The Enchanting Tales of Diva and Flea and Nanette

I have been deprived.

When I was growing up, I didn’t have a Mo Willems book in my life.  I was quite ignorant of my emptiness, but now I know.  Thankfully, due to the efforts of the fine folks at Hyperion Books, Mo has enriched my vocabulary with his delicate use of words.  Reading his books are like hearing the melody of the world running through my brain.  Can you believe these stories are for kids?

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Title: Nanette’s Baguette
Author: Mo Willems
Cost: $17.99
Age: All ages but perfect to read to children 3-5
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Genre: Children’s Books

Nanette’s Baguette showed up on my door one day and when I opened it up, I thought to myself, “What is this pickle frog thing?”  The cover was eye-catching.  That baguette just stood out on the cover.  Maybe it’s because it reminded me of the temptation of the fresh baguettes I found in France when we stayed there for a week during seminary.  Every morning we would wake up, go for a walk into town, and people everywhere would be walking with these beautiful fresh baguettes that were crunchy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside.  So yummy.

I related to poor Nanette who found it hard to resist the baguette.  But you needn’t know a thing about baguettes to enjoy Mo’s story.  His use of words is poetic (and not just because they rhyme).  An example? “Getting to get the baguette is Nanette’s biggest responsibility yet. Is Nanette set to get the baguette? You bet!”  As if that wasn’t enough, the artwork is so creative.  Mo mixed actual constructed sets (that he designed and created) with digitized illustrations to make the pictures come alive.  To top it off, the story is great. It’s about responsibility and mistakes and forgiveness and the love of a parent for a child.

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Title: The Story of Diva and Flea
Author: Mo Willems with illustration by Tony DiTerlizzi
Cost: $14.99
Age: All ages but a great book for kids
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children
Genre: Children’s Books

The Story of Diva and Flea actually came out late last year, but when Nanette showed up on my doorstep I thought to myself, “I think I have another Mo Willems book around here” and I found this on my bookshelf.  I’ve been meaning to read it for so long.  The beautiful illustration by Tony DiTerlizzi on the cover was somehow so inviting.   So I cracked it open.  It was different.  But in a wonderful way.  As a child, there were certain books that I just loved! They seemed to have this perfect balance of smiles and wit and feeling.  This is one of those books.

The concept of the story isn’t new – odd friendships that help us to grow to be better people (or cats and dogs).  But the story is well-paced, well-written, and the illustrations are so beautiful.  Tony was able to capture the essence of each character in their pictures and Mo articulated their personalities clearly and in a fun way.  I loved this exchange between Diva (the dog) and Flea (the cat) as Flea tried to explain who he was.

diva-and-flea

If you’re looking for a fun book for your children or as a gift for a grandchild who loves a good story, both of these are more than worthwhile.  Mo Willems is a master at storytelling so enjoy his talent as much as you can.

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