A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the Very Young
Published by Walker Books. I love A Great Big Cuddle. Chris Riddell and Walker hooked me the moment I held this big, square-format book in my hands and drank in that beguiling cover. What unfolds as you turn the pages is an active, textural journey through rhythm and ideas. Rosen and Riddell are masters each of their respective arts, and fuse together seamlessly here with the indispensible aid of the book design and typography, which contribute enormously. Rosen’s poems are highly rhythmical, some are action poems, some more contemplative, most just for fun. They form a tour of textures and associations, to which Chris Riddell amply plays harmony and counterpoint.
He's working here in what looks to be graphite and watercolour, which seems to loosen him up from the very controlled pen work he more commonly produces, immediately giving each character (animal, vegetable or mineral) a vibrant inner life.
The illustrations for each poem shine individually, but across the whole Riddell weaves additional stories and associations by creating a series of children and their toys/imaginary friends to recur throughout the book. There are also rhyming illustrations of certain species of animals, for example, in different contexts.
Importantly in a collection such as this, the illustrations all feel of a piece, while scaling a range of subjects, emotions and perspectives. All in all, I think this is the best picture book I've read for this challegne, Rosen, Riddell and everyone at Walker combining their efforts to shape not just a handsome book, but a lustrous one.
Hoot Owl is hunting for food and thinks he's a master of disguise, but he's really not. Both the simplicity of this premise and the simplicity of the artwork play into the sophisticated character comedy that unfolds. Jean Jullien's illustrations, by themselves and as an integral part of the book's design, are a model of economy. Shape is conveyed by thick black dry-brush lines and depth by choice colour. The text folds naturally into the book's double-page designs.
Sean Taylor's eccentric first person narration for Hoot Owl provides the whole story with an ironic overview of success and failure. I was completely charmed by this book - it's beautiful.
Katie McGinty Wants A Pet by Jenna Harrington and Finn Simpson (Little Tiger Press)