Little Panda is the first ever picture book written and illustrated by the magnificent by Renata Liwska. Liwska is the illustrator of The Quiet Book, a brilliant must-buy. Little Panda is a story within a story, reminiscent of Jon J Muth's wonderful picture book, Zen Shorts, both for her use of panda bears and stories that teach. Little Panda begins in a playful way with a seemingly outlandish tale:
Just the other day, grandfather Panda was talking to his grandson. I'm going to tell you a story of a little panda and a tiger that flew,' he said. "But that's silly. Tigers can't fly," interrupted the grandchild. "How do you know if you haven't heard the story yet?" asked Grandfather.
The story of Bao Bao and his mother Lin Lin is what follows. Bao Bao spends his time climbing trees, playing chase and falling down, always under the guidance of Lin Lin. However, “Playing was not just for fun. It was also the way Lin Lin taught Bao Bao important panda lessons.” One day, when Lin Lin must travel far from home for bamboo for them to eat, she leaves Bao Bao asleep in a tree, which she warns him might be a bit too slender for a growing panda. This proves true when a tiger comes along and makes his way up the tree. Luck on the part of Bao Bao and springiness on the part of the tree combine to make a tiger fly!
I am enamored of Renata Liwksa and her storytelling skills, both visually and verbally. I have no doubt that she will become part of the canon of classic children's picture books and that in 20+ years, adults who loved her work when they were children will still be able to find it on the shelves of bookstores to read to their children. Liwska is very generous with sharing her creative process and, for those of you who have a creative bent, her blog Pandas and Such is a wealth of photos of her sketches as well as photos of her sketching - makes me want to run out and buy a(nother) Moleskine notebook and a mechanical pencil!!!
Also, Renata likes to make holiday cards, and there are some very adorable ones to take a gander at.
Besides being a talented artist, Renata is a talented crafter, as this little bear, Alberto, demonstrates.
Finally, Renarta Liwska is the wife of illustrator Mike Kerr and together they have a website called uwaga, which means "attention" in Polish, and features their works. Below is an illustration of the letter F by Mike.