This week's selection of hardcover picture books all have watercolor or gouache illustrations. Gouache, for those who don't know, is a kind of paint similar to watercolor. It comes in little tubes and when you mix the paint with water to a pudding consistency, it can be applied to paper in areas that dry matte and flat. If you mix additional water in, the gouache will look exactly the same as watercolor. Gouache is often used for concept art for animations. Mary Blair, who did development artwork for Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, used gouache in her paintings for the Disney movies. Some of these paintings have been collected into books: Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland by Scieszka and Walt Disney's Peter Pan by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson. Now that we've had a media lesson, on to some picture books.
Beaver is Lost by Elisha Cooper
This story is told entirely in watercolor illustrations, a bit like David Wiesner's Tuesday, though Cooper's illustrations are much looser and more fluid than the intricacies of Wiesner's.
A little beaver floats away from his family on a log. He ends up at the dock of a lumber company where he is chased by a dog, he goes through a swimming pool, around a zoo, through a pond, through the streets, and finally swims home after his adventure. The looseness of the paintings give the book an almost dream-like quality. A few of my coworkers looked through the book, commenting on beaver's adventure as they went; I am sure children will do the same, reading the illustrations as they go. Those familiar with the skyline of Chicago will be able to pick out the specific location of each scene.
Biblioburro: A True Story from Columbia by Jeanette Winter
This picture book is based on a true story and features vibrant gouache illustrations.
Luis' house is so full of books there is barely room for him! So he loads the books on two burros and sets out to bring the books to people in other villages. On the way he meets a bandit. Having no silver, Luis gives the bandit a book and continues on. In the village he reads a book and passes around books to all the children before continuing home. This simple book celebrates the act of sharing books and reading. Winter's illustrations are bright and colorful and the texture of the watercolor paper she used comes through to make them almost appear as fabric collages. This book is great for even the youngest book lover.
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle illustrated by Jill McElmurry
This story is told entirely in rhyme with watercolor and gouache illustrations. A little blue truck drives down the road, beeping at the different animals it passes. When a yellow dump truck barrels by and gets stuck in the mud, everyone goes to help out, from the blue truck to a frog. Children will help out by chiming in on the sound effects, a job made easier as each onomatopoeic word is written in large type and color-coded. Additionally, this book delivers a message of helping people, even if they might not do the same for you at first (do unto others).