Thursday, February 20, 2014

Anna Alter's Five Favorite Quiet Books. . .

Today, we are tickled pink to welcome Anna Alter to the Cottage. Anna is the author and illustrator of A Photo For Greta, Disappearing Desmond and Abigail Spells, among many gentle and endearing stories for young readers. We are gigantic fans of her books--and we're not quiet about it! That's why we were super-excited when Anna agreed to share with us her five favorite quiet books. 

"When I got my first publishing contract, I didn’t know what a 'quiet' book was. It wasn’t until editors and reviewers started pointing out the quiet sensibility of my work that I started to think about the term. I’ve always loved spare, understated story telling, but the emotional impact of those stories felt so intense and compelling, it had never occurred to me to call them quiet.

Fourteen years later, I think I have a better understanding of what the term means. To me, a quiet book has layers, speaks to truths within the reader without pointing them out explicitly, and most of all invites the reader to participate in the story. It opens up inside you, like a secret whispered in your ear. What seemed like a confusing term when I was starting out is now, unabashedly, my very favorite type of story. Hurray for quiet books!

Here are some that I adore, and now read with my daughter over and over again."

Emily's Balloon by Komako Sakai

"This is a recent purchase that I picked up because of a friend’s recommendation and OH, do I love it! I could gaze at the pleasing round shapes, animated linework, and perfect compositions all day. Both the writing and illustrations are hushed, in the best of ways. The body language of the little girl tells you everything about her love for a balloon and her heartbreak at its loss."

A Grand Old Tree by Mary Newell DePalma

"This book was written and illustrated by a friend I am lucky to know and is a perfect example of how satisfying a quiet book can be. We follow the simple story of a tree’s life and death, and how it sustains the creatures and landscape around it. My daughter loves to point out the little subplots: the birds laying eggs in the tree’s branches, the caterpillars crawling up the trunk, the lichen growing there. It’s a great jumping off point for talking about nature and the cycle of life. When we walk in the woods around our house, we talk about what happens to trees when they fall and how connected plants and animals are."

Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown and Garth Williams

"This has long been one of my all-time favorite books. It walks us through a simple, uneventful day from the perspective of a child. The rhythm and pacing are the kind of perfection we would expect from two masters of their trade, and the world is comforting and soft. The pleasure of the read is all in how the story is delivered, the sing-song of the writing and the warmth of the illustrations."

Look by Michael Grejniec

"This is another simple story, told from the perspective of a boy who has to stay in bed because he is sick. He spends the day looking out the window and finds that if you look closely, interesting things are happening all around us. He watches his neighbors get ready for the day, children playing in the street, and circus performers parading by. Like A Grand Old Tree, we watch little subplots develop and resolve. Shadows imply what goes on above and around the corner." 
Little Bunny on the Move by Peter McCarty

"This book feels like you’ve woken up in the middle of the night and stumbled outside into brilliant moonlight. The little bunny in the title is going home, seeking out the place of belonging children crave and instantly recognize. The writing and dreamlike illustrations invite you into a world that feels beautiful and true."

Anna grew up with a great love for drawing, painting, and reading. She attended the Rhode Island School of Design, where she studied illustration. After learning the ropes as an assistant at Houghton Mifflin Company, she began submitting her work, and has been creating books for kids ever since.

Anna's books have been selected as a CCBC Choice best book of the year, Bank Street College best book of the year, Junior Library Guild selection, Texas 2x2 Recommended Reading, and twice been included in the Society of Illustrator's Original Art Show.

In addition to writing and illustrating children's books, Anna has taught art and book making to audiences of all ages: she has worked as a preschool teacher, held art classes for grade schoolers, and taught a course on children's book illustration at the Montserrat College of Art.

A Photo for Greta
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2011)
ISBN: 978-0375856181

Greta loves spending time with her dad. She loves reading books with him, playing checkers in the park, and eating ice cream with him on Saturdays. But Greta's dad often has to travel far from home for work. He's an important photographer who takes pictures of astronauts, opera singers, and basketball players. Greta has her own adventures while her dad is away, but she misses him. When he finally returns home, Greta learns that taking pictures isn't the only important thing to her dad.

"A paean to paternal love." --The New York Times

Disappearing Desmond
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010)
ISBN: 978-0-375-86684-5

*2011 Cooperative Children's Book Center's Best-of-the-Year List
*2011-2012 Texas 2x2 Recommended Reading List

Desmond likes to disappear, blend into the background, and hide in the cleverest of places. But when a new student named Gloria arrives at his school, Desmond finds himself noticed for the first time. Can Gloria help Desmond get used to life in the spotlight?

"A reassuring tale of friendship that gives voice to young wallflowers and their secret desire to connect with others." --Booklist

"Alter's empathy is never in question, and with Gloria's arrival it becomes clear just how much yearning was in Desmond's heart--socially confident readers and shrinking violets alike will be won over." --Publishers Weekly

Find out more about Anna and her work on her web site:!

No comments:

Post a Comment