Allison's Book Bag

Posts Tagged ‘Argyle Fox

Marie Letourneau is a full-time illustrator and graphic artist, with a BA in Fine Arts from Hofstra University’s New College on Long Island. She has done design work for (and appeared on) The Nate Berkus Show, and The Revolution with fashion icon Tim Gunn. In 2014, Marie was a finalist in the Martha Stewart American Made Awards for her stationery shop Le French Circus, on Etsy. She loves animals, beets, and roller skating. Marie is the author and illustrator for Argyle Fox. She and her family live on Long Island, New York.

ALLISON: Your bio indicates that you made books as a child. Do you still have one, and if so, why, and please describe? Or do you remember one that you gave as a gift, and if so, why, and please describe?

MARIE: I think only one of my childhood books exist. My aunt has a book I made for her when I was about 11 or 12. I think it was about a forest-dwelling creature called a “Blump” (sort of a cross between a gnome and a hobbit) I don’t remember the storyline, but it was based off of a stuffed toy I won at an amusement park.

ALLISON: What other interests did you have a child?

MARIE:Art in general was my main interest. But I also loved roller skating (which served me later in life when I joined women’s roller derby!)

ALLISON: Share an unforgettable memory from adolescence.

MARIE: I was 13 and my sister, Michelle and I were at the beach. Suddenly a baby whale appeared and we swam out past the breakers to meet it. We went back every day for a week to ‘play’ with it.

ALLISON: Is there someone who helped you become an artist that you can tell us about, and how they influenced you?

MARIE: My parents and family always encouraged me to pursue art. I also had some great teachers in school – namely, Celeste Topazio (elementary school) and Don Bartsch (jr & sr high). I am so grateful to them both.

ALLISON: When did you also become an author, and why?

MARIE: I always liked to write stories. As a kid I was constantly creating comic strips, writing plays and making my own books. It wasn’t until 2002 that I seriously started thinking about submitting my work and pursuing a career as an illustrator.

ALLISON: What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?

MARIE: Practice as much as you can. Work on developing a style, but be patient with yourself. These things take time.

ALLISON: You have two dogs and a cat. What has been your most fun adventure with them? Or what has been one of their fun solo adventures?

MARIE: Every day is an adventure. They are constantly getting into mischief of one kind or another. Like the time I found one of my dogs standing on our piano. I didn’t even know she played.

ALLISON: Please tell us more about your love of beach glass.

MARIE: There’s something about the colors and shapes that fascinate me–like little jewels. Knowing they have been in the ocean long enough to be shaped and smoothed, then suddenly ending up in my hand is extremely cool. I’m very particular about which pieces I take home. They need to have been well-worn by the ocean.

ALLISON: What’s something quirky about yourself?

MARIE: I like to collect old things. Old film projectors, dial-up telephones, typewriters, trunks, etc. I have a lot of my grandparents stuff, including a very heavy, metal (iron, I think) Art Deco table fan. It still works. My grandfather kept all of his things in immaculate working order.

ALLISON: What’s your next book and/or creative project?

MARIE: I’m in the process of brainstorming this one. I have a couple of ideas. I can’t really say exactly what it will be, but it may just involve an adventure at sea.

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Foxes, raccoons, and baby animals are the topics of the three picture books in my round-up this week. Two of the books are fun fiction selections. The other is a colorful smorgasbord of nature for young readers.

Argyle Fox by Marie Letourneau is an adorable tale of a fox who wants to play outside on a warm spring day but the wind keeps wreaking havoc with his activities. I love the upbeat narrative, which keeps me in anticipation. Fox diligently stacks and stacks cards, until he’s built the tallest tower in the world. The wind goes quiet and then–WHOOSH! Not to be deterred, Fox then creates a spider web, a pirate ship, a castle…. I also love the illustrations, which are engaging and filled with endearing details. The wind curves and swirls throughout the two-page spreads. There’s an otter in the river, cardinal near a tree stump, badger in the garden… Everything about Argyle Fox works. Fox is determined, then discouraged, but eventually he finds the perfect thing to play in the wind. Readers learn about problem solving and perseverance through an incredibly cute and engaging story. I can’t wait to read about Arygle Fox’s next adventure!

Audrey Penn’s first title in The Kissing Hand series placed in the NEA and the School Library Journal top 100 picture books for children. Chester Raccoon and the Almost Perfect Sleepover is the newest title. I love how every page shows sensitivity to the natural nervous anticipation of a first sleepover. At first, Chester Raccoon impatiently hops and skips on his way to Pepper Opossum’s home, and keeps asking his mom when they will get there. The very moment they arrive, however, he squeezes his mom’s hands. And when she leaves, he feels nervous. Although he’s soon racing around with his friends, when everyone curls up for a nap, Chester is unable to sleep. He misses home. I also appreciate the balance that Penn strikes between seriousness and humor. When Sassafras Skunk gets excited, he lets out a plum of purple gas he calls a “stinky puff.” Cute! Finally, the book is delightfully illustrated with big pictures and interesting scenes. The friends hang on branches, race over logs, skip stones across a pond, and roll in the dirt in laughter. I’ll be keeping watch for Penn’s other books!

Baby Animals by Dorothea DePrisco is a publication of Animal Planet. Every spread introduces a new topic and contains a lot of sidebars and infographics. I spent hours exploring the information. The pages are bright with bold text and big photos. They are a visual delight to explore. The adult in me wishes there was more structure. There is a table of contents and colorful tabs are the top of each spread guide readers through their Animal Bites adventures. However, the tabs get lost in all the colorful pages, and would have been more helpful if they stick-out ones. Or topics simply could have been grouped together instead of randomly mixed. This criticism aside, having been a school teacher, I know that young readers will be enamored with Baby Animals. I myself keep returning to it to read about such oddities as jacanas and planthoppers. There are also familiar creatures featured such as ferrets and bears. Check out supplemental educational cards at Animal Planet Animal Bites Fun Fact Cards.

Animal books have always been a favorite of mine. Imagine my delight to have this passion recognized with requests for animal-themed Advanced Reader Copies. Stay tuned for more in the months ahead!


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Summer Reviews

Books can take connect us with strangers, take us to unique places, and introduce us to new ideas. They can also offer hope in a chaotic world. And so I must share what I read!

Each week, I’ll introduce you to religious books, Advanced Reader Copies, animal books, or diversity books. Some I’ll review as singles and others as part of round-ups. Just ahead, there will be reviews of:

  • Joni: The unforgettable story of a young woman’s struggle against quadriplegia & depression by Joni Eareckson
  • The True Story of the World’s Most Beloved Animal Sanctuary by Samantha Glen
  • Brothers in hope : the story of the Lost Boys of Sudan–refugees by Mary Williams
  • The Inner Life of Cats by Thomas McNamee

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