december 2011
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A World of Opposites In Dots

By Jules



Here's another quick post before breakfast about a 2011 title that caught my eye, yet I never quite got around to posting about it last year.

Anyone else out there see Patricia Intriago's Dot? It was released by Margaret Ferguson Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux in August. This is Intriago's first picture book; she's the principal of Intriago Design.

3But before you dismiss it as one for just graphic designers--as you can see from the art here, these are minimal and very simple shapes, along with a bit of photography thrown in as a surprise for readers (not pictured in this post)--I'll point out the smart thing Lane Smith said about this book. (It's not like we chatted about it, but he provides a back-of-the-book blurb.) He points out what he calls the subtle and clever text and notes that "[c]lassic Ruth Krauss comes to mind" when he reads it. He makes a good point here.

Using a simple dot (and starting out with the bright yellow one seen on the cover), Intriago explores the world of opposites in this concept book--"Stop dot," "Go dot," "Slow dot," "Fast dot"--playing cleverly with size, shape, color, and composition. "On a purely artistic level," wrote the Horn Book review, "it's all about perception, how we can see the same thing differently depending on context and composition. Intriago's accompanying text helps us share her vision, but it also serves to keep us a little off-center, as she offers a few predictable rhymes but avoids others."

The book is also loosely framed by the construct of a day, given that she opens with what looks like a sun and close with "Dots up in the sky so bright twinkle as we say good night."

I like this one. It's smart and elegant and gives space for the youngest of readers to think. Here are some more spreads. Enjoy.


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DOT. Copyright (c) 2011 Patricia Intriago. Published by Farrar Straus Giroux, New York. Images reproduced by permission of the publisher.

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Say What? Joey Chou and Angela DiTerlizzi

"When a bird says TWEET, does he really mean SWEET?"
(Click to enlarge spread)

Last Fall, I did a small handful of posts in which I highlighted some new picture books for the wee'est of readers, and I never quite finished. One of those books (and more are to come, as I will get to them, even if in 2012), another book geared toward your toddler-sized readers, is Angela DiTerlizzi's Say What?,  illustrated by Joey Chou and released by Beach Lane Books in July of 2011.

The illustrations Joey shares today give you a good sense of the book, which ends with a wee human child, telling his mother how much he loves her. This is always good for toddlers. (In fact, I envision this book as becoming a board book one day. Hey, good idea. Should I call the editor? "Jules WHO?" Seriously, I hope they consider it. It'd work.) This one is also good for, as the Kirkus reviewer noted, preschoolers who enjoy language play.

The book's back-flap bio for Joey-an alumni and graduate of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, who was born in Taiwan but now lives in Los Angeles-indicates that he likes to draw furry monsters. Go see his site, and that's clear by the welcoming illustration there, which I like and which makes me laugh.

Angela, who visited me in 2009 for breakfast, is here this morning to say a bit about the book, and I thank her for stopping by...

* * *

Angela: "Having a young child is a constant source of inspiration for any parent. But for me, as an author of books for children, in those everyday moments, anecdotes, and experiences, I can't help but find seeds for new book ideas.

"The seed for my picture book Say What? was no exception.

"11I wrote Say What? when our daughter, Sophia, was just under a year old, and my days were happily filled with reading aloud books by Dr. Seuss, Margaret Wise Brown, Eric Carle, and Ruth Krauss--and Mary Blair's retro masterpiece, I Can Fly. I love the repetition, rhyme, and their simple, yet stylized, illustrations.

"At the same time, our little one was busily learning about cows, roosters, kitties, and the noises they make. I wondered, what are animals really saying with their everyday sounds? And, can animals understand their babies MOOs and BAAs like parents differentiate between their baby's GOOs and GAAs? While rocking Sophia in the nursery one early morning, I heard a horse whinny from the farm behind our Massachusetts home. I thought to myself, when a horse says NEIGH, does she really mean HAY?

"Then I began to write.

"I shared the manuscript with my husband, Tony, and he encouraged me to show it to his editors at Simon & Schuster. Much to my delight, they loved the concept and passed the story along to Allyn Johnston and Andrea Welch, the amazingly talented duo of editors at Beach Lane Books.

"When a cow says MOO, does she really mean WHO?"
(Click to enlarge)

"Enter the ubertalented illustrator Joey Chou. A designer/friend/agent shared his work with me, and we thought it was the perfect fit. His crisp, colorful illustrations and perfectly anthropomorphized animals were exactly the style of artwork I was hoping would be paired with my text.

"When a horse says NEIGH, does she really mean HAY?"
(Click to enlarge)

"From the manuscript's earliest stages, I have had the wonderful and enlightening experience of reading Say What? aloud to children in libraries and classrooms, including our daughter's preschool class. I am always delighted to hear kids anticipating the rhyme, giggling at the illustrations, and hollering out their best animal impersonations. Indeed, when writing, I strive to create an interactive and engaging experience for readers to share and enjoy - and to encourage reading and a love of words from the earliest of ages. With Say What?, I hope I've done just that."

Thanks again to Angela for visiting. Here's an October 2011 interview with a Massachusetts publication, and here are a couple more spreads. Enjoy.

"When a sheep says BAA, does he really mean MA?"
(Click to enlarge)

"When a duck says QUACK, does he really mean SNACK?"
(Click to enlarge)

SAY WHAT? Copyright (c) 2011 Angela DiTerlizzi. Illustrations copyright (c) 2011 Joey Chou. Published by Beach Lane Books, New York. Images reproduced by permission of Joey Chou.

julesThis and many more of Jules's adventures in books, kids' lit and illustration can be found at the Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast blog. Visit often. You will be rewarded for doing so.




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