Hugest, warmest welcome to Frances Tosdevin whose book – The Bear and Her Book – illustrated by Sophia O’Connor, is hitting the shelves.
The Bear and Her Book is utterly delightful. Thoughtful, warm and wonderfully mesmerising – it’s filled with joy. An absolute treat.
I’m jumping up and down with excitement to be inviting Frances into MyBookCorner, to talk about my absolutely favourite topic ever… books about books! Yippeee!
Picture books about…books!
Thank you for inviting me to chat with you, and I hope that you have enjoyed reading THE BEAR AND HER BOOK, written by me and illustrated by Sophia O’Connor. As you can imagine, picture books that celebrate books are high on my list of must-have reads. In fact, I have 13 of them on my book shelves! So let’s dive in and look at some of these, and what makes them special.
First of all, I love meta picture books that play with the form of the book itself, often creating something wonderfully original. An early example of this is Open Very Carefully by Nick Bromley and Nicola O’Byrne. This has a crocodile lurking inside the pages, and cut outs where he has — eek— escaped from the book! Another example is It’s a Book by Lane Smith. Perfect for any parent who is keen to encourage a love of reading over pressing but-tons on devices, It’s a Book is a hilarious story about a monkey who is engrossed in his book, only to be constantly disturbed by another character asking whether the book can text, Tweet, or needs Wi-fi, etc — much to the monkey’s frustration! A fun one for reading aloud is The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak. Fun for children, that is — grown-ups, be warned that you will have to read all sorts of increasingly silly things in increasingly silly ways — much to your child’s delight! My final choice for meta picture books is This Book Can Read Your Mind by Susannah Lloyd and Jacob Grant. This works on the clever premise that if you tell someone NOT to think about something, they will not be able to stop themselves thinking about it! So the child reader becomes the unwitting catalyst for the crazy chaos that builds spectacularly throughout the book — oh, and the book even ‘explodes’ at the end!
Bridging the gap between meta books and picture books about books, is Not Just a Book by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross. This starts off by describing some funny, non-reading uses for books — such as a hat, a tent for a cat or even a flower press— but finally proclaims that books “can make you laugh and weep,” and that “they stay with you forever”.
A particularly famous picture book about books is The Incredible Book-Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers, about a boy who literally eats books, becoming cleverer with each tome consumed. Until it all goes horribly wrong… Baxter’s Book by Hrefna Bragadottir is a charming story about a creature who auditions to be in a book, but is sure he hasn’t got what it takes — only to find that there is indeed a book all about him! What a wonderful message of inclusion!
I Don’t Like Books. Never. Ever. The End. by Emma Perry and Sharon Davey is a brilliant story about non-reader Mabel’s journey from book-phobe to book-lover. Emma then followed this with another book about books — the hilarious This Book Has Alpacas and Bears, illustrated by Rikin Parekh. Finally, I’d like to mention the fabulous Finney’s Story, written by Alana Washington and illustrated by Charlotte Caswell. As you may know, this book follows UCLan Publishing’s mascot, Finney the Fox, as he sets out to write a story — but then discovers that all the good ideas have already been taken…something that will resonate with picture book writers everywhere!