When I was at the public library a few days ago, looking for recent winners of American Library Association Youth Media awards, I spotted a few books on display that looked interesting, that I was pretty sure we didn't have in the children's literature collection I manage at the university. So I checked them out:
Musicians of the Sun is similar to many of Caldecott Medalist and honoree Gerald McDermott's other traditional literature books. Like The Princess and the Warrior by Duncan Tonatiuh, this book also retells Axtec folklore. The Lord of the Night (the Aztec god Tezcatlipoca), sends the Wind god (Ehecatl) to bring the prisoners of the Sun god (Tonatiuh, interestingly enough) - four musicians named Red, Yellow, Blue, and Green, to the "gray and joyless," dark and silent earth. In his author's note, McDermott said "the story became for me a metaphor for the author's journey," and that the illustrations are "in acrylic fabric paint, opaque ink, and oil pastel on paper handmade in Mexico."
Matisse's Garden, written by Samantha Friedman and illustrated by Cristina Amodeo, was published by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City in 2014 to accompany an exhibition of the "cut-out" works from the last decade of the life of Henri Matisse. The artist found it difficult to paint or sculpt after surgery for abdominal cancer (although this is not discussed in the book), and took up his scissors to make cut-paper collages, often on an immense scale. Author Friedman was an assistant curator at MoMA and co-organizer of the exhibition, while Amodeo is an Italian designer. I particularly liked the way the way the latter built in references to Matisse's other work (such as Dance) in her cut-paper illustrations. The book features eight reproductions of Matisse's cut-paper works, some on fold-out pages to better fit the scale of some of these large works. More details about Matisse's life and these works are in an endnote.
Ada Twist, Scientist, is the third book in a series written by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, that promote STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) careers. Told in rhyme, Ada Twist is a little girl who starts out quiet and observing, but once she turns three, the questions - mostly "Why?" - flow. The fact that Ada is a female of color (and has puzzled but supportive parents) is even better for encouraging all young children to question and hypothesize and persevere. The illustrations use watercolors, pen, ink, and pencil, sometimes on - appropriately - graph paper of different types.
© Amanda Pape - 2017
[These books were borrowed from and returned to my local public library.]