Friday, January 28, 2011

I'm the Best by Lucy Cousins

Lucy Cousins is the author-illustrator of the infamous Maisy mouse books.
But in her latest picture book, she takes on Dog, who thinks that he is Dog spelled backwards, if you know what I mean. Full of hubris, he brags to his friends Ladybug, Mole, Goose and Donkey "I AM the BEST" when he beats them at unevenly matched contests. (He can dig better than Goose and swim better than Donkey). His friends start to feel pretty bad until they gently remind him that, actually, they are the best at some things too.

Dog apologizes to his friends, and they tell him, "Don't worry, Dog. You are the best at being our best friend. And you are the best at having beautiful fluffy ears. And we love you." The book could end there and be a sweet story with a teachable moment, but Cousins throws in a laugh on the last page which finds Dog right back to his old self. "Oh, phew! Obviously having beautiful fluffy ears in the most important thing. So I AM the BEST."

Here is what Cousins says about working on this book:

"I'm the Best I really enjoyed because it was with inks rather than paints, so it felt new. The line is a pencil drawn line rather than a brush stroke. So I'm starting to feel that I like experimenting to find something different and a little bit fresh. With I'm the Best, I wanted it to be very, very bold, almost like my sketchbooks. Often when I'm doing my sketches for ideas they have a real vitality to them, and when I've redone that page seven times and had a go at a few colored paintings it's quite hard to keep that freshness."

I love the artwork in this book. The dog, with his checkered little shorts is so expressive and the artwork is so child-like and non-intimidating. It all looks so simple and effortless, but as illustrators, we know that's not the case...!

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