Arlo's Book Club: Back to School

For Red Cap Cards:

Arlo is at it again, with some fantastic book picks for your kiddos' burgeoning imaginations, in this edition of Arlo's Book Club. If you're gearing up for the start of school too, and are out picking up pencils, notebooks, and five thousand glue sticks, make sure that you swing by the book store or local library to check these out as well. Our theme is Back to School--but we all know that not everything worthwhile is taught in the classroom. Museums, parks, different countries and cultures, or the outside world can offer an education that is just as important as what is taught in school. Read on for more:

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School's First Day of School
by Adam Rex, with pictures by Christian Robinson
Roaring Book Press, 2016
Suggested ages: Preschool-Grade 1

We are so proud of our own Red Cap Cards artist, Christian Robinson, for this amazing (and adorable) achievement. School's First Day of School tells the story of Frederick Douglass Elementary, a brand new elementary school who has first-day jitters about having kids attend classes inside of him. Related through conversation with his special friend, the janitor, this creative story is fabulous for any kid who is nervous about starting school, making friends, or expressing their feelings in a group. 

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One Thousand Things (Learn with Little Mouse Series)
by Anna Kövecses
Wide Eyed Editions, 2015
Suggested ages: Preschool-Grade 1

This little gem most likely works best for the younger set, but even as adults, we are enamored by the illustration and modern, quirky aesthetic that One Thousand Things displays. Written and illustrated by Hungarian graphic designer, Anna Kövecses, this book teaches children ways to distinguish some common terms, phrases and concepts--one thousand, to be exact. 

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There Is a Tribe of Kids
By Lane Smith
Roaring Brook Press, 2016

Suggested Ages: Kindergarten - 3
Winner of the Kate Greenaway award, There Is a Tribe of Kids was written and illustrated by famed illustrator of classic picture books like The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs! and The Stinky Cheese Man & other Fairly Stupid Tales. It follows a child on his journey to a "tribe of kids." On the way he learns the terminology for different groups of animals and other natural wonders, through experience and wonder. A beautiful book.

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The Teacher's Pet
by Anica Mrose Rissi, with illustration by Zachariah O'Hora
Disney-Hyperion, 2017
Suggested ages: 4-7 years

Zachariah O'Hora lends his bold & bright illustration style to a new story in, The Teacher's Pet, with words by Anica Mrose Rissi. In this story, the children's teacher, Mr. Stricter, is slightly confused about what constitutes the perfect classroom pet. Kids will feel empowered by having a narrative edge over the grown-up character in the book, and the details are laugh-out-loud. Tongue-in-cheek warning: spicy language abounds with terms like "farts" and "snot-rocket." Love this one!  

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A Funny Thing Happened at the Museum
By Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud
Chronicle Books, 2017
Suggested ages: 6-9

We've included one of Cali & Chaud's previous installments of the "A Funny Thing Happened..." series in one of our previous Arlo's Book Clubs (see here) and were excited to find out that another book in the series had been released. A Funny Thing Happened at the Museum picks up with another tall-tale told by extremely unreliable narrator, Henry, about his trip to the museum. The book is over-the-top with wild museum antics and parents can tell kids about certain exhibits as they read through the story. The perfect trickery: kids will learn while laughing!

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Diversity in Children's Books with Last Stop on Market Street

Every once in a while, a picture book comes along that truly makes a difference in the spectrum of children’s literature and all of those who read it. We are lucky enough to be privy to the artist of one such book: Red Cap artist, CHRISTIAN ROBINSON, half of the dream team that created 2016 Newbery Medal winner, LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET. Christian Robinson and the book’s author, Matt de la Peña, were recently interviewed on MPR (MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO) about the importance of diversity in children’s books. If you’ve got 45 free minutes, you should most definitely settle down with a cup of tea and listen to the show. Matt and Christian chat with MPR about what it means to create a diverse books in terms of both class and race, and what books have dealt with these subjects well in the past.

While a moralistic story like this runs the risk of being heavy-handed, especially when written for children, this one is not. The writing remains subtle and relies on Christian’s light-hearted illustration. With minimalist and colorful drawings and papercuts (he even references them as “lego faces,” ha!) the book accomplishes its objective while remaining soft. “I love this idea that a drawing has a life of it’s own, has integrity and should be respected, and I try to put that same spirit into my illustration,” says Christian. 

And on a quirky note, he talks about injecting a bit more fun into the text with the use of dog illustrations: “any opportunity to make the world more colorful, more exciting, more fun!”

Make sure you take the time to listen to this show on MPR. It’s a delight. Great work, Matt and Christian! To view Christian’s work for Red Cap, click HERE.

Arlo's Book Club: Holiday Edition

For Red Cap Cards:

Is there anything better than illustrated holiday books for children? What a delight to read all through the season! We’ve rounded up some of our favorites this year and can’t wait to show them off. If you’re looking for a gift for a young person in your life (or young at heart!) grab these up, as we are sure they will be treasured for always. Special hint: pack these away with your holiday decorations each year, and bring them out in December. It’s always a special treat to read them at special times once a year.

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We’re absolutely loving this edition of A Christmas Carol by the great Charles Dickens, with illustrations by our own Yelena Bryksenkova! It’s a new favorite of Arlo’s and the story is brought to such vibrant life through Yelena’s work.

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How many marvelous renditions of this poetic favorite are there in existence? Surely there are hundreds, but we tend to err toward the Weisgard and Fujikawa versions. These two masters of illustration have created a perfect artistic compliment to the traditional Clement C. Moore poem. Vintage artistry at its best! First up, is The Night Before Christmas with illustration by Leonard Weisgard:

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Followed by The Night Before Christmas with illustration by Gyo Fujikawa:

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We haven’t forgotten the lovable Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! . The tv special is loved in its own right, but we tend to prefer the tactile experience of a book, don’t you? “Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

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Last but certainly not least, a more modern, beloved holiday tale. This one has been through the ringer in this house and others, it seems! Taro Gomi has created a colorful world where Santa delivers gifts through the window, and mixes it up brilliantly in the meantime. Check out Santa Through The Window .

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Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Arlo's Book Club Number One

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go" —Dr. Seuss. BUT, you don't have to take my word for it—Arlo's Book Club is here to advise you! We've gathered some of Arlo's favorite children's books for this post. Which ones do you have in your library? 
 

How many wonderful things can we say about Rain, by Linda Ashman, with illustrations by Red Cap Artist, Christian Robinson? Winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Award, Christian Robinson makes us proud with this story: "A happy little boy and a grumpy man experience the same rainy day very differently—until a random encounter influences both of them for the better." 

Another favorite: Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Caldecott Honor artist, Peter Brown. A New York Times bestseller, an IndieBound bestseller, and an ALA Notable Book, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is about a tiger who finds that there is a "time and place for everything...even going wild."

"The blue dog is in. The red dog is out." This one was edited by Dr. Seuss, hence the familiar semantic style. Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman is a vintage favorite about mobile dogs--obviously! We love the illustration and poetic style. 

Last but not least, The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli. Probably the sweetest little book trailer you've ever seen, and an illustrative nod to Bernard WaberThe Watermelon Seed (pictured) is a delight, about an alligator who eats a watermelon seed--and the panic that ensues! 

What are your favorites??

Scandinavian Dreams: Part 1, Sweden, Denmark, & Finland

Scandinavia–such a whimsical and magical place: where forests, ice and ocean collide. The magnificence of this portion of the globe breeds art and illustration that is lively and inspiring. We couldn't give up the chance to focus on a few favorites from past to present! Such a daunting task as this will obviously take more than one entry–up next, Iceland and Norway!

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SWEDEN:
1. You may recognize some of these little characters, especially if you lived or traveled extensively in Europe when you were small! TRE SANDBERG is a family-owned children's book and branding company dating back to the 1950s, that was initially begun by a married couple of illustrators: Inger and Lasse Sandberg. “Little Ghost Laban” is a popular character you might remember, and Little Anna and the Tall Uncle, pictured here. 

2. Another one from your childhood! One of the most influential illustrators of today's fairy tales and animated films–GUSTAF TENGGREN. Aside from being in the inner circle to Disney's first illustration work in regards to animation–Tenggren also illustrated almost all of those LITTLE GOLDEN BOOKS you love so dearly, such as Bedtime StoriesThe Poky Little Puppy and Snow White (shown here). 

DENMARK:
3. This brilliant artist passed away just last week at age 90, but his work will live on, fabulously. Danish illustrator, ERIK BLEGVAD, is the illustrator to Bed-knob and Broomstick, Hans Christian Andersen's Stories and Fairy Tales, and some of the illustrations in the original, The Borrowers (shown here). Love the “sketchy” textural aspect to his work! 

4. A 20th century artist, and another legend. KAY NIELSEN's work was the inspiration for the original Disney's Sleeping Beauty. If you re-watch it today, you will notice the linear aspect that none of the other early animated features conveyed. Nielsen had a knack for fairy tales, and you can find his work in the original Little Mermaid and other fairy tales. 

FINLAND: 
5. We love the deliberate silliness in Tov Jansson's work. Another, slightly lesser-known artist from your childhood, TOVE JANSSON, was a Finland-native responsible for the wildly popular The Moomins. Jansson also dabbled in comic strips and wrote all of her Moomins books, as well as illustrated them. Shown here: Finn Family Moomintroll

6. And how could we mention Finland without including one of our own, dear ANNA EMILIA LAITINEN. Born in Leppävirta, a small town in Finland, she is a rising star as not only a Scandinavian illustrator, but a designer and artist as well. Check out her brand new book, Casa Di FiabaHERE

Who are your favorite Scandinavian illustrators? 

Photos as linked above