The Bird King--an artist's notebook, by Shaun Tan (Arthur A. Levine Books, 128 pages, technically out Feb. 1, but in stock at Amazon now....)
It is just what the title promises--a notebook of drawings and paintings, culled from twelve years of scribbles, works in progress, and practice pictures. Some are just for fun, some were the start of stories, and some are images from stories or illustrations in progress. In the author's note, Tan says that each piece was done in a single sitting of less than two hours, and so they have a spontaneity and joy to them--and this is what makes me want to break out the colored pencils and play too.
Many of the pictures in the book, although things of joy in themselves, would also work very nicely as story prompts, something that Tan finds holds true for himself as well: "While there is no set meaning in any of these drawings, there is an invitation to seek one..." (page 3), and this in part how The Lost Thing and The Arrival came to be. I think many of the pictures may be too dark or creepy to share with younger kids--some are a little nightmarish, what with tentacles and such, but for those who have, say, a 12 year old on hand (as I just happen to do), it's awfully fun to look at them together, wondering what is going on and what on earth will happen next.....
In short, this notebooks if full of little mechanical marvels and strange creatures and sketches and paintings from life that are quite lovely. The book itself, qua book, has a lovely solidity to it's binding--it's one of those very pleasing type of books that makes one want to give it as a gift.
Here is the picture that tickled me most, entitled Summoning:
This post is my contribution to today's Nonfiction Monday round-up, hosted at LibrariYAn.
(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)