Sometimes when I combine picture books into one review it is because by themselves writing 250 words on each means writing more words about the book than are in the book(s), and a combo review is a fun way just to get good books out there. And sometimes, like these two books, there is a theme connecting them. This time it is the illustrations are similar with its real and traditional illustration combinations.
Thankful by Elaine Vickers can be a book one uses year-round. It is not just for the holidays, though Thanksgiving and Christmas season would be the best times for reading. It is a modern story about creating a physical chain of gratitude, and of hope. The young girl of the story writes, draws and creates a paper chain of the things she is thankful for. Some are as big as a safe, warm home and some are seemingly smaller but are just as big and important. Samantha Cotterill has the mixed media format to the illustrations. Real items mixed in with drawn imagery makes something fresh, new, and classic at the same time. The colors are not overly bold, but expressive and the details mix-it-up by being the right amount needed. And while this picture book is good for all ages, it is best for ages five and up and will work well in the classroom setting or home setting.
Farmhouse by Sophie Blackall reminded me somewhat of my maternal grandmother and her family. The narrator speaks of a family of 12 children (my grandmothers siblings numbered around that), and how the house they grew up in held them close, saw them get into mischief and finally leave for other things. This longer poetic prose picture book allows us to see a family, as they take a potato and stamp the walls, paint the cat, were loved, punished, when they were sick and when they were very old and off to see the ocean. This is a sweet take about family. The artwork of Blackall’s is a mixture of found items that are real and illustrations. This mixed media gives it a fresh look, but also allows that classical feel to jump off the page the colors are mostly soft, but fit the themes and scene shown. You feel as if you are in the Appalachian Mountains, or on a prairie homestead.