Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Book of the Day: Steady Hands:Poems About Work by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy

#6 in the HMH Book of the Day series:

Steady Hands: Poems About Work
by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
9780618903511, $16, Clarion

This hardcover picture book harkens back to the post I did earlier about picture books for adults (Part I is posted, Part II is coming soon). Published by Clarion Books just last year in 2009, everything about this book screams “made for an adult audience here!”. From the sophisticated collage-style, often abstract artwork (not that children can’t also appreciate, understand, and create this type of artwork) to the free verse, deep though poetry about various types of jobs adults have, I can’t really imagine children under the age of 12-14 enjoying this book in the “Can we read that book before going to bed?” sort-of-way.

That said, not being a child any more myself (despite whatever my parents may tell me), I greatly enjoy this book and keep a copy above my desk at work. Not only is the cover illustration inspiring, but if I need some inspiration, it’s fun to take a 2-minute break and read about what someone else may be doing for work right that very minute, say as a Dog Walker, Filmmaker, Personnel Administrator, or even:

Paid daydreamer
imaginary soothsayer
odd-fact researcher,
the writer
hovers like a hummingbird
by the
answering machine
holding her breath while
scanning e-mails
listening to messages
sifting through junk mail
waiting, waiting,
forever waiting,
for the next
or call.

The artwork, in particular, is what draws me to this book, especially the displaced ISBN/barcode on the back cover. I love collage-style art, and also am a huge fan of this illustrator duo, who have numerous other picture books together. Going back to my earlier point about the “sophisticated, often abstract artwork”, just to emphasize how much children can appreciate it, this duo has co-illustrated one of my favorite high concept picture book series: Trains (9780761455936, Marshall Cavendish, $6.99), Cars (9780761456162, $6.99), Airplanes (9780761453888, $14.99), Trucks (9780761453284, $6.99), and Boats (9780761455240, $17.99).

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