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Exciting picture books for young children

Some of the most innovative and imaginative books for young children are coming from Gestalten, a German publisher based in that country’s powerhouse of creativity, Berlin.

 

Sean Sheehan

 

The pages of their Little Gestalten books will be turned by young kids with gleeful anticipation; adults who yearn for non-digital forms of education and entertainment will be delighted by their books.

Advice from George Bernard Shaw, ‘Make it a rule never to give a child a book you would not read yourself’, are wisely taken to heart by Little Gestalten.

The results are picture books with enthralling visuals, inventive stories and striking design features.

“Goliath: the boy who was different”, for 3-5 year-olds, is a large hardback  (21 by 33cm) with a first-person narrative by Goliath, a child who always knew that he was different.

In his case, it’s his large size that makes him feel out of place and he sets off to find someplace where he won’t seem the odd one out. His  odyssey, whereby he learns that he’s OK the way he is, is a fable for conformist times and an antidote to the peer pressure that can make it difficult for young people to find their own place in the world.

Words are kept to a minimum in this tale, relying more on bold, primary colours and striking drawings to inspire confidence in and empower readers who, for whatever reasons of their own, will empathize with Goliath’s plight.

Published last month, the French authors of “Acrobat family” have produced something rather special.

It’s a pop-up book that will have an immediate appeal to anyone aged three or over; an upper age limit is best not specified because this magically crafted book is able to captivate adults as well.

The design of “Acrobat family”, striking in its appearance and arrangement of pages, goes delightfully beyond the protocols of pop-up books.

You have to hold the book and turn its pages to appreciate how it re-enacts the balancing act that has a family of acrobats poised daringly on top of one another.

Picture books are at their best when they combine the fun of reading and learning. With “Acrobat family” it’s difficult to imagine a more playful way to learn how to count to ten while “The mystery of the golden wonderflower” engages young readers’ curiosity about the natural world and encourages their capacity for close observation.

Fox is reading about the golden wonderflower, a mountain plant so mysterious that not a single image of it exists.

Like Goliath, he sets off on a journey of discovery, this time a botanical one, and children aged four and upwards can share his encounters with trees and flowers along the way. The drawings of the plants are precise and as attractive as the animals Fox meets with on his trek to the top of a mountain.

“Goliath: the boy who was different”, by Ximo Abadia; “Acrobat family” by Anouck Boisrobert & Louis Rigaud; and  “The mystery of the golden wonderflower”  by Benjamin Flouw, are published by Gestalten

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