Skip to main content

The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska




The Quiet Book and The Loud Book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Renata Liwska are two of my all-time favorite picture books. Published in 2010 and 2011, they have the feel of a classic picture book while at the same time taking an idea that feels familiar and presenting it in a fresh and timeless way. After hearing Deborah Underwood's talk titled "The Power of Quiet" at the 2012 SCBWI LA conference (follow the link for more thoughts on Underwood's talk) I have an even greater appreciation for what she has accomplished with these books. Having read thousands of picture books in my life, and now reading manuscripts of authors who hope to publish their picture books, I can tell you definitively that writing a good picture book is nowhere near as easy as so many people assume it is and, in fact, writing a picture book that is entertaining, thoughtful has lasting value is absurdly difficult - not to mention finding just the right artist to illustrate it!  As Jon Klassen said in his speech when he accepted the 2012 Boston Globe Horn Book Picture Book Award for Extra Yarn, written by Mac Barnett, "Picture books are at their best suggestive," meaning that the picture books that resonate most with readers, that are remembered  well into adulthood, are those that present an idea in a way that encourages readers to use their imaginations and run with it. That can be said of Klassen's books as well as Underwood and Liwska's, The Christmas Quiet Book securing their place on the shelf of greatness.


The Quiet Book and The Loud Book are creatively clever catalogs of the different kinds of quiet ("Right before you yell 'Surprise!' quiet," and "Fireworks loud") that can start conversations or, depending on your timing, put little listeners to sleep. As with my review of the first two books, I don't want to divulge too many details because these books are such a delight to discover on one's own, but I can tell you that the holiday season, while filled with joy and exuberance, is also perfect for the kinds of quiet that Underwood and Liwska bring us in the The Christmas Quiet Book. There is "Knocking with mittens quiet" and all the other kinds of hushed moments that come with the snowy weather. Even those of us who live in warmer climates where it never snows can appreciate "Searching for presents quiet," "Getting caught quiet,"as well as "Shattered ornament quiet," and "Note to Santa quiet." Underwood and Liwska capture the moments of the season that make it memorable, warm and special, making The Christmas Quiet Book one that you will want to give as a gift and keep for your own family and those times of "Reading by the fire quiet."

As with The Loud Book, my favorite image from The Christmas Quiet Book is this overheard view of the critters and the tree, "Lights on Quiet." Be sure to visit Renata's wonderful blog  The Quiet Blog for excellent glimpses into the life of an artist! She shows sketches from her many Moleskine's (she is even in a sketch club!) and talks about the process of creating a book as well as sharing images from picture books that she buys and loves. She also has some lovely pictures of the various cafes and cups of coffee and tea where she sketches, making the life of a picture book illustrator seem VERY romantic...

Source: Review Copy

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!

Be…