Monday, November 02, 2009

NonFiction Monday: Texas Bluebonnet List Picture Book Biographies

The Texas Bluebonnet List for 2010-2011 was announced by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett at the Texas Book Festival this past weekend.

Not one, but, TWO picture book biographies are on the list which is unusual and acknowledges the excellence of the books and the import and novelty of their subjects. Interestingly both books are about two men who made mark on the world via the oceans!

Surfer of the Century by Ellie Crowe, illustrations by Richard Waldrep, Lee & Low Books, 2007

Duke Kahanamoku was an Olympic gold medalist, the father of modern surfing, and an icon of Hawaiian culture. popularized surfing and promoted Hawaii all his life.

Richard Waldrep perfectly illustrates the book with wondrous, glowing illustrations that evoke vintage art deco travel posters.

My full BookMoot review is here.

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino, Knopf, 2009

With every line and every stroke of color, Dan Yaccarino tells the story of the life of Jacques Cousteau. The text rounds out the story but, truly, the illustrations do all the heavy lifting here.

To my baby boomer eyes, his style is retro or modern in the sense that it evokes graphics and cartoon style of the 1960s but it is also wholly fresh.

His sinuous and linear drawings are simple yet detailed. Yaccarino captures the distinctive Cousteau aquiline nose in every drawing, even the ones of him as a child. The two page spread of his ship Calypso is drawn with simple shapes and flat colors yet the almost indistinct shapes of the sailors on deck are altogether French with their characteristic berets and striped shirts.
The fluid lines invoke the ocean Cousteau is discovering. His color palette with incised designs imparts the look of batik prints.

Eloquent quotations from Jacques Cousteau himself appear in a round bubble on each page.

"The best way to observe a fish is to become a fish"

Elegant storytelling this!

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