The Horn Book’s publications don’t typically review books from the UK, but when several intriguing titles from a new imprint crossed my desk, I thought they deserved mention.
Flying Eye Books, a children’s book imprint of UK publisher Nobrow Press, started up in February of 2013 with the goal “to bring you the most beautifully designed, entertaining, collectible, cherishable (not perishable!) and wonder-filled books you could wish for” (according to their website). True to that mission, their books are very high quality: their paper and binding choices improve the tactile reading experience and support the lovely art. Here are a few titles I particularly like.
Hilda and the Troll by Luke Pearson tells the story of an artistic Scandinavian girl as she explores the unknown wilderness around her house, encountering a blue fox with antlers, the mysterious “wood man,” and (you guessed it!) a troll. The art is as whimsical as the protagonist, and the bright colors enhance this comic book’s magical-realistic effect. The sequel, Hilda and the Bird Parade, is featured on the NYT Notable Children’s Books of 2013 list.
Akissi by Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin is another comic about an adventurous young girl, again living in a landscape unfamiliar to many American readers — West Africa. The vignette chapters give glimpses into a Akissi’s day-to-day life without needing to explain or justify, opening cultural horizons for young readers, who will identify with the feisty protagonist. The book was originally published in French.
Wild by Emily Hughes relies on its lush, almost rough art to convey a story about belonging and being different. When a little girl raised in the woods is taken into “civilized” society, mayhem and torn upholstery follow in her wake. The humor will appeal to the rebellious spirit of any child (maybe too much so?) and the details of the illustrations warrant many readings.
And finally, my favorite:
Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space by Dr. Dominic Walliman and Ben Newman is a big, colorful book with a heavy mod, space-race influence in the illustration. Cute characters (such as the titular Professor Astro Cat and his assistant Astro Mouse) give a humorous, conversational tone to this nonfiction book’s information about space, our solar system, and changing space exploration technology. Like the text, the book’s browsable layout encourages readers to keep exploring. Overall, a great book to nurture interest in and wonder at the infinite possibilities of space.