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 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!

scandinavianpart1.jpg

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