Five Finely Illustrated Adventure Books!
In much of children’s literature from the early 1900s through the 1960s, chapter books had a few drawings sprinkled throughout the text; either to illustrate a chapter, to give an idea of what characters looked like, or to point out some action taking place. Around the late 1960s, it seemed illustrations in fiction were phased out. When illustrated chapter books for younger readers started becoming popular with the advent of The Magic Tree House books, some publishers started bringing back illustrations for older readers as well. Then The Invention of Hugo Cabret happened, and suddenly, illustrations were really making a comeback!
This week’s 5 Books is about books that are wonderfully illustrated, where the illustrations tell as much of the story as the words do. You won’t find any wimpy kids here though…these are detailed, lavish illustrations that will leave you wanting more.
In case you don’t remember, our 5 Books Featuring are five related Books–One Old, One New, One Popular with Kids, One Well-Reviewed, and One Favorite of library staff–but you’ll have to guess which is which! Each book has a short synopsis and link to the book in the catalog, so you can easily find and request it.
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Balthazar, Armand. Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic
You’ve never seen Earth like this before: continents reshaped, oceans re-formed, cities rebuilt, and mountains sculpted anew. Dinosaurs roam the plains alongside herds of buffalo, and giant robots navigate the same waters as steam-powered ships.
This is the world Diego Ribera was born into. The past, present, and future coexisting together. In New Chicago, Diego’s middle school hallways buzz with kids from all eras of history and from cultures all over the world. The pieces do not always fit together neatly, but this is the world he loves.
There are those, however, who do not share his affection. On his thirteenth birthday, Diego learns of a special gift he has within, a secret that is part of something much bigger–something he cannot understand. When his father, New Chicago’s top engineer, is taken by the Aeternum, Diego must rescue him and prevent this evil group from disrupting the fragile peace humanity has forged. This beautifully full-color illustrated book is the first volume in a new series!
De Lint, Charles. The Cats of Tanglewood Forest
Lillian Kindred spends her days exploring the Tanglewood Forest, a magical, rolling wilderness that she imagines to be full of fairies. The trouble is, Lillian has never seen a wisp of magic in her hills–until the day the cats of the forest save her life by transforming her into a kitten. Now she must set out on a perilous adventure that will lead her through untamed lands of fabled creates–from Old Mother Possum to the fearsome Bear People–to find a way to make things right.
In this whimsical original folktale, written and illustrated throughout in vibrant full color by two celebrated masters of modern fantasy, a young girl’s journey becomes an enchanting coming-of-age story about magic, friendship, and the courage to shape one’s own destiny.
Also try Seven Wild Sisters, a companion tale.
Lin, Grace. When the Sea Turned to Silver
Pinmei’s gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.
Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide. Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei’s grandmother–before it’s too late.
A fast-paced adventure that is extraordinarily written and beautifully illustrated, When the Sea Turned to Silver is a masterpiece companion novel to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky.
Selznick, Brian. Wonderstruck
Set fifty years apart, two independent stories – Ben’s told in words and Rose’s in pictures – weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder.
Ever since his mom died, Ben feels lost.
At home with her father, Rose feels alone.
He is searching for someone, but he is not sure who.
She is searching for something, but she is not sure what.
When Ben finds a mysterious clue hidden in his mom’s room…
When a tempting opportunity presents itself to Rose…
Both children risk everything to find what’s missing.
With over 460 pages of original drawings and playing with the form he invented in his trailblazing debut novel, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey. Also try his most recent novel, The Marvels.
Van Allsburgh, Chris. The Chronicles of Harris Burdick
For more than twenty-five years, the illustrations in the extraordinary Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg have intrigued and entertained readers of all ages. Thousands of children have been inspired to weave their own stories to go with these enigmatic pictures. Now we’ve asked some of our very best storytellers to spin the tales. Enter The Chronicles of Harris Burdick to gather this incredible compendium of stories: mysterious, funny, creepy, poignant, these are tales you won’t soon forget.
This collection of short stories features many remarkable, best-selling authors in the worlds of both young adult and children’s literature: Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, and Chris Van Allsburg himself.
The illustrations have evoked such wonderment and imagination since Harris Burdick‘s original publication in 1984; many have speculated or have woven their own stories to go with his images. More than ever, the illustrations send off their eerie call for text and continue to compel and pick at the reader’s brain for a backstory–a threaded tale behind the image. In this book, we’ve collected some of the best storytellers to spin them, accompanied by the illustrations that inspired them.
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Do you have any books you’d like to add to this list? (I was reaching a little with the Harris Burdick book…I’m not sure it exactly fits the pattern.) If you do, let us know! Until then, try one of these five wonderfully illustrated books and see what you think.
As always, if you need help finding these or any other books at the library, please ask one of our librarians. We all love to help!