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Delicious and delightful illustrations fill children’s books

By Sara Grajek
Rowan Public Library
Imagine “The Little Engine that Could” without the cheerful blue train. Or “Curious George” without drawings of that impish monkey and the Man in the yellow hat.
Without those carefully drawn illustrations we would all have very different images to accompany these trademarks of children’s literature. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but these pictures are icons that draw us together with the same classic memories from our childhood, no matter what our age.
Some of today’s illustrators have just as much talent. In fact, the pictures are often the first thing I look at when a new book arrives in the children’s room of Rowan Public Library.
With the books “A Seed is Sleepy” and “An Egg is Quiet,” by Dianna Aston and illustrated by Sylvia Long, various elements of nature are featured in watercolor illustrations.
Delicate, yet detailed paintings of seed pods, leaves, pine trees and much more can be found inside the pages of “A Seed is Sleepy,” along with easy to read hand-printed text. The text provides an introduction to the plants illustrated, but the larger-than-life paintings are often what captures the reader’s attention.
Jan Brett is practically an icon in preschools because of her book, “The Mitten,” but in addition to that, she has also written or illustrated close to 30 other books for children. Her illustrations feature detailed, carefully-planned pages that often include animals and intricate patterns. In many of her books there are ovals at the edge of the page that give an indication of what is to come on the next page. By looking closely at the current page, you can guess what will happen next.
For sheer fun and amusement, take a look at books by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers. This pair has cleverly crafted their illustrations from food that has been carved to look like smiling faces.Picture an orange with the small stem area on top serving as a nose, a smile carved out just below it (and don’t forget the teeth), then add some happy eyes above with watermelon seeds placed just right for eyeballs.
Can’t quite imagine it? Well, stop by the library and check out “Food for Thought,” where cauliflower florets become sheep, bananas become giraffes, cherries become ants and eggplants become penguins. Or look for “Dr. Pompo’s Nose” where all the characters are pumpkins, and “Fast Food” where vehicles are created from squash, watermelon and zucchini.No matter who your favorite author is, or what your favorite book, the next time you are at Rowan Public Library take an extra minute to appreciate the illustrations. They can add a whole new layer to your story.
June computer classes: Headquarters ó Computer Survival Tips, Monday, 7 p.m.; Creating Web Pages, Thursday, June 5, 1:30 p.m.; Audio Books and NetLibrary, Monday, June 9, 7 p.m.; Microsoft Publisher Part 1, Thursday, June 12, 1:30 p.m.; Introduction to Windows, Monday, June 16, 7 p.m.; Microsoft Publisher Part 2, Thursday, June 19, 1:30 p.m. South ó Google Class, Monday, June 9, 7 p.m.Displays: Headquarters ó Price High School by Eleanor Qadirah; South ó Build-a-Bear by Diane Brideson.Children’s programs: Registration has begun for this year’s Summer Reading Program, “Catch the Reading Bug!” at headquarters and East and South branches. Kickoff is Saturday, June 14, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.
Web site: For a listing of all library programs at all library locations, www.rowanpubliclibrary. org.

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