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[Monday Reading] When Comic Creators Write Picturebooks (Part 2 of 2)

"One Cool Friend" by Toni Buzzeo and David Small | "My Best Friend" by Julie Fogliano and Jillian Tamaki.


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. 

Last week, I shared the first part of comic book creators writing picturebooks for children with Liz Climo and the Holms. To be fair, both Jillian Tamaki and David Small have been creating picturebooks for some time now. However, I do feel that their being comic book creators add a different layer to these two stories below – plus, hello comic mania until end of September 2020.

One Cool Friend [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Toni Buzzeo Illustrated by David Small
Published by Dial Books (2012)
ISBN: 0803734131 (ISBN13: 9780803734135). Literary Awards: Caldecott Medal Nominee (2013), Maine Literary Award for Children’s (2013), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2012). Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me. 

Elliott is a proper, formal, unfailingly polite old person trapped in a young boy’s body. When his father invited him to spend a “family fun day” at the aquarium, he was hesitant as he imagined crowds of squealing children with their horrifyingly-inappropriate behaviours, but Elliott was nothing but polite and so he said thank you for the invitation.

Little did Elliott know that the aquarium is where he would find his one cool friend. To be fair, Elliott did ask his father whether he could get a penguin, and he was given a 20-dollar bill for it by his newspaper-holding, forever-distracted but infinitely-jovial father.

I loved the build-up of the story as the reader wonders how the father would react when he finally discovers that Elliott had actually brought not a stuffed penguin, but a real one to their home. Over and above the exciting storyline, see how the artist, David Small, plays with perspective and angles as you can see in the image above.

This is a totally unpredictable, perfectly fun and engaging story that prim and proper young readers (with a hidden wildness within) will definitely enjoy.

My Best Friend [Amazon | Book Depository]

Written by Julie Fogliano Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2020) ISBN: 1534427228 (ISBN13: 9781534427228). Borrowed from Overdrive. Book photos taken by me. 

I have said previously that Julie Fogliano is the Mary Oliver in kidlit, and I stand by this observation yet again with her newest title, done in collaboration with the equally amazing Jillian Tamaki of This One Summer Caldecott Medal fame (Amazon | Book Depository).

In this story, a young girl describes her best friend in great detail. There is dynamism, unbridled glee, brilliant colours muted with warmth and comfort in Tamaki’s art that makes this a strong contender for another Caldecott. It perfectly complements Fogliano’s words that make me imagine the young girl living inside of me, so powerful it is that Fogliano seems to embody this earnest and guileless spirit.

It is not childlike simplicity, but something that goes beyond it; an empathy so complete that she speaks with the child’s soul.

The art completes the circle, elevating the entire book to a different reading experience that will make it a favourite read among young children, one that I predict they would want to be read aloud again and again. Fogliano and Tamaki must be aware that they have created something magical in this book. This is the making of a classic. Hands down, one of my favourite picturebook reads this year.

#ReadIntl2020 Update: Jillian Tamaki is a person of colour living in Canada.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

4 comments on “[Monday Reading] When Comic Creators Write Picturebooks (Part 2 of 2)

  1. lindabaie

    I’m looking forward to My Best Friend & thanks for One Cool Friend. I don’t think I ever read it! Hope all is going well with you & your family, Myra!


  2. My Best Friend looks simply lovely.


  3. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Community Service and Social Justice in Tamaki’s “Our Little Kitchen” – Gathering Books

  4. Pingback: [My 2020 in Books] Favourite Books Read in 2020 – Gathering Books

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