Prather's Pick: 2 charming picture books

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This week’s column features two new picture books for children. The books can be found in the children’s room at the Moffat County Library.

“Friends,” the first book, was written and illustrated by Eric Carle, a well-known and popular author of books for young children. He also has authored and illustrated such books as “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse.” In addition, he has illustrated other books, which include “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” and “Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?” written by Bill Martin Jr.

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Diane Prather

It is easy to spot books illustrated by Carle because they are done with painted tissue paper collage.

The main characters of “Friends” are a boy and girl who do everything together. They play, run, dance and tell secrets. But then one day, the girl moves away. The boy misses her. He knows he must find her so he counts to 10. As he counts on his fingers, the reader can count the colorful numbers on the next page.

After he counts to 10, the boy jumps into a swift and cold river. He climbs a mountain, strolls through a meadow, gets rained on, and even finds himself in the woods. When he comes out of the forest … well, there’s a surprise in store for the reader.

This is yet another Eric Carle book to be enjoyed and remembered by young readers. It is published by Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Group 2013. It costs $17 in hardcover.

The second of this column’s featured books is “Once Upon a Memory,” written by Nina Laden and illustrated by Renata Liwska. According to the brief biographies on the book jacket, Laden “lives in Seattle and on Lummi Island, Washington, but mostly she lives in her imagination.” Liwska, originally from Warsaw, Poland, creates illustrations that are “influenced by memories from her childhood.”

The book’s illustrations, done mostly in hues of browns and grays, have a softness about them. In “About the Book” on the credit page, there’s an explanation as to the artwork. It first was sketched in a journal and then scanned and colored in Adobe Photoshop. The young boy and animals featured in the book are absolutely adorable.

The book begins on the inside cover and credit page with the drawing of a feather. When the page is turned, the feather is there, too, as it floats through a window. It is a playroom. A young boy sits on the floor in front of a table set for tea. The boy holds a small toy dinosaur in one hand. In the other hand, he holds a cookie — or perhaps a cracker — which he offers to a white dog sitting beside him.

Sitting around the table, quite well mannered, are a raccoon, dinosaur (perhaps an alligator), fox, bear and beaver. The beaver sits in a fire engine cart. He wears a fireman hat. There’s also a wind-up mouse in the room and a red ball that has rolled into the corner by a chair. (The ball appears later on in other illustrations.)

The reader goes on a journey with the young boy as the boy wonders whether the feather will remember that it once was a bird and whether a chair will remember that it once was a tree and so forth. For each two-page spread, the boy is pictured on one page with the first part of a remembering question and the last part of the question on the second page with an illustration of how it once was.

For example, the boy watches a mama duck with three babies following closely behind, and he wonders, “Does a family remember it once was … two?” The word “two” appears on the next page along with an endearing illustration of a Mallard duck pair building a nest. The male wears a carpenter’s belt, and there’s a carpenter’s ruler on the ground. The two are connecting vines to make the nest. An egg is to one side, all ready for the nest. In the background, a beaver pair is taking a branch to their home-to-be. The ending to this beautiful book is very special.

“Once Upon a Memory” is published by Little, Brown and Co. 2013. It costs $17 in hardcover.

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