Montreal·BOOKS

Brilliantly painted picture books

Here are six new stories braced by powerful illustrations, woven together with glittering words.

The stories in these 6 news books come to life with their compelling illustrations

Readers are in for a treat, thanks to the tones and palettes on the colourful pages of these books, says book columnist Angus P Byers. (Angus P Byers)

If a picture is worth a thousand words, picture books contain stories far more in depth than their slim spines imply.

Here are six new stories braced by powerful illustrations, woven together with glittering words.

The Feather, written by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Freya Blackwood

(Angus P Byers)

Two children find a gigantic blue-white feather that's tumbled from the sky. As the townsfolk argue about the best way to preserve the feather for posterity, it's sheen begins to fade. Now dull, the villagers shoo the children and the pinion away.

Can they restore it's light or is it too late?

Blackwood's sketchy lines and delicate washes play a wonderful game of push and pull, luminous highlights contrasting with earthy mid tones. A perfect metaphorical pairing with Wild's words about whether it is better to try and hold onto beauty or let it be free.

Your Turn, Adrian, written by Helena Öberg, illustrated by Kristin Lidström

(Angus P Byers)

Adrian struggles in school, trying to learn how to read and how to make friends. Finding a stray dog, Heidi, his confidence is bolstered and the words on the page start to make sense!

Lidström alternates between heavy, carved in pencil and bold, blazing paint as Öberg takes us back to those days when things that seem simple to everyone are Herculean for you. They help us remember what it's like to be vulnerable, and how much strength can come from a friend.

Sea Glass Summer, written by Michelle Houts, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

(Angus P Byers)

Spending the summer at his grandmother's cottage, Thomas finds pieces of sea glass. Laying them on his nightstand, he dreams about their history, revealing their long forgotten tales.

The tone and palette of Ibatoulline's water colours shift from real world to monochrome dreamscape, alluding to old newspaper photos. Perfect for everyone who finds treasure in the sand.

Camp Tiger, written by Susan Choi, illustrated by John Rocco

(Angus P Byers)

Right before the summer ends, a boy and his family goes camping in the mountains. As they set up the tents, a talking tiger walks out from the woods. Bonding immediately, they enjoy the final days before grade school starts and responsibility begins.

Illustrated with a full complement of materials and techniques, Rocco's art never gets muddy or over-mixed.

It takes a masterful hand to know when to focus in on details or to leave most of the page

blank, and here we are treated to a perfect example of that.

Max Attacks, written by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by Penelope Dullaghan

(Angus P Byers)

A blue tabby, Max, wants nothing more than to dine on the fish that swim in the living room's bowl.

However, each time he readies himself to lunge, something else needs attacking!

Painted with the intensity of a cat running down a hallway at 4 a.m., Dullaghan's heavy impasto strokes are playful and fun, an ideal match for Appelt's hysterically words! For cat lovers and cat tolerators alike.

The Not-So Great Outdoors, written and illustrated by Madeline Kloepper

(Angus P Byers)

A young girl is NOT enthused about heading out of the city to go camping for the summer. She wonders how can the wilderness possibly compare to the sights and sounds of downtown? Until they do!

The purposely childlike approach to Kloepper's paintings belie a deep understanding of narrative painting, her words hand in hand with the image's intent. If you can remember not wanting to go on vacation, this story will speak true to you.

About the Author

Angus P Byers

CBC Homerun Book Columnist

Angus P Byers is a bookseller at Livres Babar Books, an illustrator and a tattoo artist. You can find him on Instagram @angustattoos. You can also hear Angus on Homerun, on CBC Radio One (88.5 FM), once a month on Wednesday afternoons starting at 3 p.m.

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