The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau
I absolutely love this story about self-taught artist Henri Rousseau. I admire his resolve to pursue his love of painting. His work garnered harsh criticism, yet he found the strength of heart to improve his craft and find success. True magic flowed from his paintbrush! Rousseau's paintings now have homes in prominent museums world-wide.
Amanda Hall's illustrations are captivating and colorful; Michele Markel's text deftly captures the soul of the man in an unforgettable story of determination. I was drawn to the book because I enjoy picture book bios that aptly balance depth of emotion and kid appeal. In this case, readers
not only understanding what it takes to reach goals and dreams, but a feeling of pride for someone who persists in their craft, and the sense they can do the same.
I so enjoyed Markel's book on Rousseau, I also picked up this story about young Clara Lemlich. Again, Markel's writing is the perfect blend of historical fact and soul that makes the character come alive in young hearts and minds. The book reminds all ages that anything one puts their mind to is possible. Melissa Sweet's (one of my absolute favorite illustrators!) illustrations are, as always, rich in detail with a splash of whimsy that makes you want to jump inside the page.
Flora and the Penguin
I can't get enough of Molly Idle's books! Tea Rex and Flora and the Flamingo made me a diehard Idle fan. Flora's icy escapades with her new-found penguin friend has visions of ice skating penguins swirling still through my head and heart. Looking forward to the May release of Flora and the Peacocks! Idle's simple yet masterful work is hard to equal. Her ability to convey depth of story through the smallest gesture or expression make her the kind of illustrator I want to grow up to be!