Wednesday, May 07, 2014

This week's favorite author and illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds

Picture Books

This week, following Peter H. Reynold's speech at the NESCBWI conference, I went on a wee binge. I scooped up nearly all of his books from my school library and brought them home where I demanded my 9 year old read them. Then I read them aloud to the 6 year old.


The crop I brought home did *not* include The Dot or Ish, for which he is justifiably well known. These are my three current favorites:

The North Star, written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.

This book is about following your own path. This sound pretty simple as a theme, but I love how Reynolds includes distractors: the people who, with all good intentions, let you know you need to catch up, you're falling behind. I love that when our hero helps another character, his own path becomes more clear. I love the frog who tells him that he likes living in a bog. He's a frog. It makes him happy. I found this one pretty inspirational, and quite frankly, helpful. I'm not sure if it is a hard core repeat reader, but I like it very much.

I'm Here, written and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.

I began reading this with one of my older preschoolers. He wasn't in a good place, and I quickly determined he wasn't interested in reading it right then. But I wanted to get back to it right away because I suspected something that turned out to be true: it was a book that was about a child like him. A child who is left out and doesn't know how to make friends. A child on the spectrum, overwhelmed by sound and crowds, but still wanting to belong, to be accepted.

This squeezed my heart. I'm trying to write a novel for emerging readers that gives a similar approach to describing a child on the spectrum, so perhaps I'm biased, but I love this book.

Someday, written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds.

Someday is a list of wishes a mother has for her new child, following her through her life, until she is a young mother, and an old woman, reflecting back the love she has for her own child and her own mother.

When Peter Reynolds spoke about this book on Saturday, he had to pause, choked by emotion.

I understand completely. Someday was given to me when my daughter was born, and Monday night was the first time I managed to read it aloud without my voice breaking into a sob.

This one I fiercely love.

My daughter's birthday is next week. She will reap a crop of Peter's books: The Dot, Ish, and Sky Color, along with water color pencils, and sketch pads.

I can't wait.