Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 15: Loren Long, why libraries should shelve by illustrator

Loren Long is one of the first illustrators I officially fell in love with.  He's the one who first made me wish that libraries shelved their children's books by illustrator, rather than by author.  So, without further ado -- meet Loren:

Toy Boat is one of my very favorite read-alouds.  I've checked it out of the library endless times over the years.  Each time trying to find it again was like a wild goose chase.  I could never remember the author's name.  It's a tricky one, in my defense.  Randall something was always the prefix that threw me off as I wandered the shelves aimlessly.  (All this wild-goose-chasing was in the {olden days}, before I had this wonderful device called an i-Phone).  This is the story of a toy boat that longed for a moment's independence to roam free.  Once he's released by a storm one day, he learns that the world can be a big place and longs for the familiarity and safety of home.  You get to use lots of boat voices and your best onamotapeia and say, "MOVE ALONG!" as meanly as possible to the poor little boat as he's tossed about, alone in the giant sea.

My blurb isn't doing this book justice today.  I'm sleep deprived and sick, but trust me on this one.  It's good and you won't regret it.  I'm forever a Loren Long fan due to this book.  Just look at the big personality of those waves!

I used to have The Little Engine that Could memorized.  Most of it is still ingrained in my brain.  Much to my chagrin, it was the book of choice of both my boys in their early years.  "Again, Mommy! Again!"  If only Loren Long had released his version sooner - at least it would have been easier on the eyes.  There's just something about that book that is completely irresistible to children.  Now, wrapped in all the dreaminess of Loren Long's artwork, the story has been redeemed for me.  Loren Long gave it new life.  If that isn't a good reason for a crush, I don't know what is.

I just recently (finally) checked out Madonna's Mr. Peabody's Apples.  It was surprisingly good.  And also a pretty powerful picture of the damage words can do.  Classic Loren Long.  I highly recommend it.

Loren also illustrated Barack Obama's children's book, Of Thee I Sing.  I love the poetic, lyrical note in the words.  I read it to Matthew's Kindergarten class last year for Martin Luther King Day.  The book has a beautiful sense of history and that each of us is a part of shaping the future.  It's a great way to introduce kids to a little bit of history and culture.  There's even a bio section in the back with more information.  My son loves it.  I bought this book as a gift to myself; I've given in and started a children's book collection just for my own inspiration.


So there you have it.  The fabulously exaggerated illustrations of Loren Long.  His body of awesome work is much larger than this.  See - now I've got you wishing that the library shelved by illustrator too?  My job here is done.

Click {here} to read 31 Days of Children's Book Crushes from the beginning.  Click {here} to read Day 16: When the title and the book cover say it all.


  1. We love Otis, a book written and illustrated by Loren Long! The illustrations beautifully represent the story of the perseverance of a tractor. Thanks for giving us some new to us books to look for in the library.

    1. I haven't read Otis yet. I'll have to check it out next time I'm at the library!


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