Series: Picture This

Picture This: The Tree House by Marije and Robert Tolman

The Tree House (first published by Lemniscaat, Belgium, in 2009) is a wordless picture book created by the father-daughter team of Marije and Ronald Tolman. It depicts a couple of bears (and many other animals) hanging out in a treehouse that starts out in the ocean and ends up on dry land. The blurb on the dust jacket flap describes this as the water receding, but that makes it seem too routine and natural. Really the ocean in the book seems to follow a dreamlike logic — it is there when it needs to be, and then it is gone...

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Picture This: Gyo Fujikawa

I picked up my first Gyo Fujikawa book as a teenager in a used bookstore, because the cute, gentle artwork caught my eye. Titled simply Mother Goose, it was a hefty book containing many traditional folk and nursery rhymes and an equally impressive number of illustrations. The pages alternated between delicate pen-and-ink spots and cheerful paintings that mixed flat colors with lovingly rendered detail on the costumes and environments. I had no idea, picking up that book, that Fujikawa was an influential and prolific illustrator who had created countless treasured childhood memories through her lifetime output of 50 very...

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Picture This: Raggedy and the Cloud

This write-up is more personal than the other ones I’ve done so far, and I hope you will excuse me gushing for several minutes about some artists I love and admire. Sofia Prokofievna (b. 1928) is a Russian illustrator, poet, playwright, and, most importantly to me, the author of many original “fairy tales” for children. She was one of my absolute favorite writers when I was a child; her clever, creative, magical stories of cursed princesses, kindly neighborhood wizards and the like captivated me. Looking back, she was probably the Russian storyteller whose work was most formative for my...

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