I think spending was in my astrology last week, and since I obviously ‘went with the stars’ I’m just happy I spent my pennies wisely–on books! Oh how I love books. And oh, how I splurged! They all arrived yesterday, and I’ve been reading them (some several times) and looking at all the illustrations and every little detail and feeling so inspired. I know they’ll be great inspiration as I begin work on my next book. I’m feeling so happy and honored to join these artists on the bookshelf, but I have to say, I’m in awe of them (and so many others) and really thankful I have them as ‘mentors’ in a way. I’m soaking up all I can from them…So, in this batch of wonders, we have:

The WALL, Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis. This was the first book I dove into, and I couldn’t put it down for over an hour. Peter Sis ROCKS. He’s one of my heroes for sure. All his books are fascinating–his so-detailed drawings and unique storytelling, but this book is his story–about growing up in communist Czechoslovakia under the iron rule of the Soviets–iron as in forceful, gray and dull, and also scary and full of lies. It’s also about a little boy who loved to draw (from his very beginning) and who was told ‘what’ to draw until he discovered there was much more to draw in life behind the wall. His world became as tall as the sky, and his dreams and imagination grew just as big. And still, itt’s about so much more…but his pictures and select words tell it much better than I ever could. Just go read the book yourself. Oh, and listen to this interview with him, too…

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein. WOW. WOAH. I had no idea…I mean, well, I was only 7 weeks old on August 7, 1974. This one came by recommendation from my friend Anne who said I had to get it. Good thing I listened. It is an awesome (and TRUE) story about Phillipe Petit, (a juggler and tight rope walker extraordinaire) who dreamed about, felt destined to, and really did walk across a rope between the twin towers! And, not only did he walk, he danced, too, for over an hour! I was also taken by surprise at how nauseous I felt when reading about and watching him do it (in the illustrations)! I don’t think I have ever physically felt so scared of heights before in my life…it was strange. And Gerstein’s illustrations have SO much energy and courage and determination, just like Phillipe. I also thought it was beautiful the way he simply wrote at the end (about the towers), “Now the towers are gone,” with a present day drawing of the New York skyline, “but in memory, as if imprinted on the sky, they are still there.” Mmmm, another must-have…obviously, it won the Caldecott!

The Sound of Colors by Jimmy Liao. I saw this book first in a book store last year and was so taken by it that I sat down Indian-style in the small kid’s book section and looked at it for 45 minutes or so. It is just a beautiful, beautiful (yes double beautiful) story about a young blind girl who takes a ride on a subway, and how every sound she hears paints a world for her in her head. OH! It’s so..mmmmm…beautiful! (sorry, it just is…!)

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and illustrated by Jules Feiffer. (This one is 256 pages so I haven’t read it yet, but I’m excited to.) I was talking with the owner of a way cool bookstore 2 weeks ago, and he mentioned that this author/illustrator duo is coming to his store for an event. I was a little quiet on my end of the phone (feeling a little dumb) thinking I wasn’t sure who these ‘guys’ were although I probably should know. So I asked, and he told me–and that I should read the book. SO, alas, at age 33, and I’m reading it! Just diving right in…!

What Pete Ate by Maira Kalman. Oh, you know Maira. I’m not sure what else I can say about her and her writing and paintings that hasn’t already been said. She makes me read aloud! And giggle the whole time. My tongue has the best time rolling over her word combos. My eyes get really wide and my mind thinks, “how does she think up these things?!” Yep, she’s another hero of mine. She’s someone I’d love to spend a day with…Oh, this old favorite of hers I’m waiting for, too. I want them all.

This is New York by M. Sasek. This one joins the other 3 others in ‘my’ M. Sasek collection: This is London, This is Hong Kong, and This is Ireland. His drawings are incredible, his approach both realistic and naive, his attitude playful, and his choice of material, funny and informative. He’s been a hero of mine for years and years. (And, I think he made the ultimate job for himself of traveling the world and recording it all.) I must confess I’ve spent many hours in my life, day dreaming about being his grand daughter (ha ha, I know) and carrying on his legacy and traveling the world, city by city, creating more books of “This is –.” At the top of ‘my’ list would be, This is Kathmandu, This is Benares, This is Quito, This is Santiaog, This is Rabat…and so on…

Well, hope this post wasn’t too long–I am just so excited and wanted to share! And please, please, share what new book treasures you’ve purchased or read lately! (of any genre…kids, art, memoirs, etc.) I’ve got this growing list of ‘must haves’…