Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking by Philippe Coudray
This is another winner from Toon Books. Their graphic novel line up for elementary aged children manages to be funny, smart and perfectly age appropriate. Originally published in France, this graphic novel has a certain elegance and style. Each comic in the book ranges from three to six panels, telling small stories in a quick, simple way. The humor ranges from a quiet contemplative joke about friendship to a physical slap-stick style. Coudray has woven those styles together so the book moves from one level to another seamlessly, creating a dynamic and surprising reading effect.
Coudray’s humor is multi-faceted and great fun to read. The book moves from one sort of humor to another with great ease. The illustrations are colorful but in a more sophisticated palette than many children’s books. A lot of the humor is physical, so the illustrations convey much of it. Even in the broadest of slapstick, there is a feel of style that makes it a unique read.
The book is laugh-out-loud funny and also great fun to share aloud with children. This is a graphic novel that belongs in all public libraries, because it is a great hook for reluctant readers. Appropriate for ages 5-9.
Reviewed from library copy.
Also reviewed by Pink Me.
Brother Sun, Sister Moon: Saint Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Creatures by Katherine Paterson, illustrated by Pamela Dalton
Acclaimed author, Katherine Paterson has reworked a hymn of praise first said by Saint Francis of Assisi. It praises God for our Brother Sun, Sister Moon, and Sister Stars. Brother Wind and Brother Air are praised for being both harsh and mild. Sister Water is thanked for being life-giving and Brother Fire is thanked for both warmth and playfulness. The song of praise moves through Death as well, thanking God for the days we are given and the love that we are ushered into at death. It is a universal prayer made joyous through Paterson’s changes to Saint Francis’ original version, which is included at the end of the book.
The delicacy of Paterson’s writing is not apparent until her words are compared with the original. She has carefully teased deeper meaning from his words. At the same times she has made them more appropriate for young readers and listeners. The hymn of praise sings as she has written it, endowed with a new grace thanks to her skill.
Dalton’s illustrations are simply exquisite. Using a cut paper technique that involves delicate knife work, watercolor painting, and then a process of being steeped in coffee, the result is luminous yet rustic. It suits this subject matter perfectly, managing to be beautiful but not too lofty.
This is a magnificent selection for libraries’ religious shelves, one that will speak to people of many faiths and is phenomenally appealing and beautiful. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.
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You can see Dalton create her art in the video below: