This week for kids and their parents alike I have three fantastic children’s books everyone should check out.
Whimsical, gorgeous and unique with compelling art these three books cover all age groups; you are guaranteed a satisfying read for bedtime or for summer reading. Happy Summer!
by Aaron Becker
Journey by Aaron Becker is an adventure through a lonely girl’s rampant imagination (or is it?) when her family pays her no attention and she finds escape in a magic crayon. Built from the same classic foundation of children’s storytelling as Where the Wild Things Are and most notably Harold & The Purple Crayon, Journey is perfect for all ages as there is no dialogue. Its story and its narrative is told simply through artist-author Aaron Becker’s beautiful full page watercolor and pen illustrations as you follow the little girl through fantastic lands and architecture as she manipulates her experience along the way with her crayon. Her adventures culminate in the little girl going up against a cruel Emperor and the rescue of a mysterious purple bird.
Timeless, the book is just as evocative as it’s literary ancestors of fifty years ago and can stand the test of time just as they have due to it’s simple yet universal plot. And yet it does make small commentary on modern family life, particularly the effect of electronics on people and familial interaction. Poignant and sweet Journey above all teaches kindness and the importance of imagination and finding others that think and feel the same way you do. Many kids will relate to the feeling our protagonist feels despite the complete lack of dialogue. Looking forward to seeing this book becoming a perennial favorite and a future children’s classic.
Maude: The Not-So-Noticeable Shrimpton
by Lauren Child, illustrated by Trisha Krauss
A book for kids about ages five to eight who enjoy Edward Gorey style fables Maude is a quirky story about the eccentric and attention-grabbing Shrimpton family and then their not-so attention grabbing middle daughter, Maude. Each family member has a special attention getting skill be it their beauty, dancing, singing, humor, their taste in hats or even their majestic mustache, that is except for Maude. She’s the odd-one in the family.
Maude’s skill is that instead of being attention getting or extroverted, she has the uncanny ability to disappear and hide. Maude’s unnoticeable nature is seen as a disappointment in the family, that is until her family buys her an animal for her birthday present; it’s something Maude did not ask for. A lesson in introversion being just as an acceptable thing to be if not better than being extroverted and attention getting all the time, Maude is a darkly humorous tale that shyer kids and adolescents, middle-childs, or ones with a quick wit and a nasty sense of humor could easily relate to and enjoy. Trisha Krauss’ stylized mod artwork further creates a funny off-kilter and artful feel; the Shrimpton’s are a very stylish family. Wickedly dark, easy to read with fun various fonts and formatting and interesting art make it morbidly enjoyable.
Bluffton: My Summers With Buster
by Matt Phelan
A graphic novel for ages ten to fifteen to ninety-two Bluffton is a warm and poignant look at the sleepy resort town of Muskegon, Michigan around the turn of the twentieth-century. Matt Phelan creates a gentle and cinematic-like story in soft watercolors following the fictional resident Henry Harrison as his life is turned upside down when a troupe of vaudeville performers comes to take a summer retreat by their lakeside community in 1908.
Young Henry in his new-found curiosity for the bizarre world of vaudeville (particularly a zebra) that has interrupted the sleepy daily flow soon thereafter meets a young stone-faced performer his own age named Buster. Yep, Buster Keaton of future slapstick silent film fame. Based loosely on true accounts of Buster Keaton’s real-life lake-side summers, Phelan’s heartfelt friendship between Buster and Henry and their subsequent summertime fun, disagreements and reconciliation over a period of three summers is a perfect coming-of-age story and teaches the importance of dreams, individualized personal aspirations and keeping inspirational influences in your lives. And of course appreciate summers to their fullest. Brimming with comedic moments, the graphic novel has threads of more serious issues too considering the life of a child in show-business urged on by family, but in all it is a book is full of genuine heart and feeling. Bluffton is a nostalgic look at slice-of-life Americana and a fine placid introduction to the graphic-novel medium for readers of a younger age. Highly recommended for reading over a period of nights if reading together or to another, or great for helping readers branch out into more independent and sophisticated reading. If your children dislike novels, try this instead. Adults are urged to take this lovely trip back in time too, I found it extremely enjoyable and may find itself considered a classic as well. Extremely special.
Let me know if you’ve read these books yourself or with your child in the comments! Let me know what you think!
Until next week!
Staff Writer/The Doctor