How to cope with sadness in J’attends Mamy

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I fell in love with this book when I saw the cover at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2014. Bought it right away.

It was in French and thanks to online free translation, I managed to understand the story.

The story is beautiful and poetic. A little girl’s granny had left the house but she was told that her granny would be home soon. Waiting for granny to return, the little girl spent her time outdoor talking to the trees, ladybug, dragonfly and many more.

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One day, her father explains that her granny is dead, that she is not coming back. The girl eventually understand that new phase of life begins; life without Granny.

I personally love the illustrations which were done in pencil where some elements were tinted red. The illustrations really complement the story and there was a moment, or two, that I broke to tears.

I am so happy that I bought this precious book.

Publication details:
Format: Hardcover
Language: French
ISBN: 9782874261404
Published: 2011
Pages: 32
Publisher: Alice-Jeunesse (Alice Youth Editions)

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A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope by Michael Foreman

A beautiful picture book written and illustrated by Michael Foreman about a boy living in a war-torn country.

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A Child’s Garden: A Story of Hope tells a story of how a boy cared for a plant that he found in the grey rubble of his ruined home. He cared for the plant and the plant slowly reached and covered a barbed wire fence that was built to not let villagers crossed to the other side; to not let him walked to the hills that he loved so much.

The plant soon grew bigger to become a grapevine. The grapevine brought colours to the village and all kids were happy playing with butterflies and birds. But the happiness was not long when soldiers who ruined the village came back and ruined the grapevine. The boy had a heartbreak. The plant died down on him. Seasons changed from autumn to winter to spring. Then he saw his vine survived; but on the other side of the fence. He was worried but then he saw hope; in a form a girl who watered his vine.

One day, the vine started to grow on his side of the fence. Soon, vines from both sides reached the fence and became entwined. The village became livelier again and the boy was confident that if ever the soldiers come again to destroy, the roots of the vines are deep and seeds spread. Nobody could stop the force of nature.

The boy never stop hoping that one day the fence would disappear so that he will be able to walk again into the hills.

Michael totally nailed it by how he illustrated the book; he adds colour as the vine grows.

As well as illustrating many of his own books, Michael has illustrated over a hundred books written Shakespeare, J. M. Barrie, the Brothers Grimm, Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. Michael has travelled widely – to Africa, Japan, the Arctic Circle, China and Malaysia, the Himalayas, Siberia and New Zealand – to research his books.

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Publication details:
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781406325881
Published: 03 May 2010
Price: £6.99
Size: 250 x 230 mm
Pages: 32

Credit reference: 
http://www.walker.co.uk/contributors/Michael-Foreman-2741.aspx
http://www.walker.co.uk/A-Child-s-Garden-9781406325881.aspx

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The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers Reminds Us Our Responsibility for the Environment

When I first read this book, one thing came to mind: this book definitely will delight not only children (my son loves it) but adults as well – maybe even more so for adults who will understand the clues laid out behind it.

In The Great Paper Capers, Oliver Jeffers teaches us of our responsibility to environment and to respect the nature; we can have fun and all with tree products but we must always make sure to plant them back.

 

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Credit: http://www.oliverjeffers.com/picture-books/the-great-paper-caper

The Great Paper Caper tells a story about branches that disappeared without warning from trees in the forest. The residents of the forest blamed each other but everyone of them had their own solid alibis. So they conducted an investigation; sealed the area, took photographs, made notes and examined every possible clue. But still, they could not find the culprit until one resident came forward with an evident. They analysed the evident and finally found the culprit; a bear. The bear admitted his wrong-doing and said that he was up to the paper air plane competition and had ran out of papers. The judge (a reindeer, by the way) sentenced him to make it up by replacing all the tree that he had cut down. The bear started to plant trees back. At the same time, with the help of the forest residents, the bear managed to enter the paper air plane competition.

My verdict: Although some think that this book was a let down, I certainly have my own illustrator/writer/reader point-of-view. I thought to myself, “How can I not cleverly think of a picture book like that?”

The Great Paper Caper is genuinely witty and charming!

Oliver Jeffers is an award-winning artist, illustrator and writer from Australia, who is now based in Brooklyn, US. Oliver Jeffers is widely known for his picture books for children, published by HarperCollins UK and Penguin US; as below:

  • How to Catch a Star (2004)
  • Lost and Found (2005)
  • The Incredible Book Eating Boy (2006)
  • The Way Back Home (2007)
  • The Great Paper Caper (2008)
  • The Heart and the Bottle (2010)
  • Up and Down (2010)
  • Stuck (2011)
  • The Hueys in The New Jumper” (2012)
  • This Moose Belongs to Me (2012)
  • The Hueys in It Wasn’t Me” (2013)
  • None the Number” (2014)

Jeffers has different styles of illustrating and drawing. His earlier picture books were entirely watercolour, and with the third book, the Incredible Book Eating Boy, he began experimenting with collage. The latest book was created making hundreds of drawings and scribbles on paper and compositing them together in Photoshop. And in The Great Paper Caper, he used the latest style.

The book was produced using FSC product group from well-managed forests and other controlled sources.

The Great Paper Capers
Paperback, 40 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by HarperCollins Children’s Books (first published September 4th 2008)
ISBN 0007182333 (ISBN13: 9780007182336)
Language: English
Suitable age: 8+

More info about Oliver here: http://www.harpercollins.co.uk/cr-100742/oliver-jeffers

 

 

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Yusof Gajah on philosophy of life: Illustrated in Elephabet art

Elephabet

Released in 2009, Elephabet, is a treasure trove of advice on life from the deepest mind of one of the masters of naive paintings; Yusof Gajah.

Besides his words of wisdom, what made Yusof Gajah a force of nature is his complex elephant art that is morphed in an abstract way in relation to humans.

Yusof Gajah has a deep and abiding love for children’s books and working with children. While a busy artist, he has managed to write and illustrate a number of books for children and have won the National Book Council Award for best picture book and the Noma Concours (ACCU) award for best illustrations. His popular picture book, ‘The Real Elephant’ was first published in Malay and has been translated into Japanese. Its enduring qualities have enabled an English publication in 2010.

I sieved through Yusof Gajah’s Elephabet for some of his life’s philosophy; Common Sense, Knowledge, Respect; and try to interpret/discuss the juxtaposition of his advice and illustration that can make sense to us; or at least to me personally. But I will be sure to compare his own interpretation and mine if I see him and update this review.

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Yusof Gajah on Common Sense: “It is a paradox that we have access to so much information today and yet lose sight of common sense. Common sense is the best source of guidance I know.”

In the C Elephabet, there’s an image of a cup. My interpretation: the cup could be half empty or half full.  This is a common expression, used rhetorically to indicate that a particular situation could be a cause for optimism (half full) or pessimism (half empty)[1].  When you hear/read something (information), make sure it makes good sense, and then try it. If it works, use it. If it doesn’t, abandon it. COMMON SENSE.

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Yusof Gajah on Knowledge: “The beginning of knowledge is when we discover something we do not understand. This makes us search for understanding and the knowledge gained empowers us.”

In the K Elephabet, there’s a kite and hands images. My interpretation: Grasping a learning moment is a lot like flying a kite. Benjamin Franklin flew a kite with purpose to uncover unknown facts about the nature of lightning and electricity[2]; in other words—he flew it to gain KNOWLEDGE.

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Yusof Gajah on Respect: “If elephants can respect each other then why can’t human? So, if you want to be respected, look at yourself for reasons why you would not respect yourself.”

In the R Elephabet, there’s an image of a rainbow. My interpretation: It is the unity of multiple colours that creates a rainbow. In relation to humans, people come from different cultures and religions and RESPECTing those differences can lead to unity.

The rest of the other Elephabet I leave for you to interpret. You can get this interesting art book for RM40 at Kinokuniya, MPH, Silverfish Bookstore and Scallywags Bookshop, Bangsar Puteri.

Overall, it was a pure joy to read this book. It inspires me a lot to wake up from slumber and make some books again. I am now up and about and already on the first stage of creating my next picture book; write a storyline. I end with a quote by Yusof Gajah on Inspiration:

“It’s wonderful to be inspired but one can’t always wait for inspiration to come before starting something. Work on what you want to do and develop it. Many times, inspiration does not generate action but action may generate inspiration.” ~ Yusof Gajah.

Description of book:
Title: Elephabet
Author/Illustrator: Yusof Gajah
ISBN: 978-967-5250-38-5
Cover: Soft cover
Category: Art Book
Suitable age: 12 and above
Publisher: Oyez!Books

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is_the_glass_half_empty_or_half_full%3F
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki?curid=31444778

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Khairul Azmir’s Phantasmagorical Illustrations in Tulip-The Dog that Ate Nightmares

I recently read Tulip-The Dog that Ate Nightmares and the first thing I did was look at the illustrations by Khairul Azmir Shoib.

I met Khairul Azmir four years ago while doing a group picture-book exhibition at Petronas Gallery and followed his art progress since then. His phantasmagorical art style quickly got my attention as it is both sinister and childlike, with characters and surreal scenes that inspired by Tim Burton and Edward Gorey’s works.

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Tulip-The Dog that Ate Nightmares is written by Quek Sue Yian in a narrative form of a girl who tells about her dog named Tulip. The girl describes how Tulip eats all day long; from the time she wakes up to the time when she reaches home from school and doing her homework. Even though Tulip looks like a balloon, she will still be eating and the best thing is, Tulip helps her deal with bad nightmares by gobbling it up.

In this book, Khairul Azmir brings Quek Sue’s texts to life in gorgeous pen, watercolour and collage illustrations, transforming the 18-page story into a breathtaking art picture book. His clever play of characters and surreal scene compositions does not only harmonise with the story, but it also enriches it with uncommon dimension; a world on its own.

Khairul Azmir took about a year to complete all illustrations because he paid attention to the little details as well as the effectiveness of every element in his illustrations.

A Lecturer of Arts at PJCAD , Petaling Jaya, Khairul Azmir obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts, Hons., UiTM, Shah Alam in 2000 and to date, he has illustrated three picture books; We Saved the Moon (2010), Kailash (2011) and Tulip-The Dog that Ate Nightmares (2014). Other than Burton and Gorey, this award-winning artist/illustrator also finds inspiration in his favourite artists namely Anselm Kiefer. Dave Mckean, Audrey Neffinegger and Jimmy Liao (Taiwan).

More info about him here and if you like to follow him on FaceBook, you can do so here.

Published by Oyez!Books, Tulip-The Dog Who Ate Nightmares can be bought (RM40) at Scallywags Bookshop, Lobby, Bangsar Puteri and Silverfish Bookstore.

Description of books:
Title: Tulip-The Dog Who Ate Nightmares
ISBN: 978-967-0481-16-6
Cover: Hardcover
Category: Art Picture Book
Suitable age: 10 and above

Pictures credit: Oyez!Books

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