A surprise in the mail other day found its way to my desk. Two hardcover picture books from a publisher I do not remember asking for (but I am on publishers’ lists so it could be they cold-sent!) called The Pack by Amanda Cley and Cecilia Ferri and A Perfect Spot by Isabelle Simler.
The Pack is spooky. Not in the usual sense of “creepy ghosts or goblins” but the tone is somber, and the sepia colors (with the hints of rare other colors just present on the page) makes it not a lighthearted book. It is a picture book, but I do not know of any child I personally would give it to. The theme is for the child with its “Be yourself” and “Do not follow the pack” message. But the presentation is old fashioned and old-world tone to it. (After reading, I learned it is an Italian translation.) The idea is simple, which I appreciated. The narrative is an outside the story voice saying, “You can follow other people, keeping a form of safety and familiarity” or you can be “outside that connection.” And while it will not be easy being the outsider, and stepping away from your comfort zone, you will “expand” to the best possible you. The illustrations are basic but have a special attention to detail to them. They are lovely, but also have that somber feeling, yet there is some lightness to them that helps give a hopeful feeling on top of the heavier subject.
Then there is A Perfect Spot. This is a lot lighter than the other book. Still, it is not all a bed of roses (well there is a page that has some roses, but still, it is not rosy). This book in a fiction format, tells how a ladybug started (before the book officially opens) and then how it needs to find a safe place to lay her eggs. Yet, there are dangers and problems with all her choices: the tree is occupied by moths, flowers have crab spiders and more. Some of the creatures we meet just want peace, but others want a tasty ladybug snack. Of course, you know eventually our ladybug will win, but until then you see the world from a bug eye view. The art is lush, and while not abstract, is not completely solidly “real.” The colors have a brightness to them, showing a lovely day in the meadow, but also are not deeply colored. The text sometimes is lost on the page due to the busyness of the artwork, but also you can find it. Overall, the book while has “natural events of nature” it is a cozy story. It is a French translation by Vineet Lal.
Both books are not for the very young, but they can be for almost any age. Adults might appreciate The Pack more than your traditional child reader/listener, but A Perfect Spot would be good in a science classroom/studies.