As this is my brand new website (my old website was getting overloaded with diverse topics that have preoccupied me over the last 20 years), the focus in this blog is going to be on my first, current and future passion – picture books. I have always loved picture books, but I was never as serious about writing and illustrating them as I am now. Having worked as an illustrator, a poet and a printmaker, these occupations have helped me to appreciate the power of words and pictures more than ever before.
I will use this blog to create a library of my favourite picture books, past and present. I will analyse why I like them, what is uniquely special about them, and how they were created.
Just occasionally there will be some news about my own picture books, which I’m constantly working on.
For my first post, I’m going to mention a book that captured my heart a few weeks ago. I subscribe to a wonderful website called Brain Pickings, and this is where I discovered Pinnochio: the Origin Story by Alessandro Sanna.
This is an almost wordless picture book, something which publishers are often very afraid of publishing. They feel that parents and teachers need a story to narrate to the children, but I found this story very easy to narrate to my granddaughter – the pictures told me exactly what to say. They are watercolours, rendered in the brightest colours, using a seemingly effortless technique that evolves with the natural flow of the medium (you can see Alessandro working in this youtube video). The story is on one level just a series of adventures experienced by – a twig. But the beauty of the images somehow gives it greater depths; I compare it to listening to Beethoven’s pastoral symphony, if you can get the Disney images out of your head and concentrate on the power of the music instead. Because we don’t have a didactic narrative, Sanna’s pictures literally speak for themselves.
As to the meaning of this story, my granddaughter never asked me to explain. She simply absorbed the pictures, feeling the emotions that the images evoked, and empathising with the little stick creature. She didn’t know the Pinocchio story and had never seen the Disney version, even though she is totally up to date with the latest Disney epics.
I suggest you read the article in Brain Pickings and then buy the book for your child, someone else’s child, or yourself. You won’t regret it.