Sunday, January 17, 2010

Love declaration

Here is a love confession to something old and something new--old like last year old, and I am talking about picture books of course, those that I read as 2009 was dying out and giving room to the New Year.

So, as I was finishing last year, these are the books that made me blush:

Love # 1: Diego: Bigger than Life, by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand and David Diaz.

The most felt book I read last year. If you want to know what I am talking about make sure to read the poem "No More Cezannes". However I was caught from the first book's lines: "What is life but a story? I choose to embellish my life story. / I am DIEGO--the charming, monstrous, caring, hideous, Mexican Muralist."

Love #2: Gracias, Thanks, by Pat Mora and John Parra.

Parra is becoming one of my favorite illustrators; his paintings remind me of living my childhood. Here is Mora's way of reminding us of all the ordinary, yet fantastic things to be grateful for: "For the sun that wakes me up so that I don't sleep for years and years and grow a long white beard, thanks"

Love #3: My Papa Diego and Me. By Guadalupe Rivera Marin and Diego Rivera.

Of course, if a book is illustrated with the paintings of Diego Rivera, the book has to be extraordinary. Even the endpapers are a vision. But what I didn't expect was that this book would be such of such a loving telling. Diego's daughter writes in the introduction, "When most people think of my father, Diego Rivera, they think of him as a famous painter. and they're right, he did grow up to be a famous painter. But before he became a famous artist, he was like you--a child." The selection of paintings are those that Diego painted of children, sometimes of Guadalupe herself, but also of mothers looking for a better life for their children, of piñatas being broken, of a coutry teacher giving reading lessons to children and adults alike. This book feels like looking at the family album while someone tells the stories behind.

Love #4: Jeremy Draws a Monster, by Peter McCarty.
What a detailed simple book! It is an ode to drawing, both in the story and in the art, and since drawing is one of my first loves, well, I adore this book.

Then 2010 began and got in the mail my copy of my first favorite book of the year. So, for something new...

My Shoes and I
, by Rene Colato Lainez and Fabricio Vanden Broeck

I heard about this book a few years ago while Rene and I ran into each other boarding a flight to Texas. As Rene talked about writing this story I couldn't wait for this book to be released. Rene tells me that Fabricio actually recreated in the book the same shoes that Rene had when he as a boy came into the USA.