Thursday 2 August 2018

COOL BOOKS for HOT DAYS – Dianne Hofmeyr

When the days are long and a hammock beckons, chill out with a child and page through these picturebooks… infinite skies, turquoise seas. starry nights, meandering rivers and deep lagoons.. bestow a feeling of calm when temperatures soar.

First off… CIRCLE by Jeannie Baker – a book that reminds us that everything in nature is connected. Illustrated in textured collage, we soar above the earth following the bar-tailed godwits, who make the longest unbroken journey of any creature in the world. Just beautiful with fascinating perspectives as the reader travels halfway across the world. (you might remember her book Where the Forest Meets the Sea but Circle is in another league.)

THE RIVER by Alessandro Sanna (in Italian Fiume Lento), is mesmerizingly breathtaking as it takes you through the seasons of a river – the River Po – and the stories and connections that each season brings. The way the illustrations are sequenced on each page, arranging thin wide panoramas like photos in an album, enhances the flow and rhythm not just of the river but of the seasons and the entire book.  Almost wordless, with small details of observation that carry the story forward, to keep a child entranced. 

No wonder he was shortlisted for the Hans Christian Andersen in 2016. For a glimpse into how Alessandro Sanna works:

THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT by Edward Lear illustrated by Charlotte Voake will delight any child with its red-sailed boat, sea scenes and rhythmic language. 

A further adventure of the owl and pussycat has been written by Julia Donaldson to extend the story also illustrated by Charlotte Voake.
The owl and the pussycat went to sleep
By the light of the moon so pale.
Their beautiful ring was tied on a string
In a bow round the pussycat's tail. 

For anyone who has ever stretched out on a beach at night and contemplated the stars, I can’t leave off THE SEA-THING CHILD by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Patrick Benson. 

On a hot night looking up at the stars, is just the perfect thing to do with a child. Even if a beach isn’t at hand, a cool garden or even a tiny roof-top balcony will open up the pleasure of contemplating the night sky in summer. What spectacular grandeur to watch the eclipse of the moon last week lying alongside a child.

Lastly some Venetian coolth in the illustrations of Jane Ray in our book, THE GLASSMAKER’S DAUGHTER which is out in paperback now. 

Can there be a cooler image than this one of the glittering glass palace complete with glass pineapples, created by the Glassmaker's artisans as a gift to anyone who can make his daughter smile. 
Taking this a step further, my granddaughter created a mirror card and glitter version of a glass palace pop-up card... which might inspire some quiet and cool creative moments for a child on a hot day armed with a gluestick!!! (mirror card is available online)

Dip into the cool calm of these stories. Explore the pictures. And just because I like this image below so much, I'm including it again. I can never understand why Niki Daly's, The Boy on the Beach, hasn't been republished especially with the whole BAME issue in the UK. This came out in 1999. But Niki was writing about other ethnicities long, long before BAME... his famous Not so Far Songololo came out in 1985 followed by the wonderful Jamela stories. 

Enjoy the hot days of summer with a cool, splashy picturebook.

Instagram: diannehofmeyr
Twitter: @dihofmeyr
CIRCLE was bought from the Multicultural Bookshop in Bradford.


Saviour Pirotta said...

Such a great selection, Dianne. Makes me want to dive right in.

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Here's a smile to you! :))

Moira Butterfield said...

There really is some breathtaking illustration around! Thank you for these. I’m off to the bookshop!