Picturebook Trio: A Night Gardener, a Gryphon, and a Whisper

Posted February 15, 2017 by What Katie Read in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Genres: Picturebooks

There are picturebooks…and then there are Picturebooks. I bring Three special titles to you today.

THE NIGHT GARDENER

This picturebook might be my favorite picturebook of 2016. THE NIGHT GARDENER is absolutely gorgeous in its design, word/image interaction, and limited but rich textual narrative. It is a gift waiting for the reader to open, and I would not be surprised to hear that others have had profound experiences with this story.

First, I noticed that the way the book opened was unique. Whereas in other stories there might be a buildup to a grand event, this narrative stepped into its beginning rather quickly—in fact, on the second page. At the same time, the build up begins with the extra-textual materials of the book, which I loved. The copyright page itself features an important double page spread.

In other words, the book designers don’t waste any space in advancing and illuminating the meaning of the narrative.

And there are multiple meanings one might take away from this gem of a book by the Fan Brothers.

For example, the Night Gardener is bringing a kind of reformation and revival of beauty to the small town in the book. But two characters are affected in the story—our protagonist, William, and then the town as a whole. First, William is awed by the work of the Night Gardener and eventually pursues and finds him, deciding to help him in his work. Then, William plays a role in continuing the important work of the Night Gardener within the town. The magic and beauty and wonder that the Night Gardener brings through his “transformations” and “works of art” begin to change everyone—in a lasting way. There is a lot more to say about this simple and yet profound story, but I’ll stop there.

IF I HAD A GRYPHON

This book is actually written by a friend of mine, Vikki Vansickle, whom I met in Toronto when she was a bookseller! What we both shared in common is that we had both completed an MA in Children’s Literature and we always had wonderful bookish chats when we met. I’m absolutely thrilled to say that If I Had a Gryphon is lovely, charming, and whimsically wonderful!

The rhyme and rhythm of the narrative pairs perfectly with the pictures, and there is much to see in these illustrations! Whimsical, bright, and vivid—these illustrations pop off the page and pull you into the dreamlife of our protagonist. The fact that the story is told in verse adds another enjoyable aspect to the book.

Read the words out loud and you’ll be captivated by their rhythm, humor, and ability to bring these mythical creatures to life on the page. Poetry for young people can sometimes be daunting and hard to understand, but the rhymes of this book remove any stress related to poetry and provide a fantastic experience with verse. Sometimes a poetry book might have stellar illustrations but mediocre text, or wonderful text, but pictures that are not as strong as they might be. If I Had a Gryphon receives gold stars on both fronts!

THE WHISPER

The Whisper is a new addition to my school library and it is gorgeous! Whimsical, imaginative, and full of wonder, this gem of a picturebook tells a story that invites endless interpretations and curiosity. Its cover boasts a girl in a red hood, holding an open book with a crown on its cover, a crown floating above the girl’s head and also a fox at her side. A bunch of grapes hover over the fox’s head, slipping in an intertextual reference to Aesop’s fables (a preview of something that will happen later in the story).

Everything about the book promises a luxurious experience—pictures filled with detail that will keep you reading for a long while, and if you are looking for an opportunity to create your own stories, you will look no further. The endpapers alone kick off the story and provide a puzzle for the reader to unlock. My favorite part in the story is the double page spread at the beginning when the girl is rushing home with the special book on loan to her from her teacher. The fox balances on a wheel as he “scoops” up the words of the story in his net.

Each picture in the book invites its own narrative…or all the stories connected? No matter—your imagination is the key to unlock it all, and it becomes a marvelous experience the more you read.

Why is it called The Whisper? Well, you’ll just have to find out.

Have you read any of these picturebooks from 2016? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please tell me what you thought of these beautiful titles!

What Katie Read

If We Were Having Coffee (V..

If We Were Having Coffee (Valentine’s Day Edition)

Hello, Friends! It’s been awhile, but I’m incredibly happy to share a new blog post with you today. And I hope you’re excited because….we’re going out for coffee. **The “If We Were Having Coffee” feature came from Jamie at Perpetual Page Turner, who actually discovered it on another blog. If we were having coffee, I would hope you had […]

Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-..

Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: Mid Event Survey

Well, Hello There! It’s Hour 12 of Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon, and though I won’t be able to stay up for all 24 hours, I at least am making the most of what I can stay up for, and decided to share with you my Mid Event Survey. The day has been fantastic so far […]

Posted October 22, 2016 by What Katie Read in blogger events, readathon / 0 Comments

STAR SO SWEET Blog Tour �..

STAR SO SWEET Blog Tour & Giveaway: A Delicious Finale!

Gladys Gatsby is back! And this time it’s in the final installment of the ALL FOUR STARS foodie Middle Grade trilogy by Tara Dairman. You know I (and many others) adored the first two books, ALL FOUR STARS and A SUMMER OF STARS. July 19th, 2016 will see the publication of STARS SO SWEET, and […]

Posted July 12, 2016 by What Katie Read in blog tour, Book Reviews / 19 Comments

#TopTenTuesday: Favorite 20..

#TopTenTuesday: Favorite 2016 Releases So Far This Year

You might have noticed that 2016 has already seen a huge number of excellent, intriguing, and unique books published, especially in the Middle Grade and YA genres. This week the goal is to share our Top Ten Favorite 2016 releases, and I can say this is definitely a fantastic way to start off the summer […]

Posted June 21, 2016 by What Katie Read in Memes, Top Ten Tuesday / 3 Comments

A Middle Grade Marvel: ALL ..

A Middle Grade Marvel: ALL RISE FOR THE HONORABLE PERRY T. COOK

Don’t let this book escape your grasp! What I Loved I loved PERRY T. COOK! What a wonderful, kind, compassionate, and creative eleven year old. I had no idea just how much I would adore this book and Perry’s journey. When the book opens, Perry has spent the first eleven years of his life in […]

Posted May 16, 2016 by What Katie Read in Book Reviews / 1 Comment

Kate DiCamillo Returns: RAY..

Kate DiCamillo Returns: RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE

It’s high time I shared my thoughts with you about the new Kate DiCamillo book. Let me say this—when I heard a new book by Kate was coming out, my level of excitement spiked! You know that I adore her books, including THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE, THE MAGICIAN’S ELEPHANT, and THE TALE OF […]

Posted May 12, 2016 by What Katie Read in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

Read-a-thon Alert!! #Boutof..

Read-a-thon Alert!! #BoutofBooks 16: May 9th-15th

HEY THERE! I know I’ve been MIA lately because of: busy School Librarian job, moving, going to Library School at the same time, moving, and trying to remain sane! But here I am, and I have been reading loads of books. The challenge is keeping up with the blog, but I’ve got some wonderful posts […]

#TopTenTuesday: Ten Books I..

#TopTenTuesday: Ten Books I Love and Haven’t Talked about In Awhile…

It’s the day to discuss the books we all adore but just haven’t chatted about enough lately…this isn’t hard to do and I hope you enjoy my post on ten books that are close to my heart…and now…not far from my mind. This weekly meme is hosted by The Broke and Bookish—check out their blog […]

Posted March 22, 2016 by What Katie Read in Memes, Top Ten Tuesday / 4 Comments

A Dream Come True: Kate Mor..

A Dream Come True: Kate Morton Visits BOSTON!!

I know I’m a bit late on telling you about this BUT: December 2015 was an epic month because….THE KATE MORTON BOOK SIGNING IN BOSTON!! Can you believe that at the end of last year I heard Kate Morton speak, spoke to her, and had four of my books signed!?!?! It was an epic evening—Kate’s […]

Posted March 21, 2016 by What Katie Read in Author Events / 5 Comments