Henry in Love by Peter McCarty
In Peter McCarty's Henry in Love, magic can be found in the simplest pleasures of an ordinary school day. The main character gets ready for school and decides that this is the day that he is going to talk to the loveliest girl in the class. Perfect cartwheels, games of tag, and the sharing of afternoon snacks follow.
The look of McCarty's characters is quite special. The illustrations are reminiscent of two children's classics. Henry and his classmates, all animals, recall the characters from Rosemary Wells' Max and Ruby books, but with smaller eyes and a less cartoony demeanor. They look sweet without treading into cutesy territory. The wide margins and very selective use of color reminds one of Ian Falconer's Olivia books.
But don't expect this to be a retread of either series, for McCarty defines his world with its own sense of grace and beauty. Simplicity and intricate detail collide in the illustration where Henry meets a football player on the way to school. As they pass the ball a few times, branches with hundreds of tiny leaves, each one hand drawn, delicately sway overhead. McCarty's book focuses on the beauty of the little things, little exchanges, and little people. If you and a little one are looking for a nice peaceful book to snuggle up to, Henry in Love is a definite winner.