Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don’t)
Our last trip of the summer was a 50km bike ride through the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake. We started off with 10 enthusiastic bikers, but over the course of two days people dropped like flies. We battled heat stroke, down pours, and air conditioning. By the end of the trip there were only 4 remaining souls peddling back to the train station.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is a tourist town, charming but packed to the brim with tourists. Looking to escape the crowd I found solace in a bookstore. Tucked away on a side street, the store had an amazing selection of children’s books; it felt like each book was hand picked. Though one third of the store was dedicated to children’s books, I didn’t get the feeling that the owner likes kids: the children’s books were the only books in the store vacuumed sealed! It drove me nuts! After 15 minutes I wanted to gnaw on the plastic seal. Seriously, how are you expected to buy a book if you can’t see the content? It’s a children’s book for heaven sake. It’s meant to be touched, looked at and flipped through – vacuumed sealed?!? That being said, I walked out with two books. I figured I couldn’t go wrong with Robert Ingpen’s version of The Wind in the Willows (written by Kenneth Grahame) or with a title like Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t). Keep reading…
It’s not very often that I come across a synopsis for a book that I want to quote word for word, but every time I sat down to write my own synopsis for Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t) I found myself replaying this:
With the help of Miss Brooks, Missy’s classmates all find books they love in the library—books about fairies and dogs and trains and cowboys. But Missy dismisses them all—“Too flowery, too furry, too clickety, too yippity.”
Still, Miss Brooks remains undaunted. Book Week is here and Missy will find a book to love if they have to empty the entire library. What story will finally win over this beastly, er, discriminating child? William Steig’s Shrek!—the tale of a repulsive green ogre in search of a revolting bride—of course!
Barbara Bottner and Michael Emberley pay playful homage to the diverse tastes of child readers and the valiant librarians who are determined to put just the right book in each child’s hands.
I am not sure who the original author of the synopsis is but I do know it was issued by the publisher, Random House. It’s a wonderful piece that not only perfectly describes the book but also captures the spirit of the story. The only thing I would add is Barbara Bottner and Michael Emberley also pay homage to the classics, celebrating authors and illustrators with titles like The Runaway Bunny (Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd), Where the Wild Things Are (Maurice Sendak), The Very Hungry Caterpillar (Eric Carle) and Shrek (William Steig).
Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t) will tickle your funny bone. The loose pencil crayons and watercolour illustrations are well matched for this clever and quirky story. The cartoon like style is subtle not overworked or exaggerated, supporting the text without overwhelming it. Nothing about the books is exaggerated, silly yes but not over the top. Dry and subtle humor that will give readers the pleasure of a good giggle and an occasional laugh out loud.
Miss Brooks Loves Books (and I don’t), a children’s book review by Thao Lam
Author Barbara Bottner
Life as a funny way of leading you where you need to be, Barbara Bottner spent years studying and training to be a fine artist (Boston University, 1961–62, and École des Beaux Arts, 1963–64; University of Wisconsin—Madison, B.S., 1965; University of California, Santa Barbara, M.A., 1966; studied animation at School of Visual Arts). Upon graduating Bottner took her portfolio around to publishers where the responses were luke warm. However there was one response she kept getting from every editor she met, she was encouraged to try her hands at writing. So she did.
Not only did she discover her knack for writing, she also had a wonderful ability to inspire and draw stories out of others. Honored with the “Distinguished Teaching Award”, Bottner teaches writing both privately and at the New York’s Parson’s School of Design. Many well-known writers and illustrators have graduated from her course, talents like Bruce Degen, Denise Doyen, Alex Flinn, Robin Preiss Glasser, Antoinette Portis, Joe Ranft, Peggy Rathmann, Barney Saltzberg, Lane Smith, and April Halprin Wayland, among many others.
To learn more about Barbara Bottner, check out her website www.barbarabottnerbooks.com
Illustrator Michael Emberley
Being an illustrator was not a pursuit of a lifelong dream; Michael Emberley needed money. Never one to study, Emberley was a classic underachiever in school. Michael Emberley does not have an art degree. He never stayed long enough to get any formal art training; he would show up for a few months of classes before moving on to another school.
Michael Emberley may not have learned a lot in school but he was filled with curiosity. Constantly asking questions, observing, and learning from those around him, he gained invaluable hands on experiences. He was lucky enough to be surrounded by people in the children’s book industry. His father is the legendary illustrator Ed Emberley and his sister is author and illustrator Rebecca Emberley. Emberley’s wife, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick also writes and illustrates children’s books. Surround by such talents it’s hard to believe anyone not being be inspired.
To learn more about Michael Emberley, check out his website www.michaelemberley.com
Publisher Knopf Books for Young Readers (March 9, 2010)