Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sixty Impossible Things Before Lunch and Other Absurd Books

I don't usually focus on one author/illustrator for my blog, but this week I am shaking things up.  I thought it would be a wonderful time to introduce you to Harriet Russell, an illustrator from the UK, who also happens to add the most delightful words to her drawings.

I think I fell in love with her books because she has a quirky way of looking at things, but even more than that, the quirkiness is always impossibly funny.  And anyone who reads this blog knows, a book full of clever humor gets me every time!

Harriet Russell's book repertoire is small, but what she lacks in quantity she certainly makes up for in quality.  So let me introduce you to two of my favorite children's books.

Sixty Impossible Things Before Lunch
I bought this book because I have a son who says without wavering, "nothing is impossible, there is always a chance it could happen."  He will say this EVERY time I say something is impossible.  You might think he would forget a time or two, or be distracted and not hear me, but noooooo, he says it EVERY time.  So when I saw this book, I immediately knew he had to have it.  Sixty impossible things and that was just before lunch, by god I had him this time.

The book is beyond clever.  The impossible things it covers are:

Chocolate Teapot (it would melt)
Meet everyone in the world (there are 6.8 billion at current count)
Get parallel lines to meet
Answer the question "which came first, the chicken or the egg" (although she illustrates a wonderful debate between the chicken and the egg as they try to figure it out.)

And that is just the beginning, there are also questions with so many answers it is impossible to pick one and puzzles that are impossible to solve.  The illustrations are absolutely inspired and simply add dimension to the perplexing questions.

Well my son loved the book, and he accepted the challenge.  The problem is that if you look and care enough, some things that seem impossible just may not be ... so we are both keeping an open mind.

The Utterly Pointless Counting Book
This book isn't really a book, it is an accordion fold that counts up to eleven (of course, eleven.)  But that is not the only way this counting book is like nothing you have ever seen.  To share a few examples:

1 pigeon (surrounded by a lot of other pigeons,)
3 coats of paint on a wall,
10 cakes that have been eaten and
11 ostriches with umbrellas "only you can't see them because there is a rather large mountain in the way."

This is counting in the absurd!

I think our whole family loves the the absolute farcical nature of this book/accordion fold.   Obviously the hilarity is in the ridiculousness of each number description.  I think for younger kids it may be an interesting way to challenges their view of numbers, but this book never takes itself seriously, and that is where it gets its unending charm.

Sadly Harriet Russell's books are not readily available in the U.S., but you can purchase them through her website:  They are well worth the effort.

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