Sunday, February 8, 2015

Children's Author and Illustrator Week: Imagination

Like most adults who refuse to grow up, I have an incurable case of Imagination. On any given day I consider applying to Hogwarts to teach Muggle Studies or wonder if today will finally be the day my closet exposes a secret entrance to Narnia. A side effect of this chronic affliction is that I have an unusual fascination with fairy tales and all things mythical, strange, and/or imaginary.
So it should not come as a surprise to anyone that books about fairy tales, adaptations of fairy tales, or anything remotely whimsical hold a special place in my heart. One moment I can be a princess knight successfully battling a fire-breathing dragon with insufficient weapons and the other, a down-on-her-luck maid who just inherited the nicest fairy godmother. I can learn more about the adventurous lives of unicorns or I can read about a kindhearted gorgon who is just misunderstood by everyone else in the village. Books that make us think in unique or magical ways are necessary for those of us with Imagination to survive.
Do not fear, dear reader, if you too suffer from Imagination you can live a happy and normal life. Below, I have listed my favorite fairytale/mythical/imagination creature books that you should take a look at: 
  • Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-Ups by Stephanie Clarkson, illustrated by Brigette Barrager: This book explores the ramifications of taking beloved fairytale characters out of the world they know and transporting them into a completely new fairytale. Snow White is tired of cleaning up after dwarfs. Cinderella has no interest in going to the ball. Sleeping Beauty has too much energy to sleep. Rapunzel has been locked away too long and seeks freedom. What happens when the fairy tale heroines you know break free of the confines of their stories and venture into uncharted territory? A mess. That's what happens. 
  • Uni the Unicorn by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Brigette Barrager: This book if for anyone who ever had a dragon as a pen pal or had a griffin living in your backyard. You believed when everyone else told you they didn't exist. The main character of this book is a unicorn who believes wholeheartedly that little girls exist somewhere out there in the world and though everyone tells her little girls are mythical, this unicorn knows that one day she will prove them all wrong.
  • Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen: "How did a book about two boys digging a hole end up on this list?" you ask. Good question. It is partially because I (and my fellow kidsmith booksellers) LOVE Mac Barnett and partially because this book is strange and wonderful and if you pay close attention you will see that this book is, in fact, one that begs you to use your imagination. It's possible this book ends in different dimension than the one it started in. It's possible something else strange and wonderful happens. The ending is dependent on your imagination and is likely different for everyone.
  • Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon: Dory, given the silly moniker Rascal by her family, has the imagination of ten people. Her entire story is fancied. She has a best friend named Mary who is her accomplice in everything she does. Mary is a monster. Her fairy godmother, Mr. Nuggy pops in when needed to assist Rascal when she decides that she no longer wants to be a little girl but a puppy instead. Ms. Gobble Gracker who gets her start as a prank by Rascal's siblings quickly evolves into quite the fearsome foe for Rascal but with the help of Mary and Mr. Nuggy, Ms. Gobble Gracker is no match for her!
  • The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy: This book takes fairy tales as you know them and completely flips them on their heads. It follows four princes charming from familiar fairy tales as they embark on an adventure together. Cinderella's prince, Frederick, is afraid to leave the castle and when she goes off in search of an adventure, he reluctantly goes after her and meets Rapunzel's prince, Gustav, whose pride is wounded because Rapunzel saved him. More brawn than brains, Gustav ends up on traveling with Fredrick where they run into Sleeping Beauty's prince, Liam, who is the ideal "Prince Charming" though, come to find out, his reputation is built on a lie and Snow White's prince, Duncan, who is a little dimwitted and has a fascination with naming any woodland creature he spots...even in the middle of a battle with a dragon.
I could go on. There are a million and five fantastic books for those of us with Imagination. Stop in the store and find me. I can recommend plenty more. For now I have to go. I've just spotted a white rabbit disappearing down a rabbit hole shouting about being late and I must follow him.

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