Christmas Birds.

I’ve been working on these little fellas as part of a Christmas card project. It’s not yet finished, but here’s a sneaky peek..

I’d started off planning to draw a turkey, but admitted defeat at trying to turn what is frankly a very ugly bird, into something appealing! He may still make an appearance yet, but perhaps wearing a balaclava…so for the meantime, its just the garden bird gang.

The Friday Book Review, The Stinky Cheeseman.

Todays book is ‘The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales’ by Jon Scieszka  illustrated by Lane Smith and designed by Molly Leach.

Wow what a trio! Leach is married to Smith and the close collaboration results in a beautifully, cleverly, awesomely designed book.The three of them have worked together on a number of books and they are all great. Smith contributes to a blog about children’s books, he says;

“I don’t like ordinary, middle-of-the-road books. I like funny, odd books that excite and challenge a child.”

This book is not newly published, but I had to include it here as it has been a firm favourite for so long, and an inspiration on so many levels, and for me sets the standard of what a childrens book should and can be about.

As I mentioned, a perfect trio, the design is witty, its fun, its clean, it pushes the boundaries and boy does it pull it off! As Smith said in an interview, he produces sketches and tells Leach what typeface he wants, she then tells him which one will work better and redesigns where his drawings will go. It works!
Scieszka’s writing is an absolute joy, playful,clever and storytelling at its best. He really does know how to talk to his audience. I love his playfulness and his reinvention of traditional stories.

And Mr Smith, I think I pretty much have everyone of his books, but this remains a firm favourite- maybe because it was the first one I came across, maybe because its just so good. I greatly admire how Smith constantly pushes his work, some more pared down, others more experimental. I love in this book how the three of them seem to have springboarded off each other. I like to think they had a lot of fun working on it, it certainly seems that way.

I remember reading in an article that it took them a long time to get it published. In todays publishing climate, I wonder if a publisher would have taken the risk? It’d be sad to think a book like this wouldn’t be published.