I am continuing last week’s Asian theme by highlighting today a very successful Japanese picture book author/illustrator. Satoshi Kitamura is known for quirky perspectives, brilliant watercolors, great detail and unique, humorous characters. After winning the Mother Goose Award for the Most Exciting Newcomer to British Illustration in 1983 for Angry Arthur (written by Hiawyn Oram), he moved from Japan to the United Kingdom, where he was based in London until returning to Tokyo in 2008.
This story about an insomniac sheep named Woolly, is full of surprises. There is a counting theme that runs from page one through to the end. But there is also an element of mystery and suspense, as well as the absurd and a lot of fun. I love the fact that none of the objects are enumerated, but you will surely need to be a patient narrator as every child is going to want to count the: six squirrels, or ten UFO’s, or fifteen pictures that Wooly has drawn, right through to the twenty two Z’s when he finally falls asleep. There is, of course, a whole story to follow about what Wooly is actually up to on his nocturnal search for sleep.
Georgina, Hubert and Gogol, decide they want one last swim in the sea before winter. Unfortunately, these three trusting sheep leave their coats with a bunch of seemingly friendly wolves on the beach. Now coatless, they head for the city and the help of the private detective, Elliott Baa, and a crazy gang of rugby-playing cats. As you can imagine the is a crazy, funny, silly story of detection, full of action and detailed illustrations that will delight children. These wily wolves are actually running an underground knitwear company, called Wolfgang and Bros, but will they outwit the cunning and camaraderie of the sheep+cat brigade? Kitamura often puts several illustrations on one page, in a cartoon-like style in this story and children will want to pore over the vivid details.
As we work our way towards the end of PiBoIdMo, trying to come up with as many unique picture book ideas as we can, I enjoyed reviewing an author who understands so well how to juxtapose ridiculous individuals and scenarios in a story, in order to capture the silly that kids love so much. I do recommend that you look up Satoshi Kitamura in your local library, for inspiration.
#109 & 110 in There’s a Book’s Read to Me Picture Book Challenge.