I knew it was going to be a fun day when I saw children’s book author and illustrator Suzanne Bloom walk into the library carrying a large paper mache pig. Bloom, the author of A Splendid Friend, Indeed, among other popular picture books for young children, spent the day at Inly yesterday. The kids were enthralled from the beginning, especially when Bloom read two of her stories with great enthusiasm.
It was entertaining to watch Bloom good naturedly field questions and comments from our youngest students. My favorites were: “We have an Elf on the Shelf in our house.” “I’m going to write a blue book today.” And “how do you know what words to wroted?” Just as you would expect from the creator of the gentle Polar Bear and his energetic friend Goose, Bloom welcomed their “announcements” with patience and good cheer.
After her first two presentations, I had a chance to talk with Bloom about her picture book career, and she told me how surprised and delighted she was six years ago when A Splendid Friend, Indeed was named a Theodor Seuss Geisel Beginning Reader Honor Book. Looking at one of the original pastel paintings, I was able to appreciate how vibrant and beautiful her paintings of the two characters are. The white bear is made up of lots of colors that give him texture and substance. The goose has wonderful expressions. Both characters stand out boldly on the rich blue backgrounds. Of course, I asked Bloom about her illustrators she admires, and right away, she mentioned Patricia Polacco for the “exuberance of her lines” and G. Brian Karas for everything he does.
Bloom also spent time with our 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students, and emphasized the importance of, as she described them, “do overs.” She showed them lots of work that didn’t feel right and explained the importance of starting over as many times as it takes – a good message to hear in this age of instant gratification.
Suzanne Bloom’s books remind us of the importance and effectiveness of simplicity. Her stories are never fussy or overdone. They work because they are funny and genuine – and yes, you could even describe them as splendid.