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[Monday Reading] Overlooked Fiction Picturebooks in 2017 That Deserve More Love

Overlooked Picturebooks in 2017


It's Monday! What Are You Reading

Myra here.

It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.

I know I must be like a broken record by now, but do consider joining our Literary Voyage Around the World Reading Challenge. Lots of book prizes to be won, like seriously. 

We have also launched our Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Bookshelf – which I invite you all to check out. Over 500 multicultural/ international picturebook titles for you to see.

Since we are featuring different kinds of love, I thought I might as well give some love to a few picturebooks that I feel may have been overlooked the previous year. If you haven’t had a chance to find these titles yet, now’s the time!

Adele In Sand Land

Written and Illustrated By: Claude Ponti Translated by: Skeeter Grant & Francoise Mouly
Published by: Toon Books, 2017
ISBN: 1943145164 (ISBN13: 9781943145164)Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

First, let me put a disclaimer on this one. This is not a picturebook for everyone. The art is strange with a dab of the psychedelic and the surreal. If you are into something like that, then this picturebook is for you.

This is not my first Toon book. The Argentinian artist Liniers also writes for Toon Books which, if I understand it correctly, is meant to be a comic book for young readers. In this story, Adele is taken to the park by her mother where she has the most amazing adventure.

While the park is depicted to be teeming with so many children, Adele plays on the sand on her own, and lo and behold, the sand takes a life of its own – and it’s named Sandy. That was the beginning of Adele’s psychedelic adventures involving sand dragons…

… furballs, angry kings reminiscent of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, cage birds ensconced in an ear…

… and quite a number more strangenesses. Whether Adele finds her way back to her mother, I shall leave for you to discover. I love how this book shows the infinite stretches of the imagination.

Questions Asked

Written By: Jostein Gaarder Illustrated by: Akin Düzakin Translated by: Don Bartlett
Published by: Elsewhere Editions, 2017
ISBN: 0914671669 (ISBN13: 9780914671664)Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

I learned about this picturebook through Adrienne Gear, and immediately hunted it down from our libraries. This is one perfect example of a sophisticated picturebook that tackles huge philosophical issues:

The size of this picturebook is much smaller than the standard one; it also has more pages, that it seems more like a vignette or an illustrated short story. The format can be seen above with the text usually found on the left hand page, and the image on the right hand side, and there’s your occasional full-spread art.

What I find to be thoroughly interesting in this book is that the visual narrative, while complementing the text, has its own independent storyline, with the thoughtful questions found on the text serving as some kind of musical background or a backdrop to the grief that this young man is clearly experiencing.

Gradually, the story emerges of this boy who may have lost someone very dear to him, a twin brother, who may have drowned in the same sea where this boy attempted to bury this hidden chest of sweet but painful memories.

This is a meditative, thoughtful story that can have multiple interpretations. I have my own “reading” of what happened to the boy, but I will not post any spoilers here, so you better find this one in your library/bookstore soonest. This is a powerful book on bereavement, dealing with loss, and ruminations on life’s ultimate meaning in the face of a staggering loss that seems all-encompassing.

If I Had A Little Dream

Written By: Nina Laden Illustrated by: Melissa Castrillon
Published by: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017
ISBN: 1481439243 (ISBN13: 9781481439244)Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

From quiet depression, we move to this picturebook filled with dream-like light, decorative wishes, and curlicued hopes that convey love and comfort:

While I don’t usually go for rhyming text, there is something about this book that moved me – it could be the nested lush of the illustrations that seem to fit the reader snugly like a glove:

… or simply the child’s naming things around her to signify wonder, wings, and happiness:

This is a classic example of a picturebook that is deceptively simple, but never simplistic nor trite – sweet but not overly saccharine, just true: a quiet dream of all things light, wondrous, and beautiful.

Professional Crocodile

Written By: Giovanna Zoboli Illustrated by: Mariachiara Di Giorgio
Published by: Chronicle Books, 2017
ISBN: 1452167001 (ISBN13: 9781452167008)Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

So I learned about this picturebook through Carrie Gelson of There Is A Book For That. I was so taken by the book cover that I immediately borrowed it from our library. The story shows a day in the life of a professional crocodile, beginning from the moment he falls asleep and wakes up in the morning:

This is a brilliantly conceived wordless picturebook that invites the reader to suspend disbelief – as animals seem to be anthropomorphized and interact pretty well with human beings as if they were sentient beings too who do their constitutional in the morning, brush their teeth, buy flowers, and take the public transport:

In the absence of words, there are so many tiny, intricate details that a reader can pore over for hours – see the image above with the dog wearing eyeglasses. In fact, this Professional Crocodile even struck me as being the perfect gentleman as he gave up his seat in the crowded train to an elderly woman:

Each drawing is suffused with careful detail that begs to be considered more thoughtfully, and this aerial view (see below) just made me gasp aloud:

The play in perspectives is astounding (there are even images which I find to resemble that of a fish-eye lens kind of perspective), and the twist in the end ingeniously executed with just the perfect build-up and tempo and vibe throughout the visual narrative. This book deserves more love than its getting. Find it and read – then read all over again, as the story evolves and deepens with each reading.

#LitWorld2018GB Update: US/UK (Author of If I Had A Little Dream was born in the US, while the illustrator is from the UK), France (Author/Illustrator of Adele In Sand Land is from France); Italy (Author and Illustrator of Professional Crocodile), Norway (Jostein Gaarder is Norwegian and Questions Asked was originally published in Norwegian, then translated into English.) – 15 of 40

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14 comments on “[Monday Reading] Overlooked Fiction Picturebooks in 2017 That Deserve More Love

  1. Adele in Sand Land looks neat, I love that it gets a little weird maybe but it looks like it takes the reader on a wonderful adventure. Thanks for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with your thoughts on Professional Crocodile. Each time I read it, I noticed new things in the illustrations. The ending was a surprise!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sad to say that my library does not have Professional Crocodile. I’ll look for it. It also does not have Questions Asked, though I have read Sophie’s World by Gaarder. I’ll find them I hope! I enjoyed If I Had A Little Dream very much! Thanks, Myra!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have put in a request for Questions Asked.
    I adored Professional Crocodile! It really is a book to ponder over again and again. There is so much going on. And that ending!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Both Adele In Sand Land and Questions Asked look very intriguing to me! I love it when pictures tell a story and I’m okay with it getting weird. My kids like to think outside the box and figure these things out. And Questions Asked looks deep. I would love to get my hands on that one, too. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great reviews here. And what a clever meme you have created with reading around the world. Love the buttons/gifs to be used.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That first book is weird. It’s like Dr. Seuss meets Salvador Dali. The other ones are beautiful!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sarah Sammis

    I’ve put all these books on my wishlist, and requested all but Professional Crocodile from my library. That last one will take an interlibrary loan. Come see what I’m reading

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I always look forward to finding all of the new-to-me picture books on your list! It’s fun to try different books, even if they aren’t ones I typically read. That’s how we expand our horizons. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Professional Crocodile is one book I kept seeing on blogs but have yet to read. You have convinced me!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. These were all new to me–thank you for sharing 🙂

    Happy reading this week!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. If I remember correctly, If I Had a Little Dream was dedicated to a fellow book blogger so that book is quite special to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So pleased you liked Professional Crocodile! It is pretty amazing isn’t it? Like everyone, it kind of blew me away!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Pingback: [DiverseKidLit] “Self-Constructed” Narratives and Voices of Refugees in Recent Picturebooks – Gathering Books

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