Season 01, Episode 04
In this book talk episode, Nicki shares a few book titles on the subject of picture books for adults.
Picture Books for Adults – Reading List on Bookshop.org
Mentions & Further Reading
Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss
Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Compendium of Untranslatable Words from Around the World by Ella Frances Sanders
The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris
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Exploring story in a time of collapse
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Hello, welcome to Nicki’s Wonder List a podcast about exploring story in a time of collapse. I’m Nicki Youngsma.
So for today’s book talk, I’m gonna be sharing some titles that are adult picture books. I’m really excited to share these books because
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I found that in my own journey through enjoying books is that it started for me. What I imagine is like how it starts for many people that I began reading picture books as a child.
And then there’s this graduation that occurs when books start losing pictures and they gain more words. Something that I rediscovered as an adult, since I read lots of picture books. Now that sometimes it’s fun to read books that aren’t full of words. It’s nice to have a story presented in a different way.
One genre that comes to mind as I talk about this, our graphic novels and comic books, and I wish that I could enjoy graphic novels and comic books. Like I want to. but I feel like I just can’t, um, there’s just something about the layout of a lot of books that I’ve encountered that are hard for me to enjoy.
Like the frames are really small or I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on and I get overstimulated and, and I can’t finish it. Graphic novels. I mean, they’re great. Like graphic novels and comic books are different for me in a way where there’s like a lot more density that happens on a page and on a spread that just doesn’t really work for me.
Um, works for a lot of people, which is awesome. Like, don’t get me wrong. I want to enjoy graphic novels. I want to do that. And I just can’t, some of them are really beautiful. Compelling and great stories. That’s just not a format that really works for me. So I’ve got some picture books here and I read a lot of picture books because I have two young kids and I feel like it’s nice to revisit this and also enjoy stories this way.
So I have books to share today that I like the first book that I have is called Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, a tale of love and fallout by Lauren Redniss. So I learned about this book because I was driving home from work one day and I heard an interview with the author and she was describing how radium right after its discovery, how it was commercialized and received by the mainstream.
There was this frenzy and the radio was just like added to a bunch of stuff like costumes and watches and all the stuff you shouldn’t put radioactive substances into. And one of those things was paint that people used in their homes and this paint was called Undark paint. So the author was describing Undark paint, and I just was like, that’s fascinating…
I remembered that book and I found it at a bookstore and you know, it, wasn’t what I expected. And it was better. The book has different mediums in it, um, for the images. So there’s photographs, there’s illustrations, there’s some mixed media. And then there are also a lot of Ceanotypes, which is a kind of printmaking and some of the images are really colorful and engaging.
There’s an interesting type set that I feel like is fun. And a lot of play in like how the layout is executed in the book in regards to text with this book, I find myself going to it every now and again. And I, I like to reread sections of it because I’ve always been interested in the history of nuclear research and energy.
It’s been a topic that has been fascinating to me. So I feel like this book makes that information in just the general sense of the story accessible. And it’s also presented with these pictures on these images that make it engaging. The next book I have to share is called Lost in translation: an illustrated compendium of untranslatable words from around the world by Ella Francis Sanders. This book is also written and illustrated by the. I found this book at a local bookstore, cuz I was just there one day and I saw it and I feel like a lot of book purchases, you know, that happen for me? It’s cuz I’m just in the store for like something else. And then I see something, I’m sure it’s not a unique experience, especially with books that are visually rich, like an adult picture book.
I might not have bought that online. I just kind of glanced at this. It just seemed fun. So I took it home and it’s a book that has several words from languages that are not in English that don’t really have succinct translations. Um, so each spread is dedicated to a word in a language and then the definition is provided.
And then also the context for that word. So for example, my favorite word from this. Is this word that is in the Tulu language, that is a language spoken against Southwestern India. So this word on this spread is karelu, by the way, I’m not confident in my pronunciation of that, but is what car is, is it’s a noun and it describes the mark left on the skin by wearing something tight.
So like if you’re wearing socks and like the socks are kind of tight around, you know, your leg. There is an indentation left on your skin. That’s a karelu and I just love it, that there is a language that people speak in which there is space made to describe that thing. so I just think that this is just a fun book to think about language, especially if you’re an English speaker and the pictures are fun.
I think they’re done in gush. It’s not stated in the book, but that’s what it looks like to.
The third book I have for today is called the Lost spells by Robert McFarland and Jackie Morris. So this book is another one that I found when I was at the bookstore with my family, you know, we were browsing and I was picking up things to look at and I saw the jacket on this, which is really beautiful.
And so I picked it up and I started just kind of thumbing through the pages. And so I bought. Addition I have is a hardback book. And so the end paper is illustrated with a bunch of really colorful, beautiful. The book is divided into sections with each section, being a poem about a creature or something in nature.
The first one is about a Fox. Then there is a section about a barn owl. There is a section about an Oak, like the language is really rich. It’s really fun to read this out loud and it’s meant to be read out loud. Some spreads are really picture heavy. I think it’s done in watercolor. That’s what it looks like to me and I paint in watercolor.
So I really appreciate this book because I admire the paintings cuz I’m like, oh, how would I do it? Or like, Ooh, I love that technique. Or that’s a really interesting way to do that. One of my favorite pages is one with a Finch on it. It’s a whole spread and the Finch is sitting on a cluster of barren branches.
And in order to get branches to kind of interweave with each other, like you have to do a lot of planning and watercolor like, like appreciate how it was painted. So, you know, it’s really delicious to me. In my experience, picture books are usually created for a youth audience. I didn’t even really think about picture books until I started reading books to my kids.
And then I remembered what it was like to be able to enjoy a story that’s told in a different way.
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So I’m really excited. To share some titles today that are picture books written for an adult audience.
If any of these titles peak your interest, then go to the show notes to buy books through the Nicki’s Wonder List, storefront on Bookshop.org.
Purchasing through this storefront means you’ll be supporting authors. Independent book sellers and this podcast.
Thank you for listening to Nicki’s Wonder List. Until next time.
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