On 23rd September, some sources say that it was the Japanese artist Hokusai's birthday. Other sources say it was more likely to be October or November. It doesn't matter when it really was as he certainly needs to be remembered as a prolific and influential artist. Hokusai was born in 1760 and died in 1849 and in that time had many name changes and artistic periods. He is famous for his 36 views of Mt Fuji woodblocks which includes his most famous painting 'The Great Wave'. I have spent time looking at his artworks lately because so many of them feature bridges and they became of interest during Book Week where the theme was Across the Storybridge. While searching for books about him that very young children and their teachers could use I came across two books that I want to focus on here. One, is a fictionalised information book from Prestel, the publishers who produce the spectacular Adventures in Art series, One Day in Japan with Hokusai by Julia Altmann. Here Kiku and Yoshi go to visit, their grandfather, Hokusai and he tells them about his life, travels and paintings. The other The Old Man Mad About Drawing: A Tale of Hokusai by Francois Place tells about Hokusai through the story of Tojiro, an orphan boy who becomes Hokusai's assistant. The strength of both of these books is the illustrations, not the text, but they soften what could otherwise become wordy expository texts that are not as accessible to such a young audience.
Lila Prap (Lilijana Praprotnik Zupancic) is Slovenian. Her beautiful pastel-on-paper illustrations are beginning to be well-known in many countries. Her books work particularly well with preschoolers. Why? is wonderful at helping parents laugh at that perennial question. This week I purchased her newest title Dinosaurs and it looks just as endearing and no doubt will be as popular.