Monday, August 18, 2008

Illustration in Chapter Books

I recently realized that the two books I just reviewed (and loved) were both illustrated by Drazen Kozjan.  Coincidence?  I think not.  

I know that, although the writing in both books is completely wonderful and enchanting on its own, there is an added magic in the lively pen and ink drawings supplied by Mr. Kozjan.  I am partial to illustrators, being partnered with one myself, and I am drawn (pardon the pun!) to books with marvelous illustrations!

I picked up Judy Moody initially because of Peter H. Reynolds' endearing art and Clementine because of Marla Frazee.  And I remember many books from my childhood through the pictures: The Bad Times of Irma Baumlein with Trina Schart Hyman's almost gothic interpretation of this completely hilarious story (definitely a to-review!), Elizabeth Enright's perfectly illustrated Melendy books in her sparse but warm style, The Alley with Edward Ardizzone's wispy and active vignettes (this lovely painting is his), Beth and Joe Krush's detailed illustrations for Gone Away Lake, the list goes on and on!  In some books, the illustrations are my favorite part; Spiderwick Chronicles illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi is definitely an example of that.  

Any chapter books where the illustrations particularly captivated you?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Diary of a Fairy Godmother

I checked out this book after reading a review at one of my favorite blogs, Tweendom.  After I completed it, I felt almost giddy with enjoyment of this book so, despite the fact that there are several very wonderful reviews of this book out on the blogosphere, I had to add my own.

Diary of a Fairy Godmother is the journal of a young witch-in-training (barely one hundred years old!), Hunky Dory, who is at the top of the class in her charm school.  Her mother is so proud of her; she brags to anyone who will listen that her daughter "will be the wickedest witch wherever the four winds blow!"  Her aunt says that if she "were ever stupid enough to have a daughter, she'd want one exactly like [her]."  Her classmates admire her and her teacher considers her her teacher's pet.  There is only one very real problem: Hunky Dory enjoys granting wishes!  Could this mean Hunky Dory is destined to be a, gasp, Fairy Godmother?  

This book was all kinds of fun from the first page to the very end!  The fractured fairy tale has practically become its own genre but Esmé Raji Codell takes it to the next level with delightful attention to detail in making the witchy world so complete in its oppositeness.  I enjoyed the illustrations by Drazen Kosjan- they fit the spirit of the story perfectly.  I also loved how she seamlessly worked in other traditional fairy tales and added a fresh spin to them.  One of the best parts of the book were the quotes from the textbook of witches Be the One With the Wand; I'm tempted to copy some of them down onto sticky notes for inspiration.  I thought it was a wonderful touch that Ms. Codell included a reading list of other "Magical Must-Reads" in the back (Eleanor Estes' The Witch Family is in there, one of my personal favorites). 

I am definitely adding this book to my canon of "Magical Must-Reads!"