Hopefully a regular feature on our blog, we would like to focus on particular children's book authors or illustrators that you may or may not have heard of before. For the inaugural "Spotlight on..." we would like to focus on the very talented Jessica Meserve!
We discovered Jessica Meserve's books through a chance encounter with her picture book "Bedtime Without Arthur". One taste of her amazing work (yes we said "amazing", no exaggeration here!) and we had to source out as many of her other books as possible. From black and white illustrations for early-reader novels to full-colour picture books, she has the uncanny ability to bring magic to anything she touches.
She has written and illustrated these wonderful picture books:
"Small (It's Not Easy Being the Little Sister)" (Random House UK, 2006): "Small" tells the story of a little sister (Small) who is stuck in her big sister's (Big's) shadow. No matter what Small does, it seems that Big always does it better. Small soon discovers that there is something that she can do better than Big and that everyone is good at something no matter their place in the world.
"Can Anybody Hear Me?" (Random House UK, 2008): Jack was a quiet child who lived on a farm with a very noisy family. They were so noisy, that no one ever heard what he said or paid him much attention. Frustrated, he sets out on his own with his stuffed bear Chester. Together they end up on an adventure in the wilderness and after some challenges and encounters with various wildlife, Jack finds his voice and confidence. When he returns to his family, he asserts himself makes himself heard.
"Bedtime Without Arthur" (Random House UK, 2009). As previously mentioned, this was the book that made us instant fans of Jessica Meserve's work. It tells the story of a little girl named Bella who relies on her karate-master stuffed bear named Arthur to protect her from the scary monsters at bedtime. When Arthur ends up missing, Bella is destined for a rough night. She then discovers that her younger brother Finley has taken him to bed. At first she is mad, but then realizes that she's stronger and braver than her little brother and that he needs Arthur more than she does.
As an illustrator, Jessica Meserve is one of the best. With every inch of the page covered in a rainbow of colour, her bright and vibrant illustrations bring a sweetness and heart to the stories. Whether joyful or scary, she is able to capture the mood of each scene perfectly. Her art is truly eye-candy for adults, but also incredibly appealing and accessible for children which is the real triumph.
Beautiful art aside, she is also able to tell a great story! As an author, she tells simple and highly entertaining stories that contain very complex ideas. Her books are enjoyable and a fun read, but also a great way to approach serious subjects with little ones such as self-esteem and what it means to be a younger sibling in the family.
We would be remiss if we neglected to also mention her illustration work for other authors. First off is the adorable "Daisy Dawson" series of novels for early readers (Candlewick Press). Written by Steve Voake, these books chronicle the adventures of a young girl who has the ability to understand and talk to animals. These sweet and funny adventure stories are made even more enjoyable by Jessica Meserve's black and white illustrations. They are consistently our top recommendations for early readers aged six to nine. Jessica Meserve also illustrated the picture book "The Baby (But I'd Have Liked a Hamster)" for author India Knight (Penguin Group, 2007). Telling the story of a little boy dealing with his brand-new baby sister, this is one of our favourite stories for families expecting a new sibling to the household.
If you aren't familiar with her work, please rush out and pick up a couple of her books. You won't be disappointed! For more information and images from her work, please visit her website http://jessicameserve.com .
Now go share a book with your kids...