21 NOVEMBER, 2011 Maria Popova
From evil stepmothers to Edward Gorey, or what Richard Dawkins has to do with Hindu deities.
THE FAIRY TALES OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM
The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, part of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register for the preservation of cultural documents, have been delighting and terrifying children since 1812, transfixing generations of parents, psychologists, and academics. The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm is an astounding new volume from Taschen editor Noel Daniel bringing together the best illustrations from 130 years of The Brothers Grimm with 27 of the most beloved Grimm stories....
The new translation is based on the final 1857 edition of the tales, and stunning silhouettes from original publications from the 1870s and 1920s grace the tome’s pages, alongside brand new silhouettes created bespoke for this remarkable new volume.
Full review, with more images, here.
I LIKE CATS
Earlier this year, we featured The Night Life of Trees — an incredible handmade book based on Indian mythology, crafted by a commune of artists, designers and writers in South Indian independent publisher Tara Books’ fair-trade workshop in Chennai. Among Tara’s many other treats is the exceptional I Like Cats — part lovely children’s picture book, part priceless showcase of work by some of the best-known tribal and folk artists from various Indian traditions. Each rich, textured page is screen-printed by hand and features a different cat. (In the vein of this week’s inadvertent running theme of cats — as a piece of Edison’s marketing genius, a key to the future of computing, and now an ambassador of Indian artisanal culture.)
Alongside the images are simple but clever verses of author Anushka Ravishankar for a light touch of playful poetry.
Like other Tara Books gems, I Like Cats comes in several limited-edition runs of 2000 copies, each hand-numbered on the back and featuring a different artwork on the front cover.Original review here.
Who doesn’t love Oliver Jeffers, illustrator extraordinaire and maker of favorite children’s books? This season, he’s back with another treat: Stuck, an absurdly funny “tale of trying to solve a problem by throwing things at it.”
And as with all of Jeffers’ books, buried in his childlike illustrations and light-hearted storytelling is a deeper metaphor for the blessings and curses of the human condition.
The Phantom Tollbooth ....This month marks the 50th anniversary of the beloved classic and there’s hardly a better celebration than The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition — a magnificent volume featuring brief essays from renowned authors, educators, and artists, including Philip Pullman, Suzanne Collins, Jeanne Birdsall, and Mo Willems, alongside the complete original text and illustrations of the book and the now-legendary 35th anniversary essay by Where The Wild Things Are author Maurice Sendak.
Juster’s new picture book, Neville, is also out this year and absolutely delightful.
From French illustrator Blexbolex — whose poetic meditation on time, impermanence and the seasons you might recall from earlier this month — comes People, a continued exploration of the world building on Seasons. Each charmingly matte and papery double-page spread features a full-bleed illustrated vignette that captures the human condition in its diversity, richness and paradoxes.
Original review, with trailer, here.
Images courtesy of Enchanted Lion Books
Every Thing On It is a lovely new book of 137 never-before-seen poems and drawings, only the second posthumous anthology published since Silverstein’s passing in 1999.
A spider lives inside my head
Who weaves a strange and wondrous web
Of silken threads and silver strings
To catch all sorts of flying things,
Like crumbs of thought and bits of smiles
And specks of dried-up tears,
And dust of dreams that catch and cling
For years and years and years . . .
THE MAGIC OF REALITY
Evolutionary biologist... Dawkins brought us his first sort-of-children’s book, The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True — a scientific primer for the world, its magic, and its origin, teaching young readers how to replace creationist mythology with science, and a fine addition to our favorite soft-of-children’s nonfiction.
With beautiful illustrations by graphic artist Dave McKean, ... [e]ach chapter begins with a famous myth from one of the world’s religions or folklore traditions, which Dawkins proceeds to myth-bust by examining the actual scientific processes and phenomena that these stories try to explain.
... Dawkins explores the relationship between comfort and truth, and explains why evolution is the most magical, spellbinding story of all, more poetic than any fable or fairy tale:
When you think about it, here we are, we started off on this planet — this fragment of dust spinning around the sun — and in 4 billion years we gradually changed form bacteria into us. That is a spellbinding story.” ~ Richard Dawkins
Originally reviewed here.
THE BIG POSTER BOOK OF HINDU DEITIES
In 2006, Pixar animator Sanjay Patel self-published The Little Book of Hindu Deities — an impossibly charming illustrated almanac of gods and goddesses....(How’s that for a pick to follow Dawkins?) In August, he followed up with The Big Poster Book of Hindu Deities — not so much a “book” per se as a stunning large-format portfolio of 12 removable full-color posters....
Goodnight iPad — “a parody for the next generation” by Ann Droyd (get it?), winking at the long-gone quiet era of the Goodnight Moon classic and “adapting” it for the age of LCD WiFi HD TVs and Facebook.
Whether Goodnight iPad will go the viral way of its conceptual ilk (hey there, Go the F**k to Sleep) and become a hipster darling is yet to be seen, but one thing is certain: at the heart of this irreverent nursery rhyme, still made very much of paper, is a playful reminder for all of us eternal kids that when the moon goes up, it’s not an entirely terrible idea for the power to go down.
HOW THE WORLD WORKS
Christoph Niemann, whose I LEGO N.Y. topped our favorite children’s books last year, is back this year with another gem: That’s How! — an absolutely lovely invitation to explore the inner workings of the world visually, though the pursuit of what we hold as our highest ideal for navigating life: Reckless, indiscriminate curiosity.
Originally reviewed here.
WHY WE HAVE DAY AND NIGHT
...Edward Gorey, mid-century illustrator of the macabre ..., influenced generations of creators, from Nine Inch Nails to Tim Burton. Eleven years after his death, Gorey still manages to charm us with ... Why We Have Day and Night. In three dozen beautifully minimalist black-and-white illustrations, with plenty of design-nerd-friendly negative space, Gorey and collaborator Peter F. Neumeyer illuminate young readers....fascinating illustrated correspondence with Neumeyer, as the basis for the book:
The envelope, alongside 37 others, 75 typewriter-transcribed letters, and more than 60 postcards and illustrations exchanged between the two collaborators-turned-close-friends between September 1968 and October 1969, can be found in Floating Worlds: The Letters of Edward Gorey and Peter F. Neumeyer —....
Images ©The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust, courtesy of Pomegranate