The Story Of The Kind Wolf by Wilkon and Nickl

“The Story Of The Kind Wolf” is a 1982 picture book by Jozef Wilkon, illustrated by Peter Nickl and translated into English by Marion Koenig. The story is now out of print and hard to find.

This is a Tawny Scrawny Lion plot, and very much of its time. This was the era of the vegetarian wild animal in picture books. Ecologists have long understood the importance of meat in the diet of a carnivore, and now understand how a single pack of wolves are vital to keeping an ecosystem in balance. But according to these Tawny-Scrawny-Lion plots, an ideal wilderness is one in which carnivorous animals become vegetarian. If this happened in reality, rabbits would ruin the landscape for everyone. Rabbits have ruined Australia, a topic covered metaphorically by Shaun Tan and John Marsden in The Rabbits.

Like John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat, this story definitely has a subtextual layer to it. Unlike John Brown, Rose and the Midnight Cat, I’m not sure it’s intended? For me, this is a subtexually a Jekyll and Hyde story, in which the fox functions symbolically as the wolf’s extreme hunger.

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Avocado Baby by John Burningham (1982)

Avocado Baby (1982) is a picture book written and illustrated by John Burningham. This was my first introduction to John Burningham. Our teacher read it in class. I was about six.

I don’t think I’d ever eaten an avocado at age six, so it functioned as a magical fruit, and didn’t strike me as odd that Burningham refers to them as ‘avocado pears’. I just checked: avocado is not related to the pear. Avocados were sometimes called avocado pears (in England) because of their pear-like shape.

Fruit is prone to changing its name between generations. Where I grew up, in New Zealand, my grandmother always called kiwifruit ‘Chinese gooseberries’. That’s what kiwifruit were called until the fruit marketing board got a hold of them and rebranded the ‘Chinese gooseberry’ for mass export, conveniently linking the furry brown skins with New Zealand’s most famous endangered bird. (Kiwifruit are not related to gooseberries.)

Then, when I left New Zealand, I realised only New Zealanders call kiwifruit ‘kiwifruit’ — the rest of the world shortens to ‘kiwi’, which is unsettling for a New Zealander self-identifying as ‘kiwi’. I am not a fruit!

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I Am Not A Fox by Wolf and Groenink

I Am Not A Fox is a picture book written by Karina Wolf and illustrated by Chuck Groenink. If you’ve ever read “The Ugly Duckling” and thought, “hmm, that message has problems”, then this one might be for you.

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Come Away From The Water, Shirley by John Burningham 1977

Come Away From The Water, Shirley is a 1977 picture book written and illustrated by British storyteller, John Burningham. A number of adult readers talk about the “two different stories” going on in this book.

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How To Make Friends With A Ghost by Rebecca Green

How To Make Friends With A Ghost is a 2017 picture book written and illustrated by Rebecca Green. This cosy supernatural story is written as a non-fictional how-to guide and because this book deals with supernatural subject matter, covertly teaches how to be a good friend.

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Hildilid’s Night by Durán Ryan and Lobel

Hildilid’s Night is a 1971 picture book written by Cheli Durán Ryan, illustrated by Arnold Lobel. The illustrations are notable for being rendered entirely in black and white until the sun comes up at the end. This story feels like it’s based on an ancient myth.

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Scaredy Squirrel At The Beach by Melanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel At The Beach Melanie Watt book cover

Scaredy Squirrel At The Beach (2008), written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt, is the third picture book in a series starring an anxious squirrel who deals with his fears by facing them head on, though his exposure therapy is comically accidental.

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Frog Goes to Dinner by Mercer Mayer 1974

Frog Goes To Dinner by Mercer Mayer cover

Frog Goes To Dinner (1974) is a wordless carnivalesque picture book by American author/illustrator Mercer Mayer, and the fifth in a series about a boy and his beloved frog. Wordless picture books are perhaps the most emotionally affecting, because they work with us at a deeper level. Frog Goes To Dinner works on an emotional level, especially compared to most carnivalesque plots.

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How Photography Changed Picturebooks

The American Boy, April 1938. Art by Edgar Franklin Wittmack

The first commerical camera is thought to be the daguerreotype, which changed art forever starting in 1839. To generalise, the function of painting changed after that. Before the camera, artists functioned as photographers do today; the skill of authentic reproduction was highly valued because there was no other way of recording something than to paint it in realistic, naturalistic fashion.

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Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Byron Barton

Gila Monsters Meet You at the Airport (1980) is an American picture book written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and illustrated by Byron Barton. This story teaches the young reader to recognise a regional stereotype, and to question its veracity. This story was chosen for the first season of Reading Rainbow.

I had to look up the meaning of gila monster:

A heavy, typically slow-moving lizard, up to 60 cm (2.0 ft) long, the Gila monster is the only venomous lizard native to the United States and one of only two known species of venomous lizards in North America, the other being its close relative, the Mexican beaded lizard (H. horridum).

Wikipedia
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