Books to Treasure: Beautiful books from Walker Books

Walker Books are renowned for publishing not only great stories, but also producing some beautiful books.  Their books are a pleasure to hold, touch, look at and read and you want to have them on your bookshelf to read whenever you want.  Two of their recent publications are new additions to my bookshelf – East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Jackie Morris and Mysterious Traveller by Mal Peet, Elspeth Graham and P.J. Lynch.

East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Jackie Morris

An extended version of the Norwegian fairy tale, set in the 21st century.

From the moment she saw him, she knew the bear had come for her. How many times had she dreamt of the bear… Now, here he was, as if spelled from her dreams. “I will come with you, Bear,” she said. It is the beginning of an extraordinary journey for the girl. First to the bear s secret palace in faraway mountains, where he is treated so courteously, but where she experiences the bear s unfathomable sadness, and a deep mystery… As the bear s secret unravels, another journey unfolds… a long and desperate journey, that takes the girl to the homes of the four Winds and beyond, to the castle east of the sun, west of the moon.

This is a wee gem of a book that you can carry around with you wherever you go.  Jackie Morris’ gorgeous watercolour illustrations are sprinkled amongst her magical fairy tale retelling.  I love the smaller format of the book as it’s easier to share, but you don’t loose the magic of the illustrations.  It’s the perfect book for those young and old who love folk tales and fairy tales.

Mysterious Traveller by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham, illustrated P.J. Lynch.

A moving and beautifully researched story about camels, lost princesses and the strength of wisdom and knowledge.

This is the second tale in a trilogy from acclaimed storytellers Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham. This tale begins with a disgruntled camel, desperately trying to protect a little baby from a violent desert storm whipping up all around him. He is rescued by Issa – the desert guide – who takes the child in, naming her Mariama. She becomes Issa’s family and, as he begins to lose his sight, his eyes. Many years later, a mysterious stranger arrives at their doorstep, a stranger who will change both their lives for ever.

Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham are gifted storytellers who have woven a touching tale.  I’ve always loved P.J. Lynch’s illustrations and his illustrations for this story are absolutely stunning.  Like Mariama is the eyes for Issa in this story, P.J. Lynch is the eyes for the reader, creating an image of the characters and showing us the beauty of the land.

Books to Treasure: Around the World in Eighty Days, illustrated by Robert Ingpen

Robert Ingpen has been one of my favourite illustrators since I first set eyes on his illustrated edition of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and Wendy.  Each year, since this first illustrated classic back in 2004, Walker Books Australia have published a classic children’s book illustrated by Robert Ingpen.  My favourite one of these is Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows, because I love the way that he illustrates animals.  Robert Ingpen and Walker Books Australia have just released his latest illustrated classic, Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days.

Set out on a thrilling voyage with the quintessential English gentleman, Phileas Fogg. To fulfil a wager made at the Reform Club in London, Fogg and his newly appointed manservant, Passepartout, embark on the race of a lifetime to circumnavigate the globe in just eighty days! Travelling by steamboat, train, and even elephant, and with adventure around every bend, the intrepid duo find themselves rescuing a young Indian woman from sacrifice, escaping kidnap, and battling hurricane winds and all the while, tenacious Detective Fix of Scotland Yard is in hot pursuit, believing Fogg to be the criminal mastermind behind a Bank of England robbery. Rich in humour and excitement, Around the World in Eighty Days deservedly remains one of Jules Verne’s most popular books.

Robert Ingpen’s Around the World in Eighty Days is an absolutely gorgeous book, and this edition is the perfect way to enjoy this classic adventure tale.  It’s a book that you want to share with a child, sitting in a comfy chair, so that everyone can enjoy Robert Ingpen’s beautiful, atmospheric illustrations.  This edition is a book to treasure because you feel like you’re holding something special in your hands.  Not only has Robert produced illustrations both big and small throughout the book, he has also included sketches of the characters in the front and back, and the end papers are the map of Phileas Fogg’s journey around the world.  The book is also beautifully produced, with lovely thick pages with an aged look, that make you feel like each page is a work of art.

Robert Ingpen has a real skill for illustrating vehicles and there are lots in this story.  Robert also perfectly captures the different countries and cultures in his illustrations.  You can look at the illustrations and tell that he is in India, Japan or America.

Robert Ingpen’s illustrated classics are a wonderful Christmas present for children and adults alike.  Get Around the World in Eighty Days and start your Robert Ingpen collection.

Books to Treasure: Herman and Rosie by Gus Gordon

‘This is a tale about a big city.
It’s a tale of hotdogs and music and the summertime subway breeze.
It’s a tale of singing on rooftops and toffees that stick to your teeth.
But most of all, it’s the tale of Herman and Rosie.’

This wonderful little blurb captures the essence of Gus Gordon’s magnificent new picture book, Herman and Rosie.

From the moment I set eyes on the stunning cover of Herman and Rosie, I fell in love with this book.  Every time I see it I want to read it again. You know that this is a story that Gus loved bringing to life because you can see all the love that has gone into the creation of the book.  Each page is so detailed and filled with different characters.  One of things I love to do in Gus’ books is find all the different characters on each page.  For example, on one page, there’s a bear on a scooter, a fox and a mole in suits, and a mother hippo taking her baby for a walk.   One of the things I especially love about the illustrations in Herman and Rosie is the different media that Gus has used on each page. You can see he has used pencil, crayon, water colour paints, photos of objects, coffee cup stains, bits of newspaper and advertisements, and postcards (among various other bits and pieces).  He’s used all of these different types of media in interesting and imaginative ways to achieve different effects on the page.

The story is all about the two characters of the title and Gus really brings them to life.  I think the reason I love the story so much is because both Herman and Rosie are interesting and quirky characters.  I really like the way that Gus describes them and their likes.  Herman likes ‘pot plants, playing the oboe, wild boysenberry yoghurt, the smell of hotdogs in the winter and watching films about the ocean,’ and Rosie likes ‘pancakes, listening to old jazz records, the summertime subway breeze, toffees that stuck to her teeth, singing on the fire escape…and watching films about the ocean.’  By telling us their likes, we figure out that they’ve got something in common.  It’s a story filled with hope and it and leaves you feeling incredibly happy.  It’s guaranteed to cheer anyone up and put a spring in their step.

Teachers or school librarians who are looking for great picture books for older readers should add Herman and Rosie to their collection.  Older readers will enjoy the story and they’ll love the intricate illustrations.

Herman and Rosie truly is a book to treasure and to read over and over again. It will make your toes tingle and make you feel like you have ‘eaten honey straight from the jar.’

5 out of 5 stars