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Friday, December 18, 2009

Gift Extravaganza: Illustrated Friday!

It's time for Illustrated Friday, and in keeping with the groovy theme of gift guides, this one consists entirely of illustrated books! A nice feature of illustrated books is that they make great gifts for organizations, not just for people. I teach preschool and my kids go absolutely ga-ga over beautiful, brand new hardcover books. Other organizations, like hospitals, women's shelters, community organizations, and after school programs could find a use for book donations, I'm sure, so if you're looking for a good deed to do this holiday season, pick out a book you think is truly beautiful and donate it to an organization that serves kids or families. They will definitely thank you for it, and hey, you may be inspiring a book blogger of the future!

As with the other guides, links are provided to Powell's if you're interested in any of these titles. Personally, though, I got all of the copies used for this post from the public library.

The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket and Carson Ellis with music by Nathaniel Stookey
In addition to being a funny and engaging story, The Composer is Dead is also a really clever introduction to an orchestra and its various sections. Lemony Snicket is in full form with characteristic style and panache, and the caricatures of the various sections are spot on and made me laugh on every page. Plus, it comes with a CD!

Ella's Big Chance: A Jazz-Age Cinderella by Shirley Hughes
My love of reworked fairy tales should be evident by now but this one just might take the cake. The illustrations are breathtaking- according to the book's last page, the ball scenes are inspired by Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies, but all the dresses were created by the illustrator with inspiration from French designers of the time. Even if the story wasn't adorable (which it is, be sure of that) the illustrations alone would be worth the price of admission. This would be a great gift for a girl who was into princesses and would throw a little history into the mix as well.

Hoot by Jane Hissey
Old Bear, one of my favorite childhood books, has been a past featured book on Illustrated Friday, and Hoot is another installment starring the same characters (all stuffed animals.) When Little Bear hears a spooky noise in the night, he wakes up all the other animals and they go on an adventure to discover its source. This book is so cute, I want to pinch its cheeks! Perfect for a preschooler or anyone who loves a cute, sweet story.

Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve? by Jan Brett
Jan Brett has written and illustrated a ton of beautiful books and any of them would make an excellent gift, but this one is one that doesn't get as much mention as the others. It's a beautiful rendering of a Finnish folk tale where a young boy and girl befriend a polar bear to deal with some troublesome trolls. Adorable!

A Fruit is a Suitcase for Seeds by Jean Richards, illustrated by Anca Harton
I'm always game for a good illustrated book that deals with nature, science or the outdoors, and this one is a great example of all three. Beautiful watercolor illustrations and simple text explain the role fruit plays in protecting seeds and how seeds are arranged inside different fruits. There's also a nice question and answer section that provides more information on the science content in the book as well. This would be a great gift for a classroom.

Chicken Cheeks by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Finally, a hilarious book about animal butts. Seriously- the story is told in the illustration, the text is entirely plays on words, and my preschoolers, especially the boys, are hooked from the first page. Tons of fun!

And now, your moment of zen courtesy of YouTube. This was one of my favorite shows growing up and the songs were the best part!


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