You Are New: Lucy Knisley’s Children’s Book
It’s becoming the thing to do for comic artists to expand into children’s picture books.
The differences are minimal but significant in terms of publishing audiences and format. A children’s book is usually a larger hardcover (easier for little hands to manipulate), with captioned images instead of word balloons, and fewer but larger pictures. Kate Beaton has released a couple, and so has Vera Brosgol. (She also illustrated someone else’s story to hilarious effect.)
My favorite artist, Lucy Knisley, illustrated Margaret and the Moon, a picture book biography, a couple of years ago. Now she’s written and drawn her own, You Are New.
It’s written to a baby, explaining what they can do even though they’re young. They have senses and sleep a lot, when they’re not being carried or bathed. Even as they grow, there are plenty of new things to learn and try. I found it all very inspiring, even as an adult. And for a simple concept, there’s a lot of content here, covering a lot of activities and options.
The two-page spreads often serve as a rhyming couplet, and Knisley’s sense of humor is on display, with one of them being
You can open wide and yell.
Sometimes you make funny smells.
The book uses Knisley’s unique sense of color, with a notable lack of any black lines, and sometimes overlap and rough edges where the blobs interact. It feels raw and immediate and approachable. There are all shades of skin color, emphasizing how much babies have in common. It’s a terrific thing to read to a child.