Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Houdini Box by Brian Selznick - picture books make me feel like drawing

I had a fabulous surprise in the post yesterday. Wrapped in plain brown paper, this book arrived. It was from Sarwat - author of the unputdownable goth lit adventure Devil's Kiss - who has just come back from his triumphant first BEA (marred only by the small matter of being mistaken for a terrorist at the airport in New York).

Sarwat harvested a massive haul of books at BEA which he duly shipped back to London and offered up on his blog on a first come, first served basis. I of course leapt at the offer.

And here it is - The Houdini Box by Brian Selznick, the guy who wrote and illustrated The Invention of Hugo Cabret, winner of the Caldecott Medal. I just stared at it for many long minutes. Check out the illustrations on the inside pages:

The text was sparse and the cross-hatched pen and ink drawings were lush.

I was so bowled over that I grabbed my sketchpad, brushed off the cobwebs and spent the evening drawing.

See what one picture book can do?

Our new Children's Laureate Anthony Browne, writing in today's Education Guardian, said:

Most adults will tell me: "I can't draw!" Children, too, as they get older, say the same thing. Something happens to our creativity as we go through the education process; most of us lose touch with it. A stifling form of self-consciousness invades us, whether it be in drawing, writing, singing or (in my case) dancing...

Just before this unhelpful self-consciousness creeps into children, many of them are encouraged to move away from picture books and move into "chapter books" - books without illustrations. Perhaps there's a connection? Read it all

We need more books like The Houdini Box.

Monday, 15 June 2009

What Matters?

I am so buried in work and hayfever at the moment that this blog is suffering serious neglect. But  I'm trying to keep things going by microblogging on Twitter so do follow me if you want Notes from the Slushpile in mini form.

Meanwhile, here's something that really cheered me up from marketing guru Seth Godin's blog:
  • When you love the work you do and the people you do it with, you matter.
  • When you are so gracious and generous and aware that you think of other people before yourself, you matter.
  • When you leave the world a better place than you found it, you matter.
  • When you continue to raise the bar on what you do and how you do it, you matter.
  • When you teach and forgive and teach more before you rush to judge and demean, you matter.
  • When you touch the people in your life through your actions (and your words), you matter.
  • When kids grow up wanting to be you, you matter.
  • When you see the world as it is, but insist on making it more like it could be, you matter.
  • When you inspire a Nobel prize winner or a slum dweller, you matter.
  • When the room brightens when you walk in, you matter.
  • And when the legacy you leave behind lasts for hours, days or a lifetime, you matter.

Share buttons bottom