Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Two stunning books from yesteryear brought back to life by Bodleian Publishing

We've long been champions of brilliantly reprinted classic children's books on the blog and there seems to be a huge surge of interest in books that you, your parents or even your grandparents remember from their childhood being shared with a whole new generation...
For book blogging folk like us, it's fantastic to showcase books that - without a doubt - have had such a massive effect on the way children's publishers, authors and illustrators work to make children's publishing a mighty force in book sales.

The Bodleian Library curates what is arguably the most incredible collection of children's books on the planet, and it's fantastic to see them reprinting books from an era when artists and authors were really pioneering in the way they thought about what children would actually want from a book, rather than relying on tradition.

So we have two utterly stunning books to talk about today, beautifully reprinted and presented in cloth-bound hardback covers. One authored by Suzanne Gottlieb and one by Charlotte Zolotow - both infamous pioneers of the children's picture book format and both responsible for a huge volume of amazing publications between them. With art from Vladimir Bobri in both cases, let's first take a look at "What is Red?" by Suzanne Gottlieb.

We meet Little Jonny, an inquisitive little boy exploring the world, pondering the meaning of colours as he explores the landscape around his home. 

Younger children can learn along with Jonny as he dips his toes into a blue brook, picks purple violets, digs a hole in the brown earth and finds an enormous orange pumpkin!

Vladimir Bobri's illustrations fuse beautifully with Suzanne's simple but hugely effective story. It's easy to see how "What is Red?" became the template for so many other books about learning colours for generations to come. 

"What is Red?" by Suzanne Gottlieb and Vladimir Bobri is available now from Bodleian Publishing. 

We're also lucky enough to be able to take a look at the glorious "Sleepy Book", this time written by Charlotte Zolotow with illustrations again by Vladimir Bobri. This time we're getting ready for a good night's sleep, snuggling down with a simple story of a little boy getting ready for bed. 

But before he drops off, he muses on what other animals do. Do fish sleep down in the murky depths of the sea? How do birds sleep? What about farm animals? 

This gentle lullaby of a book is a gorgeous little nightcap before your little ones tuck in tight and snuggle down. Once again an amazing book that has been much admired and imitated by other authors for many years. 

"Sleepy Book" by Charlotte Zolotow and Vladimir Bobri is out now, published by Bodleian Publishing. 

(Both books kindly supplied for review)