Ask Pippa

2005: What's New in Picture Books?

Sports Hall of WeirdMixed Beasts, by illustrator Wallace Edwards (Kids Can Press, $19.95Cdn/$17.95 US) - based on the 1904 book by Kenyon Cox

This is a very cool redo of the Victoria era book by Kenyon Cox, also called Mixed Beasts. The original verses by Cox are used in the book. This book plays with t he idea of what happens if you mix-up animals to create new creatures. Some of the beasts featured in this delightful book include the Rhinocerostrich, the Kangorooster, and many more.Wallace has used Cox's original illustrations (which are featured on the left side of the pages), and created newer, more detailed versions. In fact, if you look at the modern illustrations carefully, you'll find all sort of new and bizarre creatures -- ma y of which are like visual puns. Some of Wallaces creatures include a fowl ball (part chicken, part baseball; a fruit bat (a banana with bat wings, and a spider monkey (a monkey with eight arms). Indeed, if you like pictures with strange, detailed beast along with short funny poems, then you'll like this book. Readers of this book might also like picture books by Australian illustrator Graeme Base.

The author/illustrator: Wallace Edwards is a lively and funny illustrator who enjoys puns, and lives in Kingston, Ontario. A previous book, Alphabeasts won a Governor General's Award for Children's Literature (illustration).

ttThe Paper Bag Princess: 25th Anniversary Edition, by Robert Munsch. Illustrations by Michael Martchenko (Annick Press, $19.95Cdn)

The Paper Bag Princess is probably the most successful picture book to come out of Canada. It has been translated into numerous languages, and has been reprinted many times. This new book includes not only the original story, but tells the story of how it was created. If you're a fan of Robert Munsch, then this book gives you an idea of who this writer is, and the steps he took to create this story and get it published. There is even a copy of the first page of the original version of the story he wrote -- it's a bit different. Along with Martchenko's lively illustrations (and some background about him too), you will see photographs of both author and illustrator. This book is for the dedicated fan. If you're not into stories about authors, then this may not be for you. The only downside is that the front and back covers of the book look more like a magazine advertisement than the cover of a book.

The author: Robert Munsch has written numerous, popular picture books for kids. Among the titles are Pigs, David's Father, A Promise is a Promise, Mud Puddle and more. He lives in Guelph, Ontario.

The illustrator: Michael Martchenko has illustrated many picture books for kids, including ones that were by other writers. He lives in Toronto.