BEHIND THE SCENES
Creative & Unique Books for Kids: A Few of Our Favorites
We made our first foray into the world of children’s storytelling with last year’s launch of Keep Me Posted. It’s a new serial fiction concept, in which original stories are told through a series of (tiny) letters that arrive by mail. Every week for six weeks, we send you a new installment of the story, each told from a different character’s point of view. In short, Keep Me Posted is epistolary fiction for kids. And we don’t know of anything else out there quite like it.
When we decided to start developing creative books for kids, we knew we wanted to be innovative and try something a bit unusual. Lea had always loved Nick Bantock’s bestselling Griffin & Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence. The letter-writing format of the story lets you in on all kinds of secrets between the characters and brings you deep into their inner world right from the start. So we combined this wonderful epistolary format with our expertise in all things tiny mail, and Keep Me Posted was born.
Recently, I’ve been poking around in search of other inspiring approaches to children’s books. I’m looking for anything fun and unusual that’s told in a particularly creative new way. While I’m sure I’ll find many more gems in the future, here are a few of my early favorites. Recommended ages are listed next to each title, but all are sure to be winners for adults too!
1. It’s Useful to Have a Duck
by Isol (Ages 2 and up)
One story with two covers and two perspectives. On the yellow front cover, the book is titled It’s Useful to Have a Duck. It is a first-person narrative from a small boy’s perspective. This inventive book is formatted like an accordion that allows you to read one version of the story and then flip the whole thing over to get the other. The blue back cover is titled It’s Useful to Have a Boy. Read the opposite way, you see the same illustrations but with different text as narrated by the duck.
It reminds me in a very cute and funny way that there’s always more than one way to look at things.
2. The Listeners/These Train Tracks Book and LP Set
by Breathe Owl Breathe (Ages 4 and up)
This is a beautifully produced concept by Michigan indie-folk band Breathe Owl Breathe that is truly unique. The set includes a 7-inch vinyl record encased in a handmade book featuring two stories. One story is for waking up in the morning, whereas the other story is for bedtime. There’s an ostrich and a mole and an underground concert too.
The included soundtrack really brings the beautiful woodcut illustrations to life. The music works so well in tandem with the accompanying text, but it is also great on its own, so parents won’t mind listening to it over and over again. (I’m looking at you Frozen…)
3. Ah-Ha To Zig-Zag: 31 Objects from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
by Maira Kalman (Ages 2 and up)
As a history nerd, this ABC book is my favorite. Not only does it introduce the alphabet, it shares truly delightful objects from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum that children might not otherwise get to see. By pairing seemingly obscure objects from the adult design world with the classic ABC format, Kalman shows us that it’s possible to engage kids and adults at the same time. “A” isn’t for apple anymore. It’s for ah-ha!
Kalman’s illustrations are darling as is the alliterative text. At the end of the story, there’s even an index of the actual objects with photos for anyone looking for a quick extra history lesson.
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Illustrated by Scott Magoon (Ages 2 and up)
This last book has a classic message and a more traditional format, but I just have to include it because Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s perspective is so fresh and unique. In book after book, she’s shown an amazing ability to bring inanimate objects to life in a way that communicates so much about what it means to be human. Spoon is perhaps the finest example of this talent.
Spoon thinks Fork, Knife, and The Chopsticks have it better. But with help from from his mom, Spoon realizes that he is in fact lucky to be a spoon. Who else can dive headfirst into a bowl of ice cream?
Which innovative or non-traditional children’s books should we add to the list? Let us know in the comments!
Click on the photo at right to learn more about our epistolary children’s story Keep Me Posted.
It combines the magic of a great story with the wonder of receiving real letters by mail.
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