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Out of This World: The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington by Michelle Markel


Written by Michelle Markel
Illustrated by Amanda Hall
(Balzer + Bray; $17.99, Ages 4-8)


Out of This World: The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington bk cover



Starred Review – Booklist


Named as one of Amazon’s Best Nonfiction Books for January 2019, Out of This World: The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington engages us from the opening lines where we’re told that “Leonora’s parents wanted her to be like every other well-bred English girl. But she was not.” Carrington’s amazing history unfolds with her love of drawing at age four. In the early 1900s, women were expected to be proper ladies then wives. Yet even with few opportunities, Carrington boldly forged a life which allowed her imaginative spirit to flourish.

This is the second picture-book collaboration between Michelle Markel and illustrator Amanda Hall. (The first, also about a significant figure from art history, was award-winning and critically acclaimed The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau). Once again, Hall’s art infuses vibrant color and lively images. She succeeds in conveying “the spirit, themes, and sensibility [Carrington] explored in her creative output without attempting to re-create any of her actual imagery.”


int spread of Mexico by Amanda Hall from Out of This World by Michelle Markel
Interior illustration from from Out of This World: The Surreal Art of Leonora Carrington written by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Amanda Hall, Balzer + Bray ©2019.


This book introduces surrealism to kids in a fun manner, yet Carrington’s plight is also understood. Instead of conforming to her society’s ideas about a woman’s place in the world, Carrington’s paintings, sculptures, and writings shaped a path that brought wide recognition in her lifetime. Additional, fascinating details are summarized in the back matter.

@ChristineVZ and @WFSediting,

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Travel Around the World (Without Leaving Your Chair)

Debbie Glade reviews two books that offer creative ways to introduce your children to geography, cultures and ancient history.

There’s no denying that there’s something mysteriously exciting about hieroglyphics, pharaohs, pyramids and buried treasures. Perhaps that’s why I never met a child who was not fascinated by Ancient Egypt.  Ancient Egypt: Tales of Gods and Pharaohs ($16.99, Candlewick Press, ages 6 and up) is a very unique and creative book. Author/illustrator Marcia Williams retells nine Ancient Egyptian tales using the format of a comic book. But don’t be mistaken – unlike a regular comic book, this is a very sturdy, well-crafted hardcover book with vibrant illustrations using the quintessential Egyptian colors and high quality paper. Dialogue goes on inside the comic frames, while stories are told in bits beneath each frame. The dialogue is often funny, and oh so entertaining. The best part is that young readers will learn a lot about Egyptian culture and discoveries, without having to study a boring textbook. Your child will love the dialogue and the illustrations. There’s a lot to look at here and a lot to learn too.

Tales from India: Stories of Creation and the Cosmos ($19.99, Templar Books, ages 9 and up) is a big (88 pages), beautiful book, filled with Hindu tales and colorful, one-of-a-kind illustrations by award-winning illustrator, Amanda Hall. Written by award-winning author, Jamila Gavin, this books takes readers on a journey though creation, natural disasters, evil kings, powerful romances, unsung heroes and so much more. Think of it as a sophisticated book of Indian mythology. The stories are ideal for advanced readers and for upper elementary and middle school classrooms. They can easily be read out loud for the entire class to enjoy and can easily spark some creativity for doing social studies projects.

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