Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, January 14, 2013


A book is a gift you can open again and again.
Garrison Keillor

What is it that makes us return to our favorite picture book titles?  Do we go back, even though we know exactly what is going to happen, because the story, the beginning, the middle and the end, is in perfect alignment.  Could it be the words, the narrative, the dialogue, create a kind of song in our minds, painting a picture even without the illustrations?  Or might another visit be due to the stellar artwork, the fresh color palette, intriguing layout and design?

I believe it to be when the combination of all of these is so striking, that not only is the book memorable, but you as a reader sense a kind of magic, a cosmic connection.  When I first lifted the cover of Open This Little Book (Chronicle Books) by Jesse Klausmeier with illustrations by Suzy Lee I had no idea what to expect. (I rarely consult the jacket flaps until after I read the book.)  Within a few seconds I began to feel a pull, a pull taking me right into the center of the book.

Open this...

Those first two little words offer much.  It seems so often when growing up we hear the opposite.  "Stop!" "Don't open that!"  This phrase is different; freeing, warm and inviting.  So we do as it requests.

In the Little Red Book, the Little Green Book, the Little Orange Book, the Little Yellow Book, the Little Blue Book and the Little Rainbow Book readers are introduced to Ladybug, Frog, Rabbit, Bear and Giant.  Each character is reading a book about the next as the volumes, inset in one another, continually get smaller.  As we move from book to book the characters move into the next title until a problem arises.

The pages of the smallest book cannot be turned by the hand of Giant.  But what are friends for? A book is began and finished with the story within read; to each character's individual and personal joy.

As first the Little Rainbow Book, followed by the others, is closed Giant, Bear, Rabbit, Frog and Ladybug return to their original settings.  When readers turn a page and read:

You close this little red book...

they, like the characters, are transported to a place where a passion can be pursued in the company of like-minded beings.  Read.  Read again.  Share. Read another. This is a timeless, treasured circle with no end.

According to an interview at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast Jesse Klausmeier first conceived this book when she was five years old.  There is a child-like wonder in the simple sentences linked together; a curiosity about what will happen next to whom.  When she chooses story, the reading of a story, to bind these characters together in friendship, the repetition of the words creates a spiral circling outward to surround you.  You, the reader, become a participant in the tale.

Every single time I read this book I discover something new in the illustrations.  Suzy Lee's interpretation is meticulous; right down to the tiniest amazing detail.  Using pencil and watercolor with digital manipulation she begins on the jacket and cover; a lofty view of a tree trunk on the left whose branches stretch as shelves providing space for books and readers alike. Her opening endpapers are rows of tiny gray raindrops on a soft creamy white background switching to a variety of colors, like a rainbow, on the closing endpapers.

Initially Lee opens using a limited palette, black, white and red with a hint of green.  As each little book is opened small spots of the other colors are added.  As the characters return home the use of color increases plus careful readers will see not only the gift of color but the gift of something else bestowed upon each. The pure happiness exhibited by Lee's Ladybug, Frog, Rabbit, Bear and yes, even Giant in each setting is marvelous to behold.

I've lost count of the number of times I've read Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier with illustrations by Suzy Lee.  What I do remember is my excitement building at each page turn.  When I finish I know I am grinning from ear to ear wanting to shout from the rooftops "I love this book!"

Please follow the links embedded in this post to visit the official author and illustrator websites.  Suzy Lee did an interview at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast linked here.

I went right to my bookshelves and pulled off copies of Look At My Book: How Kids Can Write & Illustrate Terrific Books by Loreen Leedy, Making Mini-Books by Sherri Haab (Klutz) and The Elements of Pop-Up by David A. Carter and James Diaz because this title is guaranteed to inspire creativity.  You might also want to visit the web 2.0 application, Zooburst, to make virtual books.  It was an American Library Association 2011 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning.


  1. I must see this book right away! Love the concept and your fantastic review. I will have to buy a copy for myself :). . .

    1. I have already ordered another copy myself and it probably won't be the last. Wait until you see the details. I think I gasped as I discovered each new one. Thanks for stopping in, Jama.