Just Being Audrey
By Margaret Cardillo and Illustrated by Julia Denos
Picture book, non-fiction
Balzer +Bray, 2011
Who hasn’t wanted to be Audrey Hepburn at one time or another, if for no other reason than to rock those fabulous pencil pants and bangs? Now, even the youngest readers can meet the legend.
Just Being Audrey captures the resilient and humble spirit of this beloved Hollywood icon, a woman known as much for her kindness and professionalism as she was for her films. Cardillo offers us a refreshing departure from brat star updates that we can get on TV any time.
I’m especially fond of Julia Denos’ illustrations here. They capture that unforgettable face and Hepburn’s distinctive fashion style. (Check out the spread of Hepburn in her most famous film costumes.) Don’t be surprised if your dress-up chest gets some new additions as a result.
Failed dancer, World War II survivor, Broadway star, Hollywood legend, UNICEF ambassador, loving child advocate – Audrey Hepburn was all of them. How’s that for a strong girl? MM
By Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Jon Klassen
Balzer + Bray, 2012
Awards/recognitions: *Junior Library Guild Selection *New York Times Bestseller *An IndieBound Top 10 Kids Next List Pick
If you’re familiar with Mac Barnett (writer and self-proclaimed strong man for hire), you know he’s a comedy master who is especially good at the inside joke in writing and beyond. To illustrate: He’s the founder of The Echo Park Time Travel Mart – a sort of 7-11 convenience store for time travelers. That he’s collaborated with Jon Klassen, last year’s 2012 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor winner for I Want My Hat Back, is a stroke of genius.
But guess what? You won’t get the side splitter you’d imagine. Instead, we get something better.
Annabelle finds a box of yarn and starts knitting. It looks like a plain box of yarn – except that it isn’t. The yarn never runs out. So begins the adventure of a little girl with a heart big enough to knit hats and sweaters (and, um, other stuff) for the whole world, just because she can. No amount of bullying or negativity can stop her.
There are plenty of funny moments (and inside jokes about suspiciously familiar characters), but what I love about this little gem isn’t the comedy. It’s the allegory. Annabelle knits happiness on her own terms, and it’s so pure and strong you might just wish to go hunting for your own ball of yarn, too. MM