September 2010 Archives

Me And You

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Anthony Browne
April 2010
Anthony Browne's wonderful riff on Goldilocks and the Three Bears has the dedication "For all underdogs". Goldilocks is no fairytale character in this version, but a modern little girl in hoodie living in a dull grey terrace. She goes out shopping with her mum. Their gloomy expressions speak of a desolate home atmosphere. Whilst her mother browses longingly in a butcher shop window - you get the impression she is too poor to buy the fresh meat on display - the girl goes chasing a stray balloon. All this takes place on the left-hand page of each spread. Meanwhile, on page right the bear family wake up and go for a stroll. They look like bears but dress and talk like ordinary people. "Daddy talked about his work and Mummy talked about her work. I just messed about," baby bear tells us.

After the girl has entered the bears' house, and they duly return, the tale follows its traditional course but Browne has created a version that will get children thinking and talking and reacting to the clever artistry.

Five achukachicks, of course!


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Chih-Yuan Chen
Gecko Press
May 2010
Still in his mid-thirties, Taiwanese picture book artist, Chih-Yuan Chen has produced several notable titles, including this amusing tale of a baby crocodile brought up imagining he is a duck. Chen's artwork is marvelously loose and free-flowing, and the book has been extremely well produced (on thick paper with buff page backgrounds) by Gecko Press , a New Zealand publishing house that prides itself on translating and publishing award-winning, "curiously good" children's books from around the world. Guji-Guji was first published in Taiwan in 2003 and then in this edition in New Zealand in 2006. I don't remember seeing it till now, so I am guessing this is its first UK distribution. On their website, Gecko Press claim to "choose books strong in story, illustration and design, with a big 'heart factor'." They certainly did that in this case.

The Land of Long Ago

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Elsa Beskow
September 2010
This is one of a large selection of titles by Swedish author-illustrator, Elsa Beskow, made available in English translation by Floris Books. According to the publishing details page this title has not been previously available in English. It was first published in 1923 as Resan Till Landet Langesen. The name of the translator is for some reason not given.
At first sight Beskow's artwork may come across as somewhat naive and dated, but it is undeniably charming and very simply accessible, as is the story. Two children are playing imaginatively on a dead tree trunk. They use a broken umbrella as dragon wings. While they are riding the pretend dragon a mischievous gnome makes it real, and away they actually fly. Floris Books certainly champion this author, calling her 'the Beatrix Potter of Scandinavia'. They even publish an Elsa Beskow calendar. If you haven't heard of Beskow before, visit this website: