April 25, 2013
My world is jammed-packed with visuals and messaging and positioning documents, but there is no greater visual stimulation than a choice selection of picturebooks.
I started collecting picturebooks long before I became a mama. They have this magical quality of speaking to young hearts with expressive simplicity, but also engaging grown-up minds with subtle reflections on what it means to be human.
Such is the case of “Little Bird” by Swiss author-illustrator duo Germano Zullo and Albertine, published by the wonderful Enchanted Lion Books. Illustrated in Albertine’s signature style of soft, colorful minimalism, this little gem is like a beautiful silent film, only in vibrant hues and on paper.
It tells the tender story of a big-hearted man who halts his truck at a cliff’s edge. Unable to go any further, he opens the back door of his truck and a flock of birds spills out into the air, leaving behind a tiny, timid black bird. Surprised and delighted by the little loyalist, the man befriends the bird.
The humorous situation deepens the tenderness between the two creatures and soon the bird departs, the man drives away, and the story seems to end — but! — just as the truck trails off into the distance, we see the little black bird come back after it, followed by his colorful friends in a lyrical moment of belonging lost and found. “The small things are treasures,” writes Zullo. “True treasures.”
There are no greater treasures than the little things.
The entire story unfolds with few words and primary colors, but mesmerizes with its evocative honesty and gentle sophistication, inviting readers of all ages to look again and again as we rediscover our inner child’s gift for finding infinite beauty and curiosity in the little things.
A lovely quote from an e. e. cummings poem graces the first page:
may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
“New Socks” by Bob Shea
Remember getting something new as a kid and feeling really, really excited? Multiply that times a millon. Make that a million jillion zillion, because these New Socks really are great! There is something so fundamentally good and fun about this book. I love it!
Saul Bass (1920-1996) is considered by many — myself included — the greatest graphic designer of all time, responsible for some of the most timeless logos and most memorable film title sequences of the twentieth century. In 1962, Bass collaborated with former librarian Leonore Klein on his only children’s book, which spent decades as a prized out-of-print collector’s item. This year, exactly half a century later, Rizzoli reprinted “Henri’s Walk to Paris” —- an absolute gem like only Bass can deliver, at once boldly minimalist and incredibly rich, telling the sweet, aspirational, colorful story of a boy who lives in rural France and dreams of going to Paris.
In his wonderful essay on Bass’s talent, Martin Scorsese observed, as if thinking of this book in particular: “Saul’s designs…speak so eloquently that they address all of us, no matter when, or where, you were born.”
I am inspired and grateful for these picturebooks just for kids*
* And designers, too.