What’s Your Superpower?

I had the most wonderful conversation recently with two 7 year-old girls about what a superpower is.  The conversation was inspired by the picture book The Day I Lost My Superpowers by Michael Escoffier and Kris Di Giacmo.  In it, a masked girl tries to explain her secret superpowers.  Like many children, she wants to be able to make magic.  Rather than stay grounded in dull reality, she creates a secret identity and lives in a world where she has the control every child craves.
Our narrator is not quite reliable, though, and her story and the pictures are at odds with one another.  
It’s a delight to see how far she goes to make her imagined powers a reality. 

 Inevitably, she finds she can’t fly when one of her contraptions fails and she get grounded in reality with a dramatic SPLAT.
At the end of the book, my 7 year old friends and I agreed that moms had true superpowers that were more important than any superhero they’d ever seen.  We discussed exactly what a superpower is.  Of course, both girls talked about superhero powers, but then we got back down to reality where things like helping friends and family seemed a bit more important than walking through walls or becoming invisible.
One of the girls decided her superpower was make her little sister laugh when she was grumpy, and setting the table before her mom even asked.  The other girl decided her power were being able to find her brother’s missing toys and drawing ponies.  I decided mine was being able to find great stories almost every day and sharing them with my friends.  We all thought we had the superpower of imagination and this book gave us lots of new ways to imagine things. 
It was wonderful how the interplay of fantasy and reality sparked our appreciation of both.  The illustrations made us all want to get out our crayons and draw some of the magic in our lives. 
The Day I Lost My Superpowers is a big beautiful book.  It’s well bound and has thick pages.  Since I read and share books with kids in the Bridge Meadows community, I always love it when the book seems capable of being read over and over by dozens of little story lovers.  Enchanted Lion, the book’s publisher, consistently does a great job of making books that will stand up over generations.  They’ll be treasures passed down when kids grow up and have kids of their own.
Michael Escoffier says he was raised by a family of triceratops and discovered his love for stories as a child.  He lives in Lyon, France.  He’s the author of Brief Thief and Me First.  Kris Di Giacomo has lived in France since childhood.  She’s illustrated over 25 books, including My Dad is Big and Strong, BUT…, Brief Thiefand Me First. These two are a great team and I hope they use their super story powers for many more books. 
Here’s links to other Enchanted Lion Books I’ve reviewed:  The Hole by Oyvind Torseter and The Jacket by Kirsten Hall and Dasha Tolstikova.
Thanks for reading my blog.  May you find books that refill your sense of wonder.  

How to Love and Care For a Book

I read to children a lot, but I’ve never had a child squeal with delight when I removed the book jacket to reveal the book’s cover.  Such is the magic of the book The Jacket by Kirsten Hall and illustrated by Dasha Tolstikova, published by Enchanted Lion Books, 2014.  Actually, I don’t often take the jacket off a book, but this one is special.

I read it to Karishma, my 6 year old neighbor here at BridgeMeadows community.  She’s become my go-to girl for reading picture books.  Most kids delight in story, but Karishma seeks books out and is always working on one of her own.  She was very interested in this story about a book that is alive.
Not only is Book alive, but he’s a bit lonely and in need of someone to care about him.

Finally, a girl discovers Book and takes him home:

The art is playful and inviting with lots of white space

But Book isn’t the only love in the girl’s life.  There’s her dog.

The name Egg Cream always gets a laugh from kids

Book can see why the girl loves Egg Cream, but he’s a big slobbery problem to Book, and that dog’s always interrupting the girl’s reading.

Tolstikova’s creates great expressions for book and the girl

One day, a disaster happens and Egg Cream damages Book.  The girl is upset and it feels like she no longer loves Book.  The next morning, however, the girl makes Book a jacket and he is even more special to her.  The last pages of the book show how to make a book jacket for any book you love.

One of the things I loved about The Jacket was that although Book saw Egg Cream as a problem and was damaged by him, they never became real enemies.  The girl, the book, and the dog are all a kind of family, and there are ways to work out things if there is love.  The sweet way the girl repairs Book delights the children I read it to. 

It’s always a pleasure when I find books like this because the children I read to are all part of adoptive families.  Some are adopted into families, some are with their birth parents but have adopted brothers and sisters.  They need stories about creative resolutions to problems. stories that show how damaged things can be repaired – sometimes in ways that make them more colorful.

I read it to a group of children, and before I started I asked them if any of them had a very favorite book they liked to read over and over again.  None of them did.  After I read it, one girl said, “The Jacket’s my favorite book now.”
When I read it to Karishma, it was just me and her.  After I read it, I took off the jacket.

She squealed, “It’s book!” grabbed it from me and hugged it.  “Oh Book, I’m so happy you’re here.”  Then she was quiet for minute.  “Wait a minute.  This is Book.  And Book is a book about a book.  That’s awesome.”

Awesome, indeed.

Here’s a trailer for The Jacket:

Kirsten Hall is a former teacher who wrote learn-to-read books for Scholastic .  She is the proprietor of Catbird Productions, a literary agency.  The Jacket is her debut picture book.  You can learn more about her by clicking here.
Dasha Tolstikova has held many jobs including photographer, reporter, film producer and painter.  This is her debut into the world of picture books.  You can find out more about her here.
The Jacket was named a New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2014 and a Huffington Post Honorable Mention for ‘Most Charming’ Picture Book of 2014. 
The publisher, Enchanted Lion Books, publishes LOTS of charming and thoughtful books.  You can see their catalog by clicking here.  I reviewed another of their books, The Hole, by Oyvind Torseter earlier this year and you can click here to see it.  I will review more in the very near future.
You can read reviews that Karishma helped me with here (Wild by Emily Hughes) and here(Hug Me by Simona Ciraolo).

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The Hole Story

What happens when you drill a hole through your book?  Oyvind Torseter has done a remarkable thing and made a hole a fully developed character in his charming book The Hole, published by EnchantedLion Books (2012).  It’s an almost entirely wordless book, but Torseter’s visual storytelling creates a page turning adventure.  Most of the pleasure is seeing where the hole has got to – because even though it’s in the center of the book, in the illustrations it moves around dramatically.  My scans don’t do it justice, you really want to see this book up close and personal.
In deceptively simple line drawings, Torseter introduces a character moving boxes into an apartment.  When he sits down to dinner he discovers a hole in the wall.


When he investigates further, he finds the hole has moved.  This hole is a little devilish.
Suddenly we’re in a surreal world where there are people who can help with renegade holes.

After the hole is captured, it has to be transported to a lab.

Our innocent man thinks the hole is safe in his box, but the hole is having its own adventure. Page after page shows the hole touring around the city and having a great time.
It continues to do so, even after it’s been studied by experts.
I’ve shared this book with some young friends in the Bridge Meadowscommunity, and they, too, were amazed by the way the hole seemed to move around.  The story is loopy and unique and inspired great conversations about how art can play visual tricks on you.
Reba’s amazed by the hole’s trickery


It’s a well bound book that lies flat and invites investigation

This is a great book for all ages – although it’s marketed for children, it’s really a book for anyone who loves illustration. It sparked our imaginations about what the hole would do after the book was closed.

Lydia studies the drawings and tries to figure out how the hole gets around so well

Both Lydia and Reba thought it was cool enough to want to read it again.  We loved that a complex story could be told in this unique way.

When I read it, I thought of artist Paul Klee’s statement that “a line is a dot that went for a walk.”   This hole goes for a walk and a ride and it takes flight. My sense of wonder took flight, too.

Øyvind Torseter is a Norwegian artist, illustrator, comic book artist, and author. In addition to his own books, books illustrated by Torseter include the beautiful and poignant My Father’s Arms Are A Boatby Stein Erik Lunde. During his career, Torseter has emerged as one of Norway’s foremost illustrators.   We hope his books keep getting published here in America.
Enchanted Lion publishes unique and amazing books from all over the world.  Check out their website to find great books:  http://www.enchantedlionbooks.com/node/2
The most intriguing hole you’ll ever look through

Thanks for reading my blog.  I welcome any comments.