Who Needs Donuts?

Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty By Mark Alan Stamaty

Published 1973 by Dial Press, reprinted 2003 by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books.

At first glance, the answer to this book’s title is pretty clear. Because, everybody. Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty But do you know this book? When I mention it to someone, I either hear about their favorite jelly donut (the one with strawberry), or they lose their sprinkles over the magnificence of this screwy tale.

The simplicity of the setup:

Sam lived with his family in a nice house.

He had a big yard and lots of friends.

But he wanted donuts, not just a few but hundreds and thousands and millions — more donuts than his mother and father could ever buy him.

Finally one day he hopped on his tricycle and rode away to a big city to look for donuts.

The scattered spectacle of the scene, a commotion in black and white. On those initial pages alone:

A bird in swim trunks

A roof-mowing man

A chimney blowing ribbons

A man in the window reading a newspaper with the headline, Person Opens Picture Book Tries to Read the Fineprint

Two donuts

And a cinematic, get-ready-for-your-close-up page turn. (Be sure to look closely in the blades of grass.) Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty There’s almost a calm in the chaos. It’s regular and rhythmic and pandemonium and patterned all at once. Perfect for a story that’s a little bit bonkers and a whole lot of comfort.

So. Then what? Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty The relative calm of Sam’s neighborhood yields to an even madder and mayhem-ier sight.

Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty Then Mr. Bikferd and his wagon of donuts shows up.

And a Sad Old Woman. And Pretzel Annie.

Sam continues to collect donuts. Stocks and piles of donuts. Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty A wagon breaks. A repairman helps. A love story. Abandonment.

(A fried orange vendor. A bathing zebra. Rollerskates. A Sad Old Woman.)

Who needs donuts when you’ve got love? Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Allen Stamaty When Sam rides home, the words that began his story are on the sidewalk. I get the shivers about that.

The starts of stories are carved in concrete.

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P.S. – These pictures remind me a little of what I’m seeing for Steve Light’s new book, Have You Seen My Dragon? Check out this review where Betsy Bird notices the same, and this post at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, because it’s always a treat. I also think of the hours I’d spend as a kid studying each square centimeter of The Ultimate Alphabet. Like Waldo, but weirder.

Sweet and Shorts: Sassy Board Books {giveaway!}

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illustrated by Dave Aikins

{published 2013, by Grosset & Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Books for Young Readers}

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Here’s a fabulous Friday celebration! If you have little ones, you might be familiar with Sassy toys. They are designed to foster learning and engage the growing brain of our teensiest family members. And they are adorable!

So just look how spectacular their first leap into books is! This bundle of four is bright and begs to be touched (and gnawed on.) Beyond these eye-grabbing covers, the insides are a stunning display of rhythm, repetition, and pattern. Perfect for high-contrast-loving little brains!

This set debuts at the end of this month, but thanks to the kind tuxedoes at Penguin Young Readers Group, I have TWO sets of these board books for YOU! Sneak peek and nanny-nanny-boo-boo to the rest of the moms on the block. (Just kidding about that last part. But seriously, these are super books.)

To enter, just leave a comment on this post before midnight on Thursday, August 29th. Good luck!

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Pinwheel

{published 2013, by LB Kids/Little Brown Books for Young Readers}

Remember Salina Yoon and her heart-tangle-upper Penguin and Pinecone? Well, she’s back in a big way this week. Tomorrow, April 16th, she has two brand new books out in the world, and trust me: they are spectacular. Penguin’s back in a new adventure, Penguin on Vacation. He’s sick of all the snowy cold, and sets off on a beach adventure. Don’t miss it!

And then there’s this one. I got a sneak peek of Pinwheel and let me show you this thing!

Die cut cover, in the shape of a pinwheel. A hint at the ingenious things to come!

What you might not know about Salina is that she is a master of novelty board books. The engineering to make these books tactile and animated on top of just utter gorgeousness? Her brain. Her artistry. Brilliant.

Pinwheel’s pages have a dial on the edge of the page. Those bright triangles lead you in a twirling direction, and when you do, the magic happens. On this particular page, those scales shimmer and change colors as if you were under the sea with them, swimming into a different beam of light with each flick of your tail.

So here, the train’s lights alert you to its journey. And see her words? Simple, lyrical, and beautiful.

But then. Just when you think you understand how this book works, this happens. A carousel horse! Pops his head out of the page and bobs up and down, up and down, up and down – until you are ready to turn the page …

…where there’s a kite dancing in the wind. Of course there is!

Pinwheel is a knockout. {And no, I didn’t really mean that to be a die-cut pun, but hey why not?! It’s kinda a good one!}

Its design is the story. Pinwheel asks you to interact, discover, and enjoy – and it’s a pleasure from the first spin to the last.

And if you are like me, and can’t get enough of this little treat, check out Salina’s Kaleidoscope. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen in a novelty book, I’m sure of it.

And! Just so you don’t have to only take my word for it, huge hot-off-the-presses congratulations to Kaleidoscope, first place winner of the novelty category for the Book Industry Guild of New York’s 27th Annual New York Book Show.

And with that, I leave you to it. You have lots of reading to do.

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Take Me Out to the Yakyu

byAaron Meshon

{published 2013, by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, and imprint of Simon & Schuster}

When I first heard of this book at SCBWI LA last summer, it was some art on a slide at the front of the room. I was in the back row, and I was hooked. I’ve been waiting for it ever since, and I love that its release was in eager anticipation of baseball’s opening days.

{Sidenote: Cano + Jay-Z? Interesting collaboration. I’ll always be a Chipper Jones girl myself. Middle school scrapbooks and everything. Really.}

But this book. It’s a visual juxtaposition of baseball traditions in America and Japan. A global pastime.

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On the left, a kiddo goes to the park with his Pop Pop, and on the right, he hangs out with his ji ji.

{Sidenote again: I had the world’s greatest Pop Pop – no offense to our bright eyed young’n in this book. He always called that Chipper Jones fella Skipper.}

The sweet story arc socked me in the gut a little, because of my own fondness for family trips to the baseball stadium. Aaron Meshon’s saturated colors that are full of life vibrate with the energy of a game. The American blues and the Japanese reds contrast beautifully on each spread, too.

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One of the reasons I love baseball so much is its balance of sheer intensity and quiet, and the roar of a rallied-up crowd. The composition of the illustrations echo that rise and fall – some are fully rendered to the edge, color spilling off the page. Some are contained in a quieter space, bordered by white.

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And I love this – a subtle repetition of a circle, the stitched up sphere of a baseball. It even shows up on the back of the title page. I’m blanking on my librarian vocabulary – the verso, is it? That part where all the important cataloging information lives.

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It’s here, too. Those cheeks!

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And this – baseball is exhausting.

So get this book. It’s a home run. (And a slam dunk, too – even though that’s the wrong sport.)

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Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth

written by Emily Haynes, pictures by Sanjay Patel

{Please, please, please…if you live in San Francisco, GO SEE THEM at the Cartoon Art Musuem on October 4th. Please! For me.}

Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth is based on a legend in Hindu mythology, but this version has jawbreakers! And a mouse pal! And SPECTACULAR illustrations!

Spectacular is really an understatement. I don’t think I know a word that can contain how spectacfantasterrificawesome these pictures are.

Endpapers that look like blueprints and sketches set the tone for a fresh story, enhanced so beautifully by shape and line.

From the title page on, this book will knock you out graphically. You will see stars (shape!) and vibrating birdies (movement!) flitting around your brain.

Ok. Let me back up a minute. Do you know Darshana Khiani? You should. She reviews books on her blog and always shares gems. And SHE is a gem. We met at the LA SCBWI conference in 2011, but what we didn’t know is that we would bump into each other over and over again online this year and become fast friends. So cool. Darshana emailed me a couple of weeks ago and told me I had to stop, drop, and roll myself to this book ASAP.

I love that she thought I would love it. I love that she was right. And I love that she suggested doing a joint review on it today.

That’s right! More book bang for your buck! So be sure to head over to her place for more of Ganesha and Mr. Mouse.

So much hops off the pages of Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth that my brain hurts to know where to begin. From the title page up a few pictures, to the repeated circles on the illustration above, shape dominates the pages. It’s a smorgasbord of circles, squares, and triangles.

Oh, this page. After every handful of illustrations, your eyes land on a picture like this one. The bright colors quiet for a moment, and these particular pages are striking in their stark contrast. White text, white graphic elements, and one bold, rich color. There’s something about pacing here, and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is that happens, but aesthetically, the balance is just outstanding.

A story about a sweet tooth begs for a decadent color palette, and these hues are just plain tasty and delightful.

Get this book. (Listen to Darshana, even if you think I am bonkers. She has good taste.)

Rapido’s Next Stop

by Joëlle Jolivet and Jean-Luc Fromental; published in English by Abrams Books For Young Readers.

Rapido’s Next Stop is slightly odd, sure, but it’s wholly mesmerizing. Its size and heavily weighted cover and pages are the first indicators of something a bit unusual.

The title page reveals a list of Rapido’s deliveries, and slyly asks you to join him on his route.

No, really…join him on his route! Following his red van on each page leads to the discovery of flaps to lift and riddles to solve. Remember those items from the title page? Each of them is delivered, but its word is replaced with a symbol. The rhyme on the flaps is sometimes a bit rusty, but I’d blame that on translation. Even still, it’s entertaining and smartly done.

The reader gets to work in this book, helping Rapido at each stop, and puzzling out the riddle as well. That experience, paired with the oversize nature of this book, leads to a very tactile interactivity.

And the color palette! Oh man. I adore Joëlle Jolivet’s strong style. The thick stroked black lines, filled in with vibrant and saturated hues (but not too many!) are so beautiful. (And her book Coloriages is just plain whoa. My rusty French tells me that means coloring pages? It’s a lift-the-flap coloring book, with the same weighted black lines and it is stunning.)

I love that there isn’t too much color to compete with the hustle and bustle of Rapido’s city. The rhythm and pattern and noise of the city is enhanced by the color, rather than confused by it. Here’s one full (drop dead gorgeous) spread:

And the colors used? Red, Green, Blue, Orange. That’s it. Red and Green are complements, as are Blue and Orange. They live directly opposite one another on the color wheel.

That’s so yesterday’s color news. Have you ever heard of a tetrad color scheme? Sure, everyone knows complementary, maybe even analogous, but if you’re ever at a cocktail party and need to sound really fancy, just drop some tetrad knowledge on them.

If you place a rectangle or a square onto the color wheel, the colors at the resulting corners can be used to create a tetrad color scheme.

Boom. Red, Green, Blue, Orange. It’s balanced, pleasing, and increases the amount of color contrast found in just a plain old complementary color scheme. Perfect for Rapido’s ride.

(And now Rapido has made me hungry for fancy French breakfast.)

Henri’s Walk To Paris

So Saul Bass {1920-1996} illustrated this. You know him, even if you think you don’t.

Recognize any of these?

Saul Bass undoubtedly has a powerful legacy of corporate logo design, but he is also considered the father of the title sequence. I can’t say that I was well aware of him before I was a motion graphics designer, but as an animator, I am very influenced by his strong use of line and his bold color palettes.

{You can see a roundup of his title sequences at Art of the Title.}

And that’s fancy and whatnot, but then he created this sparkling kids’ book.

Henri is just a little French garçon who dreams of Paris, but lives in Reboul. He packs up some cheese, a carrot, and a piece of bread and walks himself there. But {SPOILER ALERT!} he doesn’t make it. A little bird disrupts his navigation, and he ends up right back in Reboul. But Henri? Thinks he made it, and thinks Paris is quite like home. And we love him for that.

In graphic design, unity is the quality that ties individual elements into a beautiful whole. Me talking about Saul Bass is like a dirty sock puppet oozing with glue and googly eyes having an opinion on Jim Henson. He’s a master craftsman, and so let me just show you some moments I love.

Check out these consecutive spreads. The typographic element that reflects the title IS Henri. And from one page to another, there he goes, walking off to Paris. This graphic drives your eye forward and invites you to dive into this book. And of course it tiptoes left to right. It’s how we read, and it simply signifies forward motion. Smart is an understatement.

He doesn’t clutter this illustration with a window sill, curtains, or many details of the room inside. It doesn’t matter. The story is outside. This is a brilliant use of negative space.

Henri’s tiny house, contrasted with the vast world beyond. And color…green and red are direct opposites on the color wheel, so the tiny pop of red is a perfect choice to offset the mass of green.

Soothing pattern repeats in those thousands of trees and the zoo full of animals.

A reminder of the cover, a peek into Henri’s walk. And below, a shift in perspective and point of view.

So Henri leaves home and returns again. Likewise, Saul Bass’ pictures ramp up to the climax of the story, and repeat again as Henri heads home. That same window repeats, that same wide shot of the tiny white house sits still again, only with different text for a different time in the story. It’s a detail that’s hard to show in pictures, but on an overall visual read of the story…it’s magnificent.

Henri’s Walk To Paris in reprint is a gift I didn’t even know I was was on my wish list. It’s joining this monster on my coffee table-slash-corner of my desk.

The Woods

I was unfamiliar with Paul Hoppe before I picked this up on a recent trip to Vroman’s. (Which, by the way, has the greatest kids’ department EVER. Forget Disneyland on your trip to Southern California, hit up Vroman’s!)

But back to Paul Hoppe. The Woods is a bedtime adventure with a delightful twist. The page turns add suspense, the art creates texture and warmth, and the end is wholly satisfying. A bit of Where The Wild Things Are hops around through the pages too, which is especially sweet now given Mr. Sendak’s recent passing.

What initially attracted me to this book was the striking cover and how it wraps around to the back as well. It’s almost cyclical, with the fearless boy charging to the right, and a hint of what’s to come reaching in from the left.

And because I’m a sucker for endpapers, this got me:

Black is such an unusual choice for a dominant color on a picture book cover, and what made it jump off the shelf to me at Vroman’s. But for a bedtime story, for a little boy who is fearful of the dark, this choice allows space for him to act, to tremble a little, and to ultimately be BRAVE! The contrast between the stark black and the bright lime green is gorgeous.

The same is true within the illustrations — not in two very different colors, but in the bigness of the characters he meets and his own small size.

When we first meet the big scary brown bear and the two scary giants, they are larger than life on the page. The composition is so striking here, and the texture of the watercolor paper softens their big scary blow, should you need a little comforting.

And as it turns out, those big scary nighttime creatures aren’t so big and scary at all. Contrast helps to exaggerate what he sees in his imagination, and contrast serves to wrap up the words and pictures in a very dear bedtime package.

Reading the pictures closely throughout the book makes this initial page especially exciting on a return trip to it. Lots of fantastic moments exist in this early illustration, foreshadowing all of the exciting events to come. Enjoy this one — put a trashcan on your head and embrace the darkness!

The Loud Book

words by Deborah Underwood, pictures by Renata Liwska

A fun companion to The Quiet Book, The Loud Book celebrates all things NOISY.

Such a straightforward book calls for fairly straightforward type layout.

Belly Flop Loud

Thunderstorm Loud

Candy Wrapper Loud

Spilling Your Marbles In The Library Loud

And so on.

Enter: the title page.

And the copyright page.

Words spring out like sound waves; their layout amplifies the information.

Even the jacket flap gets in on this typography party:

Onomatopeia in bold and distinguished from the rest of the party.

So as a reader, you’ve seen and experienced the cover, the jacket flap, the title and copyright pages, all with nods to INCREASED VOLUME.

And now you’re ready to read.

I will even SHHH for you. Carry on.

Popville

Oh, Popville. Could you be any more charming? Grin-inducing, awe-inspiring, or just plain adorable?

{Actually, it’s kinda a pet peeve of mine when people write ‘Dear So and So’ letters to So and So, complain about something, and then sign it ‘xo’ and cutesy, and just… no thanks. So maybe I shouldn’t have started like that. But I am distracted by the sheer delight of Popville, so lay off, ok?! -xo}

Did you miss Anita Silvey’s Children’s Book Almanac post the other day? She’s brilliant, and if you haven’t spent time at her site, go on. I’ll wait.

She highlighted Robert Sabuda’s pop-up book Winter Tale as an homage to the creator of pop-up books, Lothar Meggendorfer. Stunning. So because it’s Picture Book Month, and I’d like to think I can include myself in cahoots with Anita Silvey and say ‘Great minds think alike,’ I give you a pop-up. Popville.

The red roofed house in the center of the bare white land is the main character. With each page turn, a tiny, then busy, then bustling city emerges around it. The full green trees become roads and light poles. A lone road becomes a grid for various modes of transportation. There’s a slight sense of sadness in experiencing this book and realizing that this type of development occurs on real wide open spaces that we know and love. But conversely, community develops. People are working, building, planning, and most importantly, growing together.

ELEMENT OF DESIGN: SHAPE

Just as people, goods, and services are the building blocks of community, shapes are the building blocks of design. So then, how fitting that Popville is crafted from primary shapes? Green circles become trees, white circles and rectangles create windows, squares and rectangles construct buildings and homes, and yellow triangles rest as rooftops. Popville is engineered in such a way that each spread reveals additions to the prior page, so the rectangle die cut grows progressively larger. This physical negative space also reflects the actual long skinny rectangular shape of the book itself.

Repetitive, simple, pleasing shapes…revealed ingeniously. Fascinating, tactile, and refreshingly stylish.

{Dear Popville, you rule. It’s been fun. Sincerely, Carter}

{Check out a virtual ‘reading’ of Popville here and a bit more about Anouck Boisrobert and Louis Rigaud here.}

Or take Popville for a spin yourself. I dare you to not smile.