When I was little, my favorite bedtime book was “Goodnight Moon.” Looking back today, the mix of bright colorful pages and black-and-white images, along with simple rhymes, still makes me smile. Sure, from a design standpoint, the book shows its age in color palette and typographic treatments but, for me, the charm remains. Nowadays, however, many children’s book illustrators have upped the ante with strong, timeless designs and compelling narratives that discuss and explain everything from divorce to mom’s plastic surgery. Case in point: “Bluebird” from Schwartz & Wade Books.
“Bluebird” is “New Yorker” cover artist Bob Staake’s newest book. Described by “The Washington Post” as “one of the most dynamic, original, colorful and humorous cartoonists working today,” Staake proves his artistic prowess once again using a muted, simple color pallet in a wordless story. The book features simple illustrations to tell a story about friendship, loneliness, loss and bullying, and the restrained design helps the illustrations (and the powerful message) speak for themselves.
And while the design work is lovely, it is the message behind the story of a young, lonely boy and his fast friendship with a loyal bird that makes “Bluebird” wonderful. The emotional story explores the ideas of bullying, violence and self-sacrifice for a friend. The purposefully ambiguous ending is Staake’s way of ensuring the message hits close to home for each reader. As he puts it, “Children can resolve ‘Bluebird’ in their own personal—and empowering—way.” Staake’s hope is that “the book he was born to write” has an impact on the bullied as well as the bullies.
Was the project you were born to create part of an in-house project? If so, enter it in the In-HOWse Design Awards & Competition. The deadline is just around the corner (May 1st), so submit your masterpiece today.