I recently stumbled across a collection of children’s books written and illustrated by John Butler and published by Peachtree. I immediately fell in love. Growing up in a cottage in Trent, South East England, he developed a love of drawing nature at an early age.
His love for creating scenes and stories for children is very evident. It is obvious that he has taken time to study the animals and places which he represents in his drawings. The illustrations almost look like they were copied from a photograph at times, they are that realistic. Yet he captures a softness and a magic in his work that I’m certain I would miss if I were staring at the natural surroundings. It is beauty. His work, I would say, is appealing to both adults for the skill and children for the way that he makes animals approachable.
Our first introduction to Butler was in reading Can You Cuddle Like a Koala? Not only did my 2 year old and I enjoy the pictures, but we also enjoyed winking like an owl, creeping like a mouse, stretching like a tiger and hugging like a bear. My son laughed and laughed as we made our way through the book, acting out like the animals in the book.
The stories are simplistic so as to appeal to younger children. I would say that these books are for ages 2-4, mostly. There are just a few words on a page, and the ones that are there are mostly to suggest that you interact with the book and the animals in some way. They are easy readers that can have you stomping about like elephants and swinging like monkeys. These books promote good times, plain and simple. They would be great for a group of youngsters, say at a library story time or a birthday party, inspiration for a trip to the zoo or to just exercise your imagination. I like the way Butler encourages you to explore the world through his illustrations and stories. These are remarkably well done and I encourage you to seek these books out.