Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Sun: Our Nearest Star

Franklyn M. Branley ~ Don Madden ~ Thomas Y. Crowell, 1988

Wanted to drop in today to talk about Don Madden. Whenever I stumble across one of his books in this house, it's almost as if I have never seen it before. Each one is so vibrant and alive with color, each read is like seeing it for the first time. His books never fail to excite me, and more and more I am thinking he might be one of my fave 70s/80s illustrators. I can't find much on him except this from here. "Born October 24, 1927 in Cleveland, Ohio and educated at The Philadelphia Museum School, now the Philadelphia College of Art, Madden illustrated magazines, advertising, cartoons as well as children’s books."

And scans of his work for Playboy pop up here and there, but sadly keep getting blocked by my childproof fire wall... click here and hopefully you won't be so unlucky.

This site touts a OMG-how-awesome-would-this-be-if-it-is-still-moving-forward movie version of The Wartville Wizard (Don's most famous book) which, according to them, was the first children's book printing entirely in full color when it was released in 1986.

He's definitely a guy I'd like to track down and interview if he's still with us, but until that day, I'll share this little ditty from the gotta-love-um This Is a Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science Book series.

At night you can see a lot of stars because the sky is dark. You can also see a star in daytime, when the sky is bright. It is the sun. The sun is our daytime star. It is also the star nearest to us.

Yes. The star nearest to us, even though it is 93,000,000 miles away. Yet is it so hot and bright that it is the thing that makes life on earth possible. Sun helps plants and animals grow, and so on and so forth. The point of this book isn't really the few facts it is teaching a kid about our solar friend, but the fabulous illustrations that bring those facts to life.

I have a very secret dream of having a house wallpapered in giant-sized Don Madden illustrations, but until then, I have his books full of technicolor beauty to remind me every now and again of the amazing awesomeness of pen and ink.

Also by:
Is There Life in Outer Space?
The Daddy Book
Oxygen Keeps You Alive
The Wartville Wizard


Read along on FacebooktumblrTwitterEtsy and Graphic Novels My Kid Loves.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Homer Henry Hudson's Curio Museum

Homer Henry Hudson's Curio Museum
Zack Rock ~ Creative Editions, 2014

I know this is a "new" book (so new you can't even get it until next month), but hear me out first... 

I can't remember what post Zack Rock first commented on on this blog, but that's how I met him. One click on his website and one look at his illustrations and it was instant love. Perhaps it was the fact that he drew amazing birds. (You long time readers know that is one of my son's favorite things!) Perhaps it was the sheer amount of magical realism and fabulous detail in his work. Maybe it was the intellectual whimsy and humor he displays in each and every one of his drawings. Who knows... but whatever it was, it kept me coming back again and again to peruse his watercolors and follow the funny cat stories on his blog. I got him to paint a picture of my son astride a peregrine falcon, and eventually asked him to paint the banner you see up top. 

Zack's a huge talent, a perfect gentleman, and a true artist. 

I was lucky enough recently to snag a preview copy of his very first book (out in August), Homer Henry Hudson's Curio Museum...a book Kirkus calls "masterfully illustrated... infused with touches of humble elegance"

I happily second that emotion. 

ZACK ROCK. It isn't hard to remember, and it's a name that won't easily be forgotten. Expect great things from this guy. And now, without further blah blah...

"Everything has a story. Take the Homer Henry Hudson Curio Museum. Looks like an old schoolhouse. And it did, once, serve the children of Bolshoi, four towns over. The Columbus Day Twisters of '67 sprang the schoolhouse skyward, where it leaped and pirouetted like a ballerina before landing here, upright, its dignified demeanor intact. The museum houses -- to quote one recklessly alliterative reviewer -- 'a colossal collection of curios, discovered, described, and displayed by that eccentric explorer extraordinaire: Homer Henry Hudson'."

Part Indiana Jones... part The Tyger Voyage, the story follows an exploring (though semi-retired) bulldog and his collection of all things curious, gathered from all the most exotic locations in the most remote and mysterious corners of the world.

"Every thing has a story: the dullest clam may hold the brightest pearl."

Highlighting some of his favorites from the collection... a radial tide diviner acquired from the Ionian Sea... a Temple Montepaz choir finch from the Andes Mountain Range... each with a personal note highlighting details from the acquisition. 

"The Manneken Mort of King Ingmar: Figure composed of hundreds of thin fabric threads. When a Nottlander passes away, their friends and family gather to tell stories about them. For each story, a bright new band is woven into the figure."

It is through these remembrances that the bulldog convinces himself that it is time again to hit the road to find out.... that he still has more stories in him. Goodness. Each picture has a ton of hidden treasures. 

(Can you spy the prize from my favorite children's treasure book Masquerade... see it? The rabbit on the wall behind the couple?!) 

And each glimpse of the bulldog's expressive eyes (one blue and one brown) has you wishing you could hop on that steam cruiser and set sail for adventure with this daredevil doggie.

This is THE book I will be giving for the holidays. Not to be missed! Stay tuned in the coming days for a Q&A with Zack and a giveaway! 

I am giving Henry Homer the ultimate endorsement of........... 100,000,000,000,000,000 thumbs, five pinkies, two index fingers, and a pointer finger way way UP!

Congrats Zack! I sincerely can't wait to see what's next. Your momma must be so proud!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

RIP Madeleine Gekiere

The beautiful artist Madeleine Gekiere took her own life today. I'm not sure of all the details but it seems she was ailing and thought it was time to go. As you hardcore readers know, I was lucky enough to interview her in 2012 about her illustration work in children's books, especially the first edition of Ray Bradbury's Switch On the Night. What an incredible spirit and artist. 

Godspeed dear woman.

My original interview with her is here
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