Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘children’s books’

05 SEPTEMBER, 2013

The Creators of ‘Go the Fuck to Sleep’ on Werner Herzog’s Irreverent Reading

By:

One cultural icon’s rendition of another.

With his distinctive diction and almost-ironic gravitas of tone, celebrated German director Werner Herzog, who celebrates his seventy-first birthday this year, has spawned a number of amusing parodic voiceovers. But his reading of the hipster classic Go the Fuck to Sleep (public library) is very much real and timelessly delightful in every possible way:

In this discussion at LIVE from the NYPL — the wonderful event series masterminded by Paul Holdengräber that gave us the 7-word autobiographies of cultural icons — Holdengräber talks to GTFTS author Adam Mansbach and illustrator Ricardo Cortés about the book’s subtler cultural commentary, the art of cover design, and what it’s like to have Herzog read their book and for that reading to become a classic in its own right:

This little picture book is the physical manifestation of ­parental-impostor syndrome. You’re not even good enough at being a parent to get a break from being a parent. Shouldn’t you know how to make this little person go to bed?

Go the Fuck to Sleep was followed by Seriously, Just Go to Sleep. Cortés has since branched out into visual journalism with the fantastic A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola, which was among the best graphic nonfiction of 2012.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

04 SEPTEMBER, 2013

The Provensens’ Gorgeous Vintage Illustrations of Aesop’s Fables

By:

Timeless visual exorcism of our greatest moral shortcomings, bridging antiquity and today.

Predating both Arabian Nights and the Grimm fairy tales by centuries, the fables of Aesop, an ancient Greek slave and storyteller who lived between 620 and 560 BCE, endure as some of humanity’s most influential narratives. “He made use of humble incidents to teach great truths,” wrote the Greek philosopher Philostratus of Aesop, and indeed these fables explore the most complex facets of human morality and its failings — deceit, greed, vanity, impatience, egotism, cowardice — through seemingly simple stories featuring animal protagonists. The fables themselves weren’t recorded in writing during Aesop’s lifetime and how exactly they made their way from ancient Greece to world domination remains uncertain. Though the core morality tales have endured over the centuries, the stories have been retold and reimagined over and over, and among the most magical aspects of their constant reinvention has been the art that has accompanied them.

There is hardly a more wonderful, or better-matched, visual take on the tales than that by Alice and Martin Provensen, whose gift for translating history’s greatest storytelling into visual magic spans from Homer to classic fairy tales to William Blake.

In 1965, nearly a decade after their adaptation of the Iliad and Odyssey, they illustrated Louis Untermeyer’s version of Aesop’s Fables (public library) — sadly, another ghost from the cemetery of out-of-print gems, but one summoned back to life here for a new round of admiration and appreciation, thanks to my own surviving copy of the magnificent tome and some generous friends’ large-format scanner. From The Boy Who Cried Wolf to The Fox and the Grapes to The Tortoise and the Hare to The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs, these familiar, beloved tales shine with uncommon warmth and wisdom under the Provensens’ vibrant touch and expressive elegance.

Aesop’s Fables is sublime in its entirety, and the few remaining copies still findable online and off are very much worth the scavenger hunt.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.

03 SEPTEMBER, 2013

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild: A Charming Modern-Day Fable about Authenticity and Acceptance

By:

Exorcising our repressed selves’ longing for freedom through lovely vintage-inspired illustrations.

Lovers of exceptional picture-books will be instantly enamored with Mr. Tiger Goes Wild (public library) by Caldecott Honor artist Peter Brown — a charming modern-day fable about authenticity, daring to be different, and the often challenging quest for acceptance. Witty, wise, and full of Brown’s vibrant, vintage-inspired illustrations reminiscent of Charley Harper and The Provensens, it tells the story of a very proper Mr. Tiger who finds himself suffocated by social mores and, one fine day, decides to go wild. To craft the book’s distinctive, expressive sensibility, which bears a certain kinship to D. B. Johnson’s recently admired children’s adaptation of Thoreau’s philosophy, Brown blends watercolor, ink, pencil, and digital with a masterful sensitivity to color and texture.

On his Facebook page, Brown shares this lovely page of his sketchbook — a fine addition to the private sketchbooks of celebrated artists and designers — showing the very first Mr. Tiger drawing he made when he first began working on the book, followed by some character development sketches:

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is just as delightful as it appears to be. It comes on the heels of Brown’s 2012 collaboration with author Aaron Reynolds, Creepy Carrots.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.