I’m lucky enough to have grandchildren, so I’ve never had to outgrow my love for what we, when I took a Library Science class, called “Kiddie Lit”. Oh, who am I kidding? I never did and never will outgrow my love for kids’ books. I love ’em, from picture books to Young Adult. I even liked the first book in the Twilight series. What was the name of that book? Oh, yeah–TWILIGHT. Duh.
ANYWAY, one of the things I love about picture books is — guess what? — Yeah, the pictures. One of my favorite illustrators is Raymond Briggs, who did the earthy yet ethereal pictures for THE SNOWMAN. I recommend it to your attention.
Now comes Helen Ward, who studied under Briggs (among others), with an enchanting book called, in America, after the main character, SNUTT THE IFT. The original British publication was called WONDERFUL LIFE, but the American publisher may have been afraid that Americans are too stupid to know the difference between a watercolor painting of an imaginary creature on an alien planet and Jimmy Stewart.
Be that as it may, SNUTT THE IFT is purely beautiful, or as purely beautiful as anything can be which also contains little bits of mischievous humor. When you look at these illustrations, as Joanna Carey of The Guardian put it, “you think about where illustration stops and fine art begins.”
Miss Ward reminds me, warranted or not, in her Guardian interview, of a certain Miss Potter in her retiring self-effacement and in her love of animals and the outdoors. In contrast to Miss Potter, she prefers her animals to look and dress — or, rather, fail to dress — like animals.
Miss Ward wrote WONDERFUL LIFE / SNUTT THE IFT as well as illustrating it. The subjects it addresses, directly and indirectly, are dear to my heart: the beauty of diversity, the importance of mindful presence, the necessity of connection and the transcendent joy of friendship.
But don’t just take my word for it. Get a load of this:
This is a book to add to your library, whether you have a child in your life or only in your heart.
You can buy it at Little Pickle Press. Aaand, this just in from the promotional Pickle: “Be sure to enter the grand prize drawing for NINE Little Pickle Press books including the two foreign-language titles. What a great gift for some lucky child. Just sign up for the newsletter at http://www.littlepicklepress.com to automatically be entered. While you’re there, look at all the award-winning books. Good luck!”
WRITING PROMPT: What was your main character’s favorite picture book when he or she was a child? What was yours? Why?