Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

CHILDREN'S BOOKSHELF

August 20, 1995|MICHAEL CART

Charlotte Zolotow is not only one of the most influential and innovative editor-publishers in the history of literature for young readers, she is also the author of more than 70 much-loved books of her own. Although now retired from publishing, Zolotow continues to write even as her publishers are reissuing new editions of her now-classic picture books. A wonderful case in point is WHEN THE WIND STOPS (HarperCollins: $14.95). Originally published in 1962, this timeless story continues to captivate with its quiet demonstration that the world is not about endings, it is about beginnings. "Nothing ends," a little boy's mother reassures him at bedtime, "it begins in another place or in a different way." Italian artist Stefano Vitale imaginatively shows how this happens in the richly textured, warmly colored illustrations he has created for this new edition. In their dreamlike quality, his pictures are perfect complements to the unhurried serenity of Zolotow's lyrical text.

For long-suffering kids one thing that never seems to end, but only begins again (and again!), is school. In less than a month youngsters will be back in their classrooms offering up traditional reports of summer activities but few will match young Wallace Bleff's for sheer imagination. In HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION (Crown: $16), author-illustrator Mark Teague shares Wallace's rambunctious, rhyming account of his capture, while on vacation, by cowboys ("a wild-looking crowd, their manners were rough and their voices were loud") and his subsequent transformation into " 'Kid Bleff,' a first-rate cowhand." As in previous books ("The Field Beyond the Outfield," "Pigsty," etc.), the talented Teague once again serves up a spirited salute in words and laugh-out-loud funny pictures to the larger-than-life power of imagination.

The picture-book form is sometimes too slight to allow the creation of multidimensional characters. A memorable exception is Helen V. Griffith's wise and wonderfully witty Grandaddy. In GRANDADDY'S STARS (Greenwillow: $15), her fourth book about the doings of this lovable creation, Griffith takes him from his rural Georgia digs to the big city of Baltimore for a visit to doting granddaughter Janetta. As in earlier volumes, celebrated New Yorker cartoonist James Stevenson provides ink and watercolor drawings that capture both Grandaddy's understated wit and the sweet spirit of Griffith's story.

Gifted author-illustrator Petra Mathers recalls a chapter from her own childhood in KISSES FROM ROSA (Apple Soup/Alfred A. Knopf: $16). When her mother goes to the mountains to recover from tuberculosis, Rosa is sent to live with relatives in Germany's Black Forest. Although missing her mother terribly, the girl is quickly caught up by life on the farm and the opportunities it offers for cow-watching, blueberry-picking and cookie-baking. On Sundays she recounts these small adventures in letters to her mother and "in every letter she sent a kiss." Mather's exquisitely colored, full-page pictures brilliantly re-create the reality of this long-ago summer and though the story they depict is specifically hers, it is universal in its reassuring demonstration that kisses can, indeed, make absent loved ones well.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|