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this week's library book

I'm a big fan of Leo Lionni, and I remember so many of his books from when I was a kid. But I didn't know that Mr. Lionni was an ad man.. and a graphic designer (running his own studio for 20 years).. and the art director for Fortune magazine.. and an accordion player.. and the editor of Print.. and could speak five languages.

Of course he was a graphic designer.. his books always seem to be more about the pictures than the words. I think that's why children love them so much. Even my little ones who can't quite read can figure out the story, and after hearing it once or twice, can sit and "read" his books. (Especially this one, which is short and pretty simple.)

His first children's book was created as a distraction for his grandchildren during a boring train trip.. I can see him with his notepad drawing on the train, making the story up as it goes along while his grandchildren laugh and watch. It was the story of a little blue dot and a little yellow dot.. Little Blue and Little Yellow.

Little blue and little yellow are best friends. Little yellow lives with mama and papa yellow, and little blue lives across the street with his parents, mama blue and papa blue.

Little blue and little yellow go to school together, where they sit in neat rows. After school they run and jump with their friends.

One day while they are out playing, they hug each other and become.. green!

When they go back home, their parents don't recognize them. "You are not little yellow, you are not little blue.. you are green!" Which makes them so sad they cry and cry until they are a puddle of blue and yellow tears. Then they pull themselves together and run home to their families. 

A clever little book told in simple shapes and words.. it even has lovely endpapers. (A good graphic designer never forgets the details!)

You can read more about Mr. Lionni here, an essay written by his granddaughter.

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Reader Comments (37)

My children loved this book when they were little! All of Leo Lionni's books are wonderful. We loved "Fredrick" also!! We were so lucky to hear Mr. Lionni speak at the Aspen Design Conference about 18 years ago. What a wonderful man! Thank you for sharing.

03.4.2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I love reading inchmark, especially the posts about library books. My one year old and I love to read together.
Quick question re: fabric scraps memory game. I have some left over fat quarters that would be perfect for this, but it seems the template you provided doesn't make squares like yours are. Is it just me misreading the template dimensions, or does the template match how your cards turned out? Either way, I'd love a bit more direction on this project when you have a second. I'm planning to make a few sets for my nieces in CA that I'm flying out to see Sunday. Thanks so much, and keep up the beautiful work.

03.4.2009 | Unregistered CommenterNora

Nevermind, took a second look and it's clear as day now. Thanks anyway:)

03.4.2009 | Unregistered CommenterNora

I absolutely adore this story. I read Leo Lionni as a child but didn't discover this book until I took a children's lit course in University. Thanks for reminding me about it. It's on my library list for this week.

03.4.2009 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

I LOVE the design of Weekend Sewing btw...beautiful cover/book.

03.4.2009 | Unregistered Commentertia

I never knew about this book. It makes me want to have someone little to read it to... I remember *Swimmy* quite fondly; the school of fish swimming together as one big fish reminds me of Finny Fish, a fish-shaped Calder mobile made of glass and other found objects, which I saw when I was little at the National Gallery in D.C. (my hometown). I hope it's still there.

03.4.2009 | Unregistered CommenterAnni

I am about to become an aunty (hopefully tomorrow) and your library book entries have given me great ideas for building up a library for my new nephew or niece. thank you

x gabrielle from summerpicnicwedding.blogspot.com/

03.4.2009 | Unregistered CommenterGabrielle

To me, his books seem to be as much (or more) about the text as the illustrations. Have you read Frederic (role of the artist in society)? Or Swimmy (the value of working together)? Thank you for letting me know more about this wonderful author!

03.4.2009 | Unregistered CommenterLecia

How you can make a trip to the library into a work of art. You have a gift with photography. Such a simple post, yet I am loving what you've done with it.

Oh, wish I had that book when the kids were little. I really like it.


03.4.2009 | Unregistered Commenterjulie

I have this very book pulled for my class of preschoolers next week. What a coincidence. It is soooo perfect and cute.

03.5.2009 | Unregistered CommenterAdrienne

cute book! I know I have seen that one around, but I don't believe we've ever sat down and read it.. I will have to look into his books at our library.

03.5.2009 | Unregistered CommenterKatieG

I love seeing your weekly library books! I work in a library and have two kids ages 4 and almost 2. I wanted to suggest a book to you that my kids love and is so fun to read aloud: Jimmy Zangwow's Out-of-this-World Moon Pie Adventure by Tony DiTerlizzi.

03.5.2009 | Unregistered CommenterBrandi

I just love the library books you put on and wanted to say, "Thanks for sharing!"

03.5.2009 | Unregistered Commenterleni

I can't help it- I love the sweet little arms and hands so much, I barely notice the book!

03.5.2009 | Unregistered CommenterRachel B.

Awwwww... what a cute little story. Adorable.

03.5.2009 | Unregistered CommenterDionne C

I still have my original copy of "Little Blue and Little Yellow", a childhood favourite. My father worked in advertising... the book has that great 60's feel to it.

03.5.2009 | Unregistered CommenterSasha

What a clever little book?! So clean and contemporary in it's simplicity and style.
Thanks for sharing.
PS: LOVED your birthday post (for B--I think her name is) with the felt crown, circle shaped food, and decor. I'm having a party for my 4 year old son and so I made him a felt crown (followed your design to some degree but with boy-ish colors). It turned out to be more like a Pope hat/crown!? haha. I made it a bit too tall...regardless, he loves it (which is all that matters, really) and I enjoyed creating it.
Thanks for letting me mooch off of your creative genius :)

03.5.2009 | Unregistered CommenterJoan

I always love seeing your children's book posts. I loved the background info you shared on this author--how he wrote it while on the train with his grandchildren. Children love hearing about those details too. Thanks for sharing!

03.6.2009 | Unregistered Commentertiffany

i gave this book to my niece one year for christmas and it's turned in to one of her favorites.

03.6.2009 | Unregistered CommenterD R E W

i'd totally forgotten about this, but seeing your photographs immediately jogged my memory! I remember loving this book. I must get it at our next library trip, i think my kids would love it :) thankyou!

03.6.2009 | Unregistered Commenterlesley

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