Category Archives: Picture Books

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie MackesyTitle: The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse
Author: Charlie Mackesy
Publisher: Ebury Press, Penguin Random House UK
ISBN: 9781529105100
Genre: Picture Book, Books for Everyone
Pages: 128
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

The more I live in this world, the more I do not want to interact with most people. I want to stay away from them all, because I also know that they want the same. They just don’t say it. No one has what it takes to say that they do not want to listen to you, or pick up the phone and talk to you, or even be there as a friend. Yet, strangely enough you are called a friend by them. We all like to pretend most of the time.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy - Image 1

But once in a while, there comes a book that makes you see the beauty in the world – the love, the forgiveness, the simplicity of perhaps a smile, and what empathy can do for both parties involved. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy makes you believe in the goodness, the niceness, and the joy of being alive, even in a world such as this.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy - Image 2

It is about these four – who are lost, unhappy, scared, and don’t have a clue about what to do with their lives, and yet they meet each other, and soldier on. They love, share, talk, and understand what it takes to go from one day to the next. Reading this book made me smile at almost every page, and that healed and helped me immensely.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy - Image 3

We all need to pause and consume art that heals. The kind of art that doesn’t weigh heavy on your heart. The kind that (in the most cliché way of them all) sets you free, and you do not even realise that has happened. This book is all kinds of hopeful and wonderful. Something we all could use in times such as these. Yes, I will use all the trope descriptors, but it does feel like a warm hug, a friend holding your hand, and someone who is just there for you, telling you you are loved. Read it. Please.

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

The Rabbit ListenedTitle: The Rabbit Listened
Author and Illustrator: Cori Doerrfeld
Publisher: Dial Books
ISBN: 978-0735229358
Genre: Picture Books, Children’s Books
Pages: 32
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

What do we need in times such as these? Someone who will listen without any bias or judgement? Someone who will be there for you, and wouldn’t need to prove that time and again? The Rabbit Listened is a book to soothe the heart, the mind, and perhaps even the soul. It just made me smile, and be thankful for what exists. Even if it doesn’t. Even if it did at some point. And by it, I mean relationships.

The Rabbit Listened is a book for all of us. It is about empathy. It is about empathy that we do not action, even though we tend to speak volumes of it on the Internet, and specifically on social media. The Rabbit Listened is about a boy who has something he loves destroyed, and all sorts of animals come to advise him about how he should move on, till the rabbit just sits and listens. A listening ear is all we need, perhaps most of the time.

We all need that rabbit in our lives. Someone who will listen, and just be there. This book somehow strangely reassures us about people in our lives, about the love, the kindness, and why do we hold them dear and close to us. We need to understand empathy and how to action it more now than ever. The Rabbit Listened is for people of all ages, and not just for children. We all need to listen, and be there.

The Beach at Night by Elena Ferrante. Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein.

The Beach at Night by Elena Ferrante Title: The Beach at Night
Author: Elena Ferrante
Translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein
Illustrations by Mara Cerri
Publisher: Europa Editions
ISBN: 978-1609453701
Genre: Children’s Books, Picture Books
Pages: 38
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5

This book is a picture book by Ferrante. It is also a children’s book (or so it seems). The Beach at Night is a deceptive book, that pretends to be a book for kids and can scare the bejesus out of you. It is a macabre story of a doll and has several hints of terror. This is told in the traditional sense of a fairy tale for kids, but goes deeper than that. The book is from the doll’s perspective (almost reminded me of the doll we meet in My Brilliant Friend) and has so much touches of darkness all throughout.

It is as though all her books have the same theme – darkness, loneliness, and the idea to belong at some level. Although this book does have a happy ending, it still is peppered with a lot of dark imagery (though it is this small a book). I don’t even know if the book is for children really, but it definitely works for adults.

In this one the translation itself might be limited, given the few use of words, but nonetheless it is done effectively to transport you to the world of Ferrante. Let me tell you something about the story. Celina the doll is jealous of the new kitten Minu. She gets lost along the way and somehow the story then reaches the beach. What happens next and the things that happen to her is what the book is about.

The illustrations by Mara Cerri are so aligned to the story and are more than enough to create the atmosphere of loneliness and abandonment, thereby leading to the other darker themes of the short picture book. The Beach at Night is an unusual book, and yet hands down so fulfilling a read, the one that will haunt you for a while.

The Worm and the Bird by Coralie Bickford-Smith

The Worm and the Bird Title: The Worm and the Bird
Author: Coralie Bickford-Smith
Publisher: Particular Books, Penguin
ISBN: 9781846149221
Genre: Picture Book
Pages: 64
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

 

Is it even a book read, if it is a picture book? I say, why not? A book is a book is a book. Different genres are still counted as books, isn’t it? Picture books read are still counted as read books according to me and that’s quite alright.

Now that that is out of the way, let’s talk about, “The Worm and the Bird”.  This book is about a worm and a bird (as you might have rightly guessed, duh!) and the different things they want and how they almost get it or they do for that matter. Under the earth, the worm needs more space. Above the earth, the bird searches for something else. And that’s what the book is. Of course, what makes it so endearing are the illustrations and what one doesn’t expect (which I will not reveal) as well.

Coralie Bickford-Smith’s earlier book, “The Fox and the Star” was a delight and so is this one. “The Worm and the Bird” is also about the shortness of life, but it also rings true of how life should be lived. Being a picture book, it cannot get preachy at all, which it isn’t.

“The Worm and the Bird” is the kind of book which has to be read and appreciated by people of all ages. It is a lesson, but beyond that it is also to be read because of the stunning illustrations, the ink artwork and to get back to understand how stories are told.

Kevin by Rob Biddulph

Kevin Title: Kevin
Author: Rob Biddulph
Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
ISBN: 9780008207410
Genre: Picture Book, Children’s Books
Pages: 32
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

“Kevin” is a book for children written by a child at heart. Did I tell you that I absolutely love and adore picture books or board books? In my opinion, they are some of the most profound books you will ever read. That’s true at least in my experience of reading them all these years. Children’s books are also very soothing. They help lift the weight of the world off your shoulders and live a little. To see the world afresh with a new pair of eyes and that’s what is needed these days, given the times we live in.

Sid Gibbons is in trouble yet again. He is always making a mess and his mum is always losing her patience with him. So this time when he makes a mess of the house and things (yet again) he blames it on Kevin, his big furry, vanilla and pink friend. And while he thinks all is well, he is in for a surprise as Kevin just might not be an imaginary friend after all.

I absolutely loved this picture book. It is extremely beautifully illustrated by Rob and the words are just as impactful. The book is joyful and uplifting. In a world surrounded by hate and misery, we need more books such as these to make us understand and realize that perhaps all is not lost. Most adults I know think children’s books aren’t meant for them but that’s just an adult who refuses to pander to the child within. Don’t be that person. Read widely. Read diversely. Read picture books as well – all the time.