Where's Mommy? (Mary and the Mouse)

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The very first book I reviewed on this blog (and I use "reviewed" loosely; perhaps better to say "mentioned") was Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary by Beverly Donofrio, illustrated by Barbara McClintock (Schwartz and Wade, 2007). So I was naturally curious about the companion book Where's Mommy?, which is out now, and am happy to report that it is just as charming as the original. It has the same parallel structure, too, picking up with Maria and Mouse Mouse at bedtime one summer evening, when they discover that their mothers (the original Mary and the Mouse) are missing. Separate searches lead them to the garden shed, and a surprise that readers of Mary and the Mouse will already suspect.

I wish I had larger images of McClintock's detailed illustrations, rendered in pen-and-ink, watercolor, and gouache, to share (see them at Schwartz and Wade's Where's Mommy? flickr set). The book takes place entirely in and around (and under) Maria's family's contemporary ranch house, all glass brick and stone--a perfect fit for the long horizontals of the double-page spreads. My favorite image is of the living room (it's in the flickr set)--besides the bookcase, which is ample, I especially like the painting on the wall: it's a reproduction of Goya's portrait of Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga, with three cats (at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). The mouse family living below gets a print of Hunca Munca from Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Two Bad Mice.

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[Barbara McClintock is one of my favorite illustrators. Does anyone know whatever happened to Adele and Simon in China? It was supposed to come out Fall 2011.]

Best Horn Book Cover Ever?

My long-awaited copy of the January/February 2012 issue of The Horn Book arrived today and it is gorgeous.  The cover illustration is by Salley Mavor, who illustrated the 2011 Boston Globe-Horn Book picture book award winner, Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; link is to my review). You can see and read more about the process of making the cover illustration (I love the way she renders the Horn Book logo in particular. Also the little girl dressed as a lamb) and enter a poster giveaway on Salley's blog, or just order your poster directly from The Horn Book.

I've been a Horn Book subscriber for two years now (the inside of the magazine is just as good). Other favorite covers are Marla Frazee's hollow tree (May/June 2011), which also appears in her illustrations for the picture book Stars by Mary Lyn Ray (Beach Lane Books, 2011); and Anita Lobel's guardian angel (November/December 2010).

Which are your favorites? [There are lots more to choose from in the Horn Book Magazine's gallery of covers, too.]

Yoko's Show-and-Tell

Yoko, an adorable Japanese-American kitten, is starring in her fourth picture book by Rosemary Wells, Yoko's Show-and-Tell (Hyperion, 2011).  In this one, Yoko's grandparents in Japan send her an antique doll for Girls' Day.  Yoko's mother says ("in her Big No voice") that Yoko may not take Miki to school for show-and-tell, but Yoko can't resist: "Everyone in my class will love you!" she said to Miki. "I will bring you right home, and Mama will never know!"

Well.  Miki ends up significantly worse for the wear after the Franks toss her around the school bus--she doesn't even make it to show-and-tell--and Yoko has to confess to her mother ("Do you still love me?"). They rush Miki to Dr. Kiroshura's Doll Hospital, and she's good as new by the time Obaasan and Ojiisan arrive for their springtime visit from Japan: "Obaasan admired Miki's new kimono. "She is so beautiful. And not one scratch after all these years!"

Yoko's Show-and-Tell is a quiet and lovely little book, just 9" square. It's economically told and always attuned to Yoko's feelings, which will be painfully familiar to anyone who has ever done something against her (or her mother's) better judgment.  I do think it could have ended with Obaasan's comment above; we don't really need to see the consequences for the Franks, only for Yoko.

Yoko herself is an exceptionally expressive kitten. Wells's illustrations combine ink-and-watercolor with patterned paper collage in small square panels, one to a page; the endpapers, featuring Miki in a variety of kimonos, are especially cheerful and cute. Look for this one if you, like me, love Yoko's Paper Cranes (2001) and traditional Japanese art and culture. Just in time for Girls' Day on March 3!

Pocketful of Posies

Maybe the skill and artistry of Salley Mavor's hand-stitched, sewn, and collaged illustrations for Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes (Houghton Mifflin, 2010) are best appreciated by other needleworkers, but their appeal is so much greater than that--after all, Pocketful of Posies is a Horn Book Fanfare Best Book of 2010 and an ALA Notable for Younger Readers.  I hope it received serious consideration for the Caldecott, too.  At our house, every page has been pored over and marveled at multiple times, and it's inspired lots of reading and singing, collecting and making.

My favorite are the double-page spreads, which often illustrate several nursery rhymes in a single scene.  The one below includes Humpty Dumpty (an actual egg!), Peter Piper, and Two Little Blackbirds.  It's dfficult to appreciate the richness of the color, the depth and detail of the original in this image; nothing I've found on the internet comes close to the photographic quality of the printed book.

Or, of course, the real thing: the original illustrations from Pocketful of Posies, with new embroidered felt borders and shadowbox frames made by Salley's husband, are being exhibited in a traveling show.  At this point, most of the locations are in New England.  [Charlotte, please go on my behalf.]

Fortunately, there is plenty of information about Mavor's process available online: this interview with Salley at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast is a good place to start.  And if you'd like to make little dolls like these, Mavor's Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects (C&T, 2003) is a great resource.  There's even a section of Projects for Children to Make.  Also for those of us who still struggle with the French knot.