, but you never know.  Perhaps Geraldo Valério has a sense of humor and an ability to look into a five year old’s not-so-deep thoughts.  Maybe the joke is on me, my friends.

So enjoy it as an adult or share it with a kid who can appreciate the bright, thrilling fun of it.  But maybe stay away from the cold medication while reading this one or prepare for giggles, lots of giggles.

Blue Rider by Geraldo Valério

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Play and joy and fighting and forgiving

draw the lineI love a good wordless picture book – so many possible uses!  Whether you’re working with language learners or young writers or kids who are learning how stories work, they are so amazing for starting conversations and thinking through how things work.  And if they’re blessed with amazing art, that is awesome, too.

Draw the Line gives us a lot to work with.  Two boys drawing lines, a little imagination, some struggle, and suddenly they’ve created a canyon between them.  Will they be able to bridge this divide?  Yes, of course.  They’ll also give you an opportunity to talk about what happens when you fight, how you make up and move forward, and how much fun it is to play with new friends.  Also, you can use it as an excuse to revisit Harold and the Purple Crayon or the Journey series by Aaron Becker.

Draw the Line by Kathryn Otoshi

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Sweet, light, fluffy

someonelikemeIt’s January, and it’s been really cold, although not “bomb cyclone” cold.  Just super-duper, the-car-doesn’t-even-warm-up-enough-for-heat-until-you-get-to-work cold.

And I never seem to sleep well in January, which could be for all kinds of reasons this year—politics, teenagers, old friends and illness, memories creeping out.  You might think this would make me want to read things uplifting and positive and joyful, but really, I find myself heading straight for murder mysteries and teen novels on most days.  I find Flavia de Luce, a connoisseur of poisons, especially relaxing.

But then books pop up on my desk, and I have to read them.  Someone Like Me is full of light and fond memories and drawings that are beautiful but a bit hazy.  There is not an ounce of snark or dark humor.  It’s exactly what should annoy me right now, but I found myself reading it twice.  Why?  It’s not really a story. It’s more a description of how you might become a writer, by listening and imagining and reading.  It is sweet, but it’s wonderful, too, for this brief moment.

Someone Like Me by Patricia MacLachlan and Chris Sheban

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Not one word more or less

linesIs this book about a lone figure skater?  An artist?  A community?

You’re on your own to figure that out, but if you’re a fan of wordless picture books, you’ll like this one, too.  Kids who love details in picture books will love this, but you can make it as simple or elaborate as you imagine it all to be.

Lines by Suzy Lee

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Read. Repeat. Now read it again.

turn on the nightI came across this one in the new picture books at another library.  (Yes, I’m just that much of a geek that I visit other libraries in my free time.)  I glanced at it, and seeing it was wordless, it went into my stack to take home.  On the first read, I thought it was a little weird.  Then I read the inside flap.  Aha… I read it again, noticing a few more details.  And then again.  More.  And again.  Even more.

It’s the best kind of wordless picture book.  You could read the story each time in a slightly different way, and it might change a little as you notice more and more of the details.  Don’t get me wrong – the pictures are not full of tiny, over-the-top drawings that make you stay on a page for five minutes.  They’re simple, but deceptively simple.  Is that another reindeer?  Are the lights different now?  What happened to the sleeping girl?  Definitely worth another look.

Turn On The Night by Geraldo Valério

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Are Colette’s pants on fire? Or is she just blessed with an awesome imagination?

colettes lost petPerhaps a little of both.  Colette might be wanting a pet.  A LOT. Other neighborhood kids seem to be looking for something to do.  Clearly they don’t have 24/7 access to electronics, because so many of them are playing outside.  Before you know it, they rally to look for the pet, not even seeming especially bothered by the Colette’s announcement later on that her pet bird became so large it wouldn’t fit in the house anymore.

It might be an interesting book to read with a child who has a flimsy grasp on honesty.  How would they react to Colette’s story?  Or you might just like to read it for its whimsical and imaginative journey through an afternoon with some neighborhood kids.  It’s a sweet read either way.

Colette’s Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault

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You might not know it, but you have a story, too.

everywhere-wonderYou don’t have to look very far in my past posts to realize that I love picture books about imagination.  Over the years, I have bored countless friends and roommates and scholarship committees with my story about the red shoes an Indian graduate student of my dad’s gave me when I was five.  They were sparkly, pointy and 100% wonderful, in case you have somehow missed hearing about that particular memory of mine.  Why did I dream of joining the Peace Corps?  Why did I try to learn so many languages beyond English?  (French, German, Spanish, Esperanto, Thai, Vietnamese, a little bit of Arabic, and I think I’m forgetting one.  Sadly, what I speak of them now is very limited.)  Why did I think writing a senior thesis on that six-week trip I took on my own was such a good idea?  Red shoes.

There are no red shoes in this book, but there is a lot of imagination and a lot of traveling around the world, which also makes it pretty darn wonderful.  Look at all these amazing and intriguing places and things!  Sockeye salmon!  Pyramids!  Shirley from Sheboygan!  Gardens without plants! The moon!  And one polar bear that walks off the page.  What a joy to read to little ones or just to our solitary adult selves!  We can all use a little escape and a lot of imagination right now, right?

(P.S. Just to be clear, the title of this post is a direct quote from the book.)

Everywhere, Wonder by Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr

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