Monday, November 5, 2012

More By I. C. Springman, Illustrated by Brian Lies

Target Audience: The child of a book lover, especially, or any kid, age 1-7ish.

This is one of the best children's books to come out this year.  There are other great kid's books (which I'll try to get up before the holidays), but none that I love so much as this one.

The story is about a magpie that, in the beginning, has nothing.  Its mouse friend gives it a marble and it understands what it means to have something.  Suddenly the magpie wants more.  Just a little more.  Then a lot more.  And then way, way too much.  Luckily the mouse is still there to help.  It's a valuable lesson in a culture where your life's value can seemingly be measured by how much you own, rather than how much you really need.

One of the things I love about this book, is how few words it has.  Most of the story telling is inferred with pictures and left to the imagination.  That paragraph above has more words than the whole book, so it's great for the very little ones, and those just learning to read.  These factors will allow the book to grow with the child.  Kids at different points in their life will get different things from the book, so it's not like a board book that you read to a toddler a few times and then may end up throwing away when the child outgrows it.

The pages are full of all of the things the magpie has collected, like marbles, string, coins, stamps, toys, everything.  There's even a Pink Floyd cassette tape, which is obviously there for the adult reading the book, because the current generation has never seen or heard of a cassette tape (I know this because when I told a girl the only audio book available for the book she wanted as on cassette tape, she had no idea what I was talking about, which lead her mother and I to exchange a "kids these days" look).  Having all of these items adds another layer to the interactivity of reading to a child.  Even if the child can't read, perhaps she can count the marbles?  Maybe he can find all of the purple things?  What kind of coin is that? Where do you think that Lego brick came from?  Someone I sold it to planned to use it with kids with learning disabilities, which again, illustrates its versatility.

You can't talk about a kid's book without also talking about the art.  It is fantastic.  To me, a children's book is just as much art, as it is story, so even if the story is great, the art has got to support it.  Because the art does most of the story-telling in this book, there's even more pressure for it to be great, and illustrator Brian Lies lives up to my completely objective and outrageously-high standards.

I could never recommend a children's book if I didn't think it would be cherished forever, and perhaps saved for future children.  After all, I still own my favorite childhood books.

Buy it indie!

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