Andrew Drew And Drew

Are you a sketcher? A doodler? A drawer?

(As in draw-er, not dresser!)

If so, you just may see yourself in this crafty, clever book.

This is a fairly new release from my fairly new friend, Barney Saltzberg.

Whether you have a tiny imagination that needs some calisthenics, or a huge-mongous, uncontrollable one, meet Andrew.

He draws. And draws.

And his lines become, well — anything at all!

Or even nothing.

And sometimes nothing is the best something.

Andrew.

He (and my new friend Barney!) have crafted a wonderfully animated book. You can’t just sit back and read it. You have to guess! And wonder! And unfold all of the pages!

And? Andrew (and Barney!) have left you enough white space to fill in the story with things from your own brain. What do you see? Where does your line take you?

It’s a delight. A brain tickler. An interactive treat.

A book.

The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics

by Norton Juster, who rocks a fishing vest with mad style. How do I know? I saw him in person:

…and had him sign this smart love story for my own love story. When you are part of a couple who prioritizes Jeopardy! and does math problems on diner napkins for fun, this book matters.

Once upon a time there was a sensible straight line who was hopelessly in love with a dot.

Our hapless line jumps through hoops and over hurdles to impress his round red love. Each page is visually stunning; this book reads like a master class in graphic design.

This line, nothing but a straight series of points, becomes a very loud, larger than life character. A simple horizontal line becomes a celebrated daredevil or an international sportsman.

Likewise, the flirty red dot is just as zesty and appealing. It’s JUST a red circle, but Norton Juster characterized her so brilliantly that a simple shape becomes larger than life.

Soon, you are entirely wrapped up in the love story between a dot and a line. A dot. And a line. Two basic graphic elements.

You marvel at the line’s ingenuity,

his vision,

and his dedication.

But does he get the girl and complete his equation?

If the animated endpapers are any consideration, I’d bet on a happy ending.

This MGM animated short from 1965 is such a fun adaptation of Norton Juster’s work, and won that year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. In the spirit of this Hollywood awards season and because Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, spend 10 minutes celebrating the love of a dot and a line. You’ll love it.

I Want My Hat Back {the preview}

This Twitter exchange today made me wobble in my knees a little bit:

THE Jon Klassen replied to my tweet? On an enormous award-winning day? Yeah, I squealed a bit.

I’ve been planning a post for I Want My Hat Back this week, and have had a hard time putting its perfection into words that haven’t already been said. Motion graphics to the rescue. I didn’t create this trailer, but I love it. Get your feet wet on this, run out and read it, and I’ll be back with more. It’s just that great.

Dinosaur Mardi Gras Trailer

Remember the Picture Book Month trailer?

Once upon a time, Dianne de Las Casas and I decided to team up again to celebrate the release of her vibrant picture book, Dinosaur Mardi Gras. Once upon a time is NOW.

If you like oviraptors, doubloons, parade floats and jazzy tunes, you will LOVE Dinosaur Mardi Gras. The illustrations by Marita Gentry are loose and dreamy and floaty (technical art term of course.) My ultimate goal in creating this trailer? Honoring the story, honoring the pictures. YOU will be in the book, with the dinos, with the floats, with the doubloons, and with the jazzy tunes. Ready?

CHOMP.

ROAR.

Lines That Wiggle

Candace Whitman’s Lines That Wiggle Is. Just. Wow. And illustrator Steve Wilson in his debut performance? More wow.

Lines that wiggle, lines that bend

Wavy lines from end to end

So…what do I love so much?

1) It rhymes. And rhymes well.

2) It’s quirky, quick, and clever.

3) The characters are so adorable that I want to peel them off the page and stick them in my pocket forever. A beret-wearing cat walking dachshunds and wearing a bow tie? Shaggy high-fiving monsters on pink bikes? AN ELEPHANT anxiously crossing a swinging bridge?! Created with few colors, little shading, and lines…they are perfect.

4) The lines that wiggle through the book are raised and rough and fun to touch. And GLITTERY.

5) And unexpected color combinations that feel retro and modern at once.

ELEMENT OF DESIGN: LINE (+ COLOR, + TEXTURE, + JUST PLAIN AMAZING WORK)

The lines in this book are the building blocks of the illustrations. They connect words to pictures. Visual literacy meets traditional literacy. The lines ARE the pictures. Sometimes, they are even the words. Each page on its own is gorgeous enough to remain a solitary piece of art. But we are luckier than that! This is an art gallery that fits in your backpack. Canvas after canvas of portable prints that connect together with words and a story. This is art, manifested in words and pictures bound in a book for a reader to savor and to study. Lines That Wiggle reminds me how much I love words, how much I love images, and how much I love picture books. 

This is me, celebrating Picture Book Month…Stunning little creatures that, not unlike these lines, have wiggled their way into my heart.

Freight Train

Quick but thorough profile of Donald Crews here. {Fun fact: he called his grandmother ‘Bigmama.’}

I love this book. I vividly remember reading it in the library at Ridge Elementary School. I remember it was shelved near The Story of Ping, and I remember plopping down on the blue scratchy carpet until Mrs. Marks begged me to leave. {Fun fact: I am the same age as Freight Train. That’s freight-ening.}

Freight Train describes eight different freight cars in seven pure colors. The primary colors red, yellow, and blue, and the secondary colors orange, green, and violet join the massive black steam engine. The rainbow of cars moves forward throughout the book in a blur of motion. Quick and rhythmic, just like the chugging of the freight train.

DIRECTION

All lines have direction. They can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or rounded/oblique. Generally, horizontal lines suggest calmness, stillness, and lack of motion. Think of a sun setting beneath the ocean, or a lonely road endlessly stretching to the desert sky’s horizon. Freight Train utilizes the horizontal line of the track on every single turn of the page. And yet nothing about this line represents stillness.

Donald Crews turns this notion upside down to visually create motion. Perhaps it is because his subject is a mode of transportation, and the reader expects motion, but I like to think that he intentionally designed this book to make us feel it. His cars fly over the track, through tunnels, by the city, and constantly are going, going,