Books We Love

A Sketchy Past: The Art of Peter De S’ve

By Peter De S’ve and Amid Amidi

(Editions Akileos, $54.95)

There are plenty of reasons why New York-based illustrator/character designer Peter De S’ve has legions of fans all over the world. A friend once said when you look at one of his clever, exquisitely drawn illustrations, you feel like you’re jumping into the fresh waters of a hidden mountain stream. As Disney Pixar’s CCO John Lasseter points out, ‘De S’ve takes something you think you know and gives it to you in a way that you’ve never seen it before.’ The man, who designed Scrat and all the amazing beasts of the Ice Age saga, the graceful Tarzan from the 1999 Disney feature and many other characters from Robots, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Prince of Egypt, Mulan, and A Bug’s Life is the subject of a must-have book that arrives in stores in March. The 240-page collection features beautiful watercolors and pencil sketches by the prolific artist, some of which will be familiar to regular readers of The New Yorker. This handsome volume also includes a forward by Blue Sky director Chris Wedge and an insightful intro by Cartoon Brew blogger Amid Amidi. Surely, this is the definitive De S’ve book your coffee table will be pining for all year.

Daily Zoo Year 2: Keeping the Doctor at Bay with a Drawing a Day

By Chris Ayers (Design Studio Press, $19.95)

We’ve all heard the old saying about making lemonade when life gives you lemons, but few actually take the time to really act on it. Lucky for us, character designer Chris Ayers (Star Trek, The Cat in the Hat, Looney Tunes: Back in Action) decided to do just that when he was diagnosed with leukemia a few years ago. Ayers set out to deliver one animal/creature sketch each day of the year and chronicle his battle with blood cancer. The results of his efforts, which are collected in two volumes (the first one came out in 2009) are surprisingly upbeat, inspiring and life-affirming. ‘Though difficult at times’mainly due to time and energy constraints’I succeeded in my goal,’ he writes on his website. ‘I drew an animal each day for a year…and beyond! It has proved to be a very therapeutic endeavor and I encourage everyone to find ways to exercise and explore their own creativity, ideally on a daily basis.’ In addition, Ayers is donating a portion of the books’ proceeds to cancer-related charities. Bless the beasts, indeed.

Lawn to Lawn

By Dan Yaccarino (Knopf $17.99)

Those of us who keep an eye on the world of children’s animated shows on TV are always thrilled to see shows that are inspired by award-winning books illustrated by gifted artists. Nick Jr.’s Oswald and NBC/qubo’s Willa’s Wild Life are two such shows’both of which have been created by the talented artist Dan Yaccarino, who has also contributed to Nick’s Backyardigans series. The illustrator, who won many prizes last year for his The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau, is back again this month with another gem, titled Lawn to Lawn. The charming book centers on a group of abandoned lawn ornaments (a deer, flamingo, garden gnome and a jockey) who take a dangerous trip to track down their young friend Pearl who has moved away with her family. Yaccarino’s clean lines and perfect color scheme support a heart-warming tale that speaks volumes about the value of friendship. Hey studio big shots, how about a feature adaptation of this awesome tale?

Hugo and the Really, Really, Really Long String

By Bob Boyle (Random House, $15.99)

Since we’re highlighting projects by the creative forces behind today’s animated TV shows, we definitely have to let everyone know that Bob Boyle, the man behind the phenomenal series Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! and Yin Yang Yo! has also written his first children’s book. Boyle’s story centers on a curious, purple hippo named Hugo who just has to find out what awaits him at the end of a mysterious, red string. Aimed at young readers, the delightful geometric art style is reminiscent of Boyle’s popular TV toons. The story has a simple message about the importance of working toward a common goal and friendship and has a great surprise ending that will definitely delight the young readers in your family’and of course, you can simply enjoy it for the great drawings!