Thursday, March 18, 2010

20th March Bill Martin Jr (1916 - 2004) Mitsumasa Anno (1926) Lois Lowry (1937) Louis Sachar (1954)

So many birthdays! I wrote about Bill Martin yesterday and as Lowry and Sachar are better known for novels than picture books I am going to write about Mitsumasa Anno, a very talented Japanese author/illustrator. When I started teaching in the 80s, each of his books was eagerly awaited. My classes revelled in Anno's Journey and Anno's Mediaeval World. They were like the Wally books were to children of the 90s. They were books where you followed a character on his journey through a myriad of locations, meeting many well known 'icons' along the way. One fifth class I had spent a whole afternoon listing all the fairytale characters they could find in Anno's Britain. Anno's illustrations are amazingly detailed and they cannot be fully appreciated from a casual browse. They need to be pored over. You need to get involved. They are great to view with a friend so you see 'twice as much'.

Many of Anno's books explore mathematical and scientific concepts or themes. Most 'work' at various levels, meaning there is something in there for children, teens and adults. He includes hidden jokes and visual pranks and he reminds you at times of Escher. Each of his books begs revisiting.

Anno grew up in a small town called Tsuwano in Japan. In 2001 the town honoured him by opening the Mitsumasa Anno Museum. Now I need a trip to Japan!

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