I’ve been trying to keep pace with the Picture Book Month celebration calendar, but I’ll admit the name for November 9th stumped me. I had never heard of Sergio Bumatay. But quite frequently I don’t recognize a name and then I have a book attached to it and I find myself nodding and realizing I’ve read and/or used for story time one of their books that I absolutely loved, so I wasn’t too concerned. Then I searched my library catalog, and we didn’t have anything by him. Okay, no sweat, expand the search to neighboring libraries. Still nothing. Search the catalogs of my previous two employers, which were by no means small libraries. Still nothing. That’s when I went back to the Picture Book Month website to find out that Sergio Bumatay is a Filipino artist. Not that I have anything against foreign artists or authors, as you’ve seen by my reviewing several books by international authors. But I’m wondering if any of his work has made its way over the waters to libraries.

So after exhausting all my options, I fell upon the theme for the day, which is imagination. Now, because I typically do story times for toddlers, I usually stick with the more concrete ideas, like animals, colors, seasons, or food. What better way to spark their imagination than with artwork?

Chalk by Bill Thomson is the first book I would choose, the one that immediately came to mind. It wordlessly tells the story of several friends who stumble across some magic chalk that brings whatever they draw to life. After the obligatory benign start of sunshine and butterflies, one child creatively draws a dinosaur, which also comes to life and attempts to eat the children before some fast thinking saves the day. The illustrations are absolutely stunning, and there is nothing benign about their mimicry of real life. Readers see the individual hairs on one of the girl’s pigtail braids. You can find samples of Thomson’s work online at his website, and some of his other work is just stunning. I would love to get his Watercolors painting as a gift and hang it on my wall somewhere, maybe in my office or den. It’s beautiful! Some of his prints, including that one in the link, are available for purchase on his website.

Another book that is ironically both wordless and the same concept of artwork coming to life is Magpie Magic: A Tale of Colorful Mischief by April Wilson. In this one, a magpie plays a game of cat and mouse with its creator after it springs off the page. Readers never see more than the creator’s hands, placing them squarely in the story where they could envision acting out the story. I love the details in the bird’s plumage, especially when you get to the surprise ending. This is more proof that I’m not completely oblivious to non-American authors/illustrators, as the author biography at the end states that April Wilson lives in England.

What do you think of when you hear the word imagination? What books would you read to encourage imaginations?

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