Thursday, April 22, 2010

24th April Evaline Ness (1911 - 1986) Dorothy Butler (1925) Margaret Wild (1948)

I know very little about illustrator Evaline Ness, except that she is responsible for the Caldecott Medal winner Sam Bangs and Moonshine. This book is about a girl, Sam and her cat Bangs. She tells stories and one of these gets her into trouble. The resulting dilemma brings could bring up a discussion about morality or ethics. The book is dated, but still worthwhile. The illustrations are better than the text. The tone of the illustrations change as the tone of the story changes and they do get quite dark in places. Ness does cats really well!

Dorothy Butler, a New Zealand author and educationalist is probably better known for what she has written about books, children and reading than she
is for her picture books. I had read Cushla and her Books while I was at university and then years later, j
ust befor
e I had my first child I was introduced to her book, Babies Need Books. I used it in my consultancy work when running parent information evenings. I consulted it often to see what books Dorothy recommended, and I gave a copy of it to every friend who was having a baby. Then as my children grew I read the sequel Five to Eight. The library still has copies of these books in the parent reference section, and yes while the reading lists are no longer
current and the books maybe out of print, the theories and the sentiments expressed are as pertinent as ever. Used with current books which recommend book titles, such as Daniel Hahn's The Ultimate First Book Guide and the new Julia Eccleshare's 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up you can't go wrong.

And thirdly, it is prolific Australian picture book author Margaret Wild's birthday. It is hard to know what to say about her as she has done so much. She isn't afraid to tackle difficult themes. She has so much variety and because her stories are illustrated by a large number of different illustrators there is not a sameness about her books. My favourite is Fox, but Midnight Babies and The Pocket Dogs are most popular with the very young children.

P.S. What a wonderful birthday present for Margaret Wild, her book Harry and Hopper illustrated by Freya Blackwood has just made the shortlist for the Kate Greenaway medal! Freya's beautiful illustrations are certainly up against some interesting competition...Chris Riddell, David Roberts, Oliver Jeffers and Satoshi Kitamura among them.

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