The school year has ramped up, and things are busy. Take a step back for a minute and walk into the quiet of these two picture books. Each of them shows how much can be said given a little space and a few — very few — words.
— Meet Andrew. On the clean, white pages of "Andrew Drew and Drew" (2012, Abrams Appleseed, written and illustrated by Barney Saltzberg, ages 2-7), the simply sketched "doodle boy" in a bright orange striped shirt draws. Unfold the pages to follow Andrew's lines and see the characters he creates with his pencil.
"He began with nothing but a line and before he knew it IDEAS WOULD START TO FLY!"
The image that unfolds over several pages shows Andrew peering contentedly out the porthole of a kite he's created, zooming like a rocket through the clouds.
Drawing things that he sees and things that he imagines, "Andrew thought that making a drawing was like making MAGIC!
"Andrew doodled and doodled. Sometimes he noodled. And cock-a-doodle doodled!"
This book is definitely reminiscent of "Harold and the Purple Crayon," but it has its own special flavor. Kids will enjoy its simple, vibrant, magical feel.
— "More" (2012, Houghton Mifflin, written by I.C. Springman, illustrated by Brian Lies, ages 3-8) begins with the detailed painting of a sorrowful looking magpie. It stands, gazing beyond the page, in the lower right corner of a blank spread.
The text, positioned far in the upper left-hand corner of the spread, says, "Nothing."
A mouse gives the magpie a marble. He carries it to his nest, smiling.
"Something," the text says.
The magpie begins to collect other objects for his nest — a Lego, keys, a necklace, a spoon.
"A few, several, more " He fills his nest and others, until it all becomes "Way too much."
Mouse screams, "Enough!" Indeed, it is "More than enough" because the branch breaks, spilling the huge pile of objects on top of the magpie.
Slowly, the mice begin to uncover the grateful bird. "Less and less," says the text. Finally, with the magpie's help, the pile is gone. "Not so much. Not much at all. Enough? Yes, enough."
The book ends with a painting of the magpie flying free, carrying the mouse on his back, along with just two small objects (one of which is the marble).
The detail and expressiveness of the paintings bring depth and life to this sparely worded, timely fable.
Alice B. McGinty (http://www.alicebmcginty.com ), the award-winning author of more than 40 books for children, directs a summer writing camp, Words on Fire, for teens. She also tutors school-aged children in writing.