Ask Pippa

2007: What's New in PIcture Books?


The Painted Circus, written and illustrated by Wallace Edwards ($19.95, Kids Can).

This picture book is unlike anything you have ever seen. It is full of nifty pictures that will fool your brain and your eyes into thinking you see things that aren't quite what's there.

Each picture is of a old-style circus scene - but with a twist or two. There are hints on each page on how you should look at the pictures. Follow those hints, and you'll see things that aren't there, and things that appear to move. Very cool and awesome.

The illustrations in this book, like some of Edwards' others, have a strong Victorian influence along with lots of incredible detail. Truly a work of art and definitely a keeper! For readers 5 and up.

The author/artist: Wallace Edwards is one of Canada's top illustrators of children's books.


Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose: The Story of a Painting, by Hugh Brewster ($19.95, Kids Can Press).

This sophisticated picture book offers the story about a young girl and her family who knew the real-life Expressionist painter John Singer Sargent. The story is from the point of a view of a young girl in the 1880s whose family had a country house in France.

Sargent used to visit there for long periods of time and paint. The girl, Kate, wonders if he will ever paint her into a picture? But, she watches as he spends weeks working on what was to become one of his most famous paintings -- a painting of two girls (but not Kate) lighting paper lanterns.

The events in this book are based on a true story, and is a great introduction to the world of art and history. But, not every kid will find the story fast enough, or exciting enough. It's a slow paced story with a laid-back feel to it -- which will appeal to certain types of readers. Sargent's paintings are shown throughout the book. For kids 9 to 12 who already have a soft spot for fine art.

The author: Hugh Brewster has written several historical non-fiction books for kids, through Scholastic Canada.


The Summer of the Marco Polo written by Lynn Manuel, illustrated by Kasia Charko ($19.95, Orca).

One wouldn't normally think that a story about a shipwreck off the coast of Prince Edward Island (PEI) as something that might appeal to fans of Lucy Maud Montgomery (author of Anne of Green Gables).

But guess what. This is a story of a shipwreck that happened in the waters right next to where Montgomery lived as a child! She actually witnessed the excitement around the rescuing of the sailors, and the captain even stayed at her home for a while.

Marco Polo is the name of the boat that crashed there in 1883. Until that moment, it had the reputation of being one of the fastest sea-faring boats in the world.

Details for the story were taken from Montgomery's journals and turned into this picture book. The young girl in the story is clearly her. This story is more likely to appeal to readers who already have an interest in Montgomery and her work.

The pastel illustrations show both the rage of the sea, and life on the island in 1883. For readers age 8 to 12.

The author: Lynn Manuel lives in British Columbia.

The illustrator: Kasia Charko has illustrated several picture books for kids.