What came first, the chicken or the egg? In the case of The Fantastic Book of Mr. Morris Lessmore, I’m pretty sure it was the movie, not the book. 🙂 According to the author information on the flyleaf, William Joyce had this book in the works for years before it came to fruition, and from it came an Academy Award-winning short animated film and a story app before the book was ever finally even published. We met Morris Lessmore first through the book and then through the movie, but either way, it’s a wonderful romp which any booklover will appreciate. It’s the story of the eponymous Morris, a true blue booklover who finds “an extraordinary building where many books apparently ‘nested'” after his orderly world is devastated by a rogueish wind. Morris stays in this magical place, caring for and enjoying the books, until the time is right for him to move on and he is replaced as the caretaker by a young girl who then reads his story which he had quietly been writing throughout the book. Joe Bluhm’s are rich, old-fashioned, and evocative of the spirit of the story. It’s a fantastical and wistful tale that created a lump in my throat for no specific reason, other than I, like Morris Lessmore, consider books my friends. We at the House of Hope give the book and the movie a Highly Recommended. (Atheneum, 2012)
The husband-wife dynamic duo of Phillip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead are back! Yippee! This year’s book, Bear Has a Story to Tell, is just as sweet and gently humorous as their last co-creation, the Caldecott-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee. In their new story, poor Bear has a story he wants to share with his friends, but alas, they’re all too busy getting ready for the winter to stop and listen: Mouse has seeds to collect, Duck is headed south, Frog is looking for his winter hole-in-the-ground, and Mole is already asleep. Bear, being the good friend that he is, helps all his friends make their preparations, and then he, too, beds down for the winter. Spring arrives, and Bear, still eager to tell his story, sets out to find his friends. The trouble is, he can’t remember his story. However, with a little help from his friends, the story is completed. This is such a gentle, sweet story about friendship and the seasons. I love it, and I love Erin C. Stead’s artwork, too. (You can take a look at the Steads’ studio and how Erin creates her art here.) I think this one will hand around for a long, long time, and I give it a Highly Recommended. (Roaring Brook Press, 2012)
My mother tells me that the first thing I ever said I wanted to be when I grow up is a cook. She assured me that I most likely would be ( 😉 ), and she’s right. Besides the fact that I come from a line of women who enjoy creating in the kitchen, I like to think I got my early ambition from my exposure to Julia Child via PBS. It follows, then, that it was a lot of fun for me to read the book Minette’s Feast by Susanna Reich to my girls and learn a bit more about Julia Child through this story about her cat, Minette. The story follows the Childs from their early days in Paris when they acquire Minette, a very finicky cat who prefers mouse and bird over any of the delicacies Julia concocts. Amy Bates’ gorgeous pencil and watercolor illustrations capture the feel of Paris and the spirit of the joyful Julia Child beautifully. An Afterword provides the factual details behind the fictional story. A bonus for us after reading this lovely story is that we watched some Julia Child video clips together and I shared the story with my girls of how I wanted to be a “cook” when I grew up. Another Highly Recommended title. (Atheneum, 2012)
All three of these books have been nominated in the Fiction Picture Books category of the Cybils, and I won’t be a bit surprised if any (or all!) of the three are shortlisted, or if they go on to win other awards. They’re that good.
Since next Thursday is Thanksgiving, there will be no Read Aloud Thursday. Enjoy the day with your family!