Tag: creativity

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia (9780062290137, Amazon)

No one knows that Eliza, a senior in high school, is the creator of the immensely popular webcomic, Monstrous Sea. She spends her days at school working on art for the comic and trying to be invisible. Then a new boy, Wallace, comes to her school. He has the looks of a football player, but doesn’t seem to say much at all, instead spending his time writing. Eliza soon learns that he is a major fan of her webcomic. As their friendship grows and starts to turn into a romance, the two of them do most of their communicating through texts, online chat and written notes. Eliza has to decide whether to share her secret of being the creator of Monstrous Sea with Wallace or whether she can stay anonymous much longer.

Zappia’s writing is completely captivating. She writes with a lovely confidence, telling the story of an introverted young creator with grace and understanding. Her characters are deeply human, struggling with real trauma and finding their safe place in communities online where they can be authentic and original. She speaks to the power of art and creativity in your life, making something that you can’t stop creating and having others find value in it too. Still, there is a tipping point where fans’ expectations can become too much and overwhelm the creative process. Zappia shows how mental distress can be dealt with and progress forward can be made, slowly.

Perhaps one of the greatest things about this book, though there are many great elements is Zappia’s portrayal of introverts. There is a coziness here, a feeling of safety in the pages, as if they are forming a critical spot for introverts to bloom, just like an online community. The book shows how introverts may be awkward but are also incredibly creative, thoughtful and deep people who just need their home and dog to recharge sometimes, alright often. The book allows Eliza and Wallace to steadily use online tools to communicate and learn about one another, building their relationship with honesty and humor.

Get this in the hands of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. Appropriate for ages 14-18.

Reviewed from library copy.

The Carpenter by Bruna Barros

The Carpenter by Bruna Barros

The Carpenter by Bruna Barros (9781423646761, Amazon)

In this wordless picture book, a little boy is playing with his electronic device. His father works near him on a carpentry bench. Suddenly, the little boy is distracted by the zigzag folding ruler that his father has been using. He imagines at first that it is a snake hissing at him, but is soon building with it by folding it into shapes. He creates a house, a car, a large tree, an elephant and even a whale! When the whale spouts water that floods the floor, his father saves him by pulling him up onto the table and into the boat that he’s been building. Now they can float safely and the ruler can become the sail.

Barros embraces the nature of children at play in the modern world by capturing the little boy’s love of digital devices at the very beginning. The ruler though sparks new creativity in the boy, allowing his imagination to guide him through all sorts of playful ideas. The wordless format also invites readers to use their imaginations to fill in the story. The bright pictures have a great graphical nature to them that has a strong boldness.

As a child I managed to break my share of zigzag rulers, so I completely understand their appeal. This book is filled with imagination for children and memories for us older folks. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

 

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken  (9780735227927, Amazon)

One mistake in the drawing of a girl leads to new choices and changes. Making one eye bigger than the other was a mistake, so was making the other eye even bigger, but the glasses were a good idea. Other mistakes are covered by elbow patches and a lacy collar. Strange animals are turned into nice rocks. The girl with the long leg looks good climbing the tree. The other girl needs roller skates to fix the spacing with the ground. On and on, the mistakes continue showing the artistic process when you incorporate mistakes into your work rather than giving up, creating something really special.

Luyken demonstrates the way artists of all ages can use mistakes to inform their work rather than starting again or stopping altogether. The text is simple and funny, showing the frank acknowledgement of errors and then showing what good decisions can result out of the oops. The artistic process is on display here, inviting readers to explore their own artistic journeys.

The art plays a central role of course and the art is wonderfully quirky as characters emerge with lanky limbs, big eyes, and helmets. As the story pulls back from the central character, there is an intricate image filled with more children, fabric, ropes, ladders and balloons. The images pull back farther, showing even more of an inventive landscape in an unexpected place.

Creative, inviting and a gorgeous book to explore, this picture book will have everyone trying art even if they make mistakes. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from ARC received from Dial Books for Young Readers.

 

This Is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter

This Is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter

This Is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter (InfoSoup)

Released on May 10, 2016.

A little girl shows readers the dollhouse she has made from a cardboard box. It is filled with inventive furniture, food made from string and paper, and a set of dolls that don’t all match. The house has an elevator on the side and even a swimming pool on the roof. Then she sees her friend Sophie’s dollhouse where everything matches. The dolls all look the same, all of the rooms match with furniture that is all perfect. But when the girls play a little with the dollhouse, it doesn’t really work. When Sophie comes over, the girl is very nervous about showing her the handmade dollhouse, but soon the two girls are playing together in a way that they never did with Sophie’s perfect dollhouse.

I absolutely adored this book. It captures the wonder of creating your own toys and your own world of play. The cardboard dollhouse and all of the art supplies allows a little girl’s imagination to really soar. The book does include instructions for making your own dollhouse out of a box. And the story also shows how to make furniture from blocks and a TV from a small silver box. Children will be inspired to make their own.

The illustrations here are such an important part of the story. They clearly show that there is a warmth and homeyness to the handmade dollhouse. When the girls play with the perfect purchased one, readers will immediately feel the chill of that dollhouse and realize all that it is missing. This plays so beautifully against children’s own expectations too.

A grand picture book that will inspire creative play and the building of a place for adventures of your own. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from Schwartz & Wade and Edelweiss.

This Is Not a Book by Jean Jullien

This Is Not a Book by Jean Jullien

This Is Not a Book by Jean Jullien (InfoSoup)

Open this “book” and you will find that it is not a story and doesn’t act like a book at all. Some pages open up to be held at an angle and become computers, couches and refrigerators. Others flap like monster mouths chomping, butterfly wings flapping, and hands clapping. Still others turn upside down like the tent. It’s a book that is meant to be interacted with, seen in new ways and that becomes something new with each turn of the page.

Done in sturdy board book pages, this book will withstand being turned around, passed to other children and interacted with by small hands. Libraries will appreciate the lack of tabs and moving parts, the magic of the book is brought to life solely by the illustrations in this wordless masterpiece.

One of the most inventive and simple board books around, this one is a keeper! Appropriate for ages 1-3.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Lenny & Lucy by Philip C. Stead

Lenny and Lucy and Philip Stead

Lenny & Lucy by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead (InfoSoup)

This award-winning husband and wife team return with another winner of a picture book. Peter knows that moving to a new house is a bad idea, especially when he sees the dark woods. Their new house is on the other side of a bridge from the woods. Peter and his dog Harold spend a sleepless night watch the bridge to make sure nothing crosses it from the woods. Then they head out and use pillows and blankets to create Lenny, a guardian. Unfortunately, they worried that Lenny might be lonely out there at night all alone, so again they did not sleep. The next day, they took blankets and leaves and created a second guardian, Lucy. That night, everyone slept. And the next day, a visitor arrived, one who shows that despite the scary woods this might be a good place to live after all.

Stead has the beautiful ability to create a story out of leaves, pillows and blankets. This book speaks to all children who have moved and those who have been afraid of other things too. There is a menacing sense from the woods, and Stead combats that with a concrete feel of normalcy but also a strong creativity. This all feels like childhood to me, capturing that wonder mixed with fear that turns into something else all the more powerful.

Erin Stead’s art has a delicacy about it that matches Philip’s tone in his prose. She creates a linear forest, uncluttered and somehow all the more strange and alien because of that. The hulking bodies of Lenny and Lucy are so solid on the page that they combat that feeling just by being there. Readers will immediately see the safety in these creatures.

This is a story of moving but also about wonder and fear. It’s a brilliant picture book, one to finish with a contented smile. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.

Review: Some Things I’ve Lost by Cybèle Young

Some Things Ive Lost by Cybele Young

Some Things I’ve Lost by Cybèle Young (InfoSoup)

Explore a world of lost items that when lost change and grow and become something else. Figure one is a roller skate, laces flying that was last seen in the basement. Turn the foldout page to see it become something ethereal and unreal. The visor on the next page that was last seen on the lawn grows into something organic and living. One-by-one objects change into a landscape of imagination, becoming something far different than where they began but still having connections to the original object in form and color.

Done with almost no text except a description of the original items and where they were lost, this book is all about the incredible illustrations. Done in 3-D paper art, Young created not just the original object and the final transformation, but several stages in between where you see the clear connection between where we began and what it became. Part way through the book, readers will start to notice an underwater theme to the transformations, as we see coral, jellyfish, fish and anemones. There is a delicacy and luminous quality to the entire book, showing both the lack of permanence and the power of imagination.

Brilliant, surreal and completely amazing, this picture book is an inspiring look at creativity and imagination. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.