Books by Jimmy Liao

FILBERT by Hiawyn Oram
CHILDREN'S
Released: July 9, 2013

"For fans of Ferdinand and anyone who wants to share the message of celebrating or at least respecting differences. (Picture book. 4-6)"
An adorable little fiend that looks a bit like a Wild Thing is—disappointingly—anything but. Read full book review >
THE WORLD CHAMPION OF STAYING AWAKE by Sean Taylor
BEDTIME BOOK
Released: July 1, 2011

Dad announces that it's time for bed, and she sets to work getting her three favorite toys to sleep. Cherry Pig, Thunderbolt (a plush mouse) and Beanbag Frog all declare they're wide awake. Gathering them, Stella lays them gently on her pillow and lifts them into the air, "dream[ing] the pillow into something." They dream an ocean, the pillow a ship rocking on the waves. Cherry Pig imagines herself snuggling on a haystack in the loft; she's asleep. Thunderbolt and Beanbag Frog, however, remain awake and full of energy. Stella puts them in a box and, pushing it across the floor, says it's a train. Mouse and frog are transported to the midnight run; Thunderbolt imagines them riding magic horses through the air; he's asleep too. "Starship balloon" proves the way to make Beanbag Frog sleepy. She carries them all to bed and follows their lead. Taylor makes each of the toys' dreams a poem, which nicely counterpoints the simple main story, though some of the images both in the verse and pictures seem arbitrary. Liao's watercolors are bright, and all the characters look adorable. The ample white space in book's design invites readers in and transitions the characters from reality into their imaginations. Read full book review >
I CAN BE ANYTHING! by Jerry Spinelli
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2010

A young boy wonders aloud to a rabbit friend what he will be when he grows up and imagines some outrageous choices. "Puddle stomper," "bubble gum popper," "mixing-bowl licker," "baby-sis soother" are just some of the 24 inspiringly creative vocations Spinelli's young dreamer envisions in this pithy rhymed account. Aided by Liao's cleverly integrated full-bleed mixed-media illustrations, which radiate every hue of the rainbow, and dynamic typesetting with words that swoop and dive, the author's perspective on this adult-inspired question yields some refreshingly child-oriented answers. Given such an irresistible array of options—"So many jobs! / They're all such fun"—the boy in the end decides, in an exuberant double gatefold, "I'm going to choose… / EVERY ONE!"—a conclusion befitting a generation expected to have more than six careers each. Without parents or peers around to corral this carefree child's dreams, the possibilities of being whatever one wants appear both limitless and attainable. An inspired take on a timeless question. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >
THE MONSTER WHO ATE DARKNESS by Joyce Dunbar
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2008

Though bedroom monsters are a dime a dozen, this one's a bit different. Looking like a black wombat with a bright-red clown nose, the Creature that lurks under wakeful young Jo-Jo's bed is but the size of an ant. A hungry one, however, who starts absorbing all the darkness it can find. Going the "Fat Cat" route, the monster proceeds to swell as it sucks the dark not just from the bedroom but from the entire world and beyond—leaving confusion and dismay in its wake, until "There were no shadows and hardly any dreams. There was only the light. The stark and staring light." Liao, a popular Taiwanese illustrator, creates polished, sometimes wordless cartoon scenes featuring a monster whose only scary characteristic is its eventual humongous size. Ultimately Jo-Jo's tears draw the behemoth back to Earth, where a cuddle and a "darkness lullaby" puts them both to sleep and allows all the darkness to leach back into the universe. Not exactly entropy in action, but a cozy, if lengthy, bedtime tale nonetheless. (Picture book. 5-7) Read full book review >
THE BLUE STONE by Jimmy Liao
by Jimmy Liao, illustrated by Jimmy Liao, adapted by Sarah L. Thomson
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2008

From the artist who brought us The Sound of Colors (2006) comes a book by turns haunting and beautiful. When a blue stone that lies at the heart of a forest is split into two, one half is taken away. The piece that leaves yearns to return to the forest but instead finds itself transformed over and over, carved into an elephant, a bird, a fish, and a moon. Over the years, it crumbles a little when it thinks of home, and it is turned into smaller and smaller objects like a juggling ball or a heart on a necklace. Finally, when the stone is nothing but dust, it blows across the ocean back to the forest where it is reunited with its other half. There is a meditative simplicity and sweet sadness to Liao's imagery. At 80 pages it defies normal categorization, but the text never overstays its welcome. An effective allegory for any person who has ever longed for home, however they choose to define it, although perhaps too remote in its metaphor for many children. (Picture book. 5-10)Read full book review >
THE SOUND OF COLORS by Jimmy Liao
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2006

A girl addresses the reader calmly: "A year ago I began to notice that my sight was slipping away." But today she walks out to the subway under a bright yellow umbrella, wearing large round sunglasses. "There are some things I need to find." When she goes down the subway stairs, a humongous rabbit, like an anime creature, peers from behind the latticework. She gets off at a station, climbing up the long stairs "as slowly as an elephant." Readers see a procession of the beasts in brightly patterned shirts climbing before her. At another station she wonders, if she steps out, will she be in the ocean with the dolphins? And if she steps off into the air, would the air hold her, as it teaches the birds to fly? The illustrations are really wonderful, full of imagination and glow, turning what this blind child sees in her mind's eye into visions. Left unfinished, her journey offers a hint of what it must mean to cope with the darkness. (Picture book. 5-9)Read full book review >