Awards for Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons
★"Dick and Jane may now pack up their things and leave town for good. In this little marvel of distilled storytelling, five wee seasonal vignettes, starting and ending with spring, place a spry young girl in familiar situations that give free rein to her curiosity and love of action...To know Lilly is to want to know what she has to say."
--Publishers Weekly (starred)
"Is this a picture book, a graphic novel for preschoolers, or a comic book? Doesn't matter. Just enjoy the simple but dynamite graphics from Agnès Rosenstiehl. It's as if Tintin had gone to preschool."
"Silly Lilly, a precocious young girl, explores the world around her with her trusty teddy bear in these fun graphic novels for beginning readers. In the first volume, Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons, Lilly participates in various activities associated with each season. In the spring, she goes to the park, and in the summer, the beach. Fall brings apple-picking and winter brings snow, until it’s back to spring again. In the second volume, Silly Lilly in What Will I Be Today?, Lilly tries out a new identity for each day of the week. She experiments with everything from cook to city planner to vampire. With no characters besides Lilly, this is truly a child’s perspective of the world, full of playfulness and wonder. And even though it features a female main character, her experiences should resonate with readers of all genders.
Silly Lilly is the English incarnation of the beloved French character Mimi Cracra, created by Agnès Rosenstiehl. The comics, originally serialized in a French newspaper starting in 1975, were eventually collected in bound volumes and developed into a television series. Rosenstiehl created these new stories based on Mimi Cracra especially for the TOON Books collection.
The simple art style is reminiscent of vintage comics like Little Orphan Annie and Little Jinx, but still feels fresh and modern. The bright, primary colors will appeal to the target audience. Most pages consist of two side-by-side panels that are easy to follow from left to right, introducing first-time comic readers to the format. The books themselves are presented beautifully, with thick, matte pages and sturdy, hardcover binding.
The books use basic words appropriate for early readers that would work as a read-aloud or as an independent book for those just starting to read. Other learning concepts like colors, days of the week, seasons, counting, and opposites are incorporated into the story without being explicit about it. Parents and educators can even use the lesson plans provided by the publisher for additional guided learning. An iOS app for reading the first book is also available for purchase. The Silly Lilly books would be a welcome addition to any collection that serves young readers."
--Kidsreads.com and Graphic Novel
"What is there about Comics that makes children like them so well?' An exasperated schoolteacher posed this question in an article from the 1940s chronicling the uphill battle she and her colleagues were then waging against comic books, which they considered sub-literary fare. The battle lines have long since been redrawn, the graphic novel having attained critical mass and the comics aesthetic having slowly inched its way toward children's literature respectability on the backs of occasional forays into the genre by Maurice Sendak and others, and of more sustained efforts such as the Little Lit series edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly. Now New Yorker art director Mouly, with Spiegelman as in-house adviser, takes the field again with the release of the first three titles from Toon Books, an innovative line of early readers presented in comics format.
On the evidence of Rosenstiehl's initial contribution, Dick and Jane may now pack up their things and leave town for good. In this little marvel of distilled storytelling, five wee seasonal vignettes, starting and ending with spring, place a spry young girl in familiar situations that give free rein to her curiosity and love of action. As Lilly plays in the park, finds a snail at the shore, samples a basket of apples, hurls snowballs and swings on a swing, her bright thoughts and warblings appear overhead in speech balloons, in words of one to three syllables. Twice, a teddy bear serves as the straight man; in the winter scene, for example, he impassively takes a snowball on the chin ('Oops! Sorry, Teddy! I was only kidding!'). This comic moment, like others that Rosenstiehl extracts from her rigorously pared-down materials, draws us directly into Lilly's emotional world, where attention is routinely paid to everything, from a lowly dandelion on up. To know Lilly is to want to know what she has to say.
Lilly, who is already familiar to children of the author's native France as Mimi Cracra, is Little Lulu with dance lessons. Apple-cheeked and graceful, she's nobody's fool, and her expressive action poses double as telltale clues to the child poised to begin decoding the printed word independently. Rosenstiehl's uncomplicated layouts two panes of equal size per page, four per spread and minimalist backdrops likewise keep the focus where it belongs: on the adventure of taking the measure of everyday things, whether it be a tiny sea creature washed up by a wave or the words I'm flying. Ages 4-up."
"This graphic-early-reader entry from Toon Books is itself an objet d'art. The slight story, in basic comic-book format, briefly and joyfully bounds through the seasons at the rate of four panels per page. The crisp, bright watercolors depict Lilly, a bouncy, endearing child with black pigtails and a vim for life, as she happily engages each season. In the spring chapter, "Silly Lilly at the Park," she shows her teddy bear want she likes to do at the park: dance, jump, and nap. In the summer, she daintily tiptoes through the shore's shallow water, clad in her red two-piece, finding little treasures and surprising herself with a snail hidden within a shell. Fall is summed up in bite-sized tastes of a sampling of colorful apples. Winter, of course, offers bountiful snow and Lilly's wayward snowballs. Emergent readers will be drawn to Lilly's ebullient perspective and captivated by the uncluttered layout; the easy lesson on the seasons is a bonus."
"Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons by Agnes Rosenstiehl explores each of the four seasons with a familiar sense of awe and wonder that we all felt as a child. This adorable book so creatively introduces young readers to the four seasons and to the inevitable changes that unfold outdoors. Written in comic book style, Silly Lilly caught my daughter’s attention and inspired a bedtime conversation ranging from the many different colors of apples to the way sand feels under our toes at the beach. The teacher in me loved the fact that this book is so naturally and playfully interwoven with many literary elements such as sight words, color words, sequencing, and Science concepts. My daughter delighted in the bright and colorful illustrations, and was able to easily connect with the character, Silly Lilly. Geared for children ages four through eight, Silly Lilly is an excellent addition to our children’s literature collection! (We all need a little Silly Lilly in us, don’t we?) Buy Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons by Agnes Rosenstiehl on Amazon."
--Smart Baby Kid
"After having recently looked at the genesis of Francoise Mouly's excellent Toon Books (first comics for brand-new readers) and the recent Art Spiegelman Jack And The Box which I thought was wonderful, I thought a spin through some of the other Toon Books might be called for.
Like all Toon Books, the first thing you'll notice about Silly Lilly is the beautiful presentation of this exquisite hardback with sumptuous design. Louise (my dear wife) and Molly (age 9) read this one first and both really enjoyed it. Louise was particularly taken with it and said it really reminded her of the sorts of books she remembers from her childhood. Having read it later myself I have to concur with these two esteemed judges of great books. Silly Lilly is just delightful, simple words and clear art that just entrance readers young and old.
The Silly Lilly character is based on Rosenstiehl's 'Mimi Cracra' character published for years in her native France and is a masterfully simple tale. Or rather a series of five tales, cycling through the seasons, beginning and ending with spring. Each season takes just five pages including the title page, but that's enough, as the energetic and graceful Lilly dances her way across the pages, playing in the park with Teddy, exploring the beach, tasting apples in the fall, playing in the snow and finally flying on a swing. Each tale focuses on one simple thing, but does so in such a way that a child can find a real bond with this fun little girl.
The economy of story-telling is perfect for the age group with each page just two large panels, of clear black line and a subtle watercolor texture on the minimalist backgrounds. The language is as minimal as the backgrounds, never too difficult and with each sentence ending with an exclamation mark, it's a fun, fast read.
It's quite the perfect book for an emerging reader and, as discovered by Louise, one that may have as much appeal to an older audience, who'll see a nostalgic look back to the simple picture books of their childhood. Either way, it's quite lovely. "
Minimal text and simple cartoons follow Silly Lilly through the course of a year. Each seasonal adventure is a complete story in which the child delights in the smallest discoveries. She wonders about a tiny snail, the taste of fall apples, and snow. The quiet humor will not bring on belly laughs, but will be appreciated by young audiences. The simplified comic-book format has one to two panels per page. Each panel has one dialogue balloon; each balloon has a single sentence. The short sentences and large print make this a good choice for beginning readers. The descriptive illustrations assist with the storytelling and make this book adaptable for preliteracy conversations. This small-sized book is best read alone or shared one to one.
"Spunky Lilly dances, skips, and jumps through the pages of this charming book as she explores each season's distinct pleasures, which include springtime in a park, a beach in summer, apple picking in the fall, and snow in the wintertime. With its simple text and illustrations, this comic is perfect for new readers."
--School Library Journal
"Another successful entry in the new Toon imprint (see Benny and Penny and Otto's Orange Day, also reviewed in this issue), this book is aimed at brand-new readers. Rosenstiehl follows Lilly (who appears to be three or four years old) as she undertakes simple, familiar activities through the seasons. In spring, she plays with her toy bear in the park; in summer, she's off to the beach; in fall, she picks and eats apples; in winter, she plays in the snow. When spring returns, she soars on a swing. Lilly is bold and engaging in both her rounded, childlike appearance and her heartfelt approach to the real world and to her imagined one. The text is very brief (only a few words per panel), the colors are warm and bright, and the panels are large enough to draw in children new to books and reading. A good fit for the intended audience."
"Silly Lilly is a very basic comic book designed for early readers. The text is simple and relies on lots of repetition, and the pictures are also repetitious: Each two-page spread contains four panels, with Lilly in the center of each one, performing simple actions appropriate to the seasons --- wading in the sea, eating apples, etc.
The pages and layouts have a very uniform look to them. Each panel is an upright rectangle containing a full-body shot of Lilly, a horizon line, a speech balloon, and a few objects that are germane to the story (teddy bears, apples, etc.). There are no close-ups or shifts in point of view; it’s almost like looking at a set of playing cards spread on the table. To the adult eye, this monotony is off-putting; it makes the book seem contrived and stiff. (Lucy’s standard pose, torso facing front and head facing to the side like an Egyptian painting, doesn’t help.)
For young readers, however, the simplicity may be a plus. There are few distractions from the text, and the rhythm of repeated panels is reassuring. The text is very simple, fewer than 10 words per speech balloon and only one balloon per panel, with plenty of repetition.
Each of the five chapters opens with a title panel, leaving seven panels to tell the story. Not surprisingly, the stories are very simple: Lilly discusses what she likes to do in the park; Lilly throws snowballs and hits her teddy bear; Lilly climbs on a swing, loses her balance and then swings. Again, boring for the adult but simple enough to be pleasing to a child who is just mastering reading, as each chapter will feel like an accomplishment.
Other than chapter titles, there is only one type of text in this book: Lucy’s comments, which are all in word balloons, just as in other comics. The words and the art work together to tell the story --- the pictures alone won’t suffice.
Agnes Rosenstiehl’s art is simple and almost Art Deco in style; shapes are simple, colors are unmodulated and bounded by heavy lines. This rather cool style holds the reader at arm’s length but also gives the book a simple, pleasing and timeless look.
SILLY LILLY AND THE FOUR SEASONS is neither a laugh riot nor a thrill a minute, but the simple shapes and straightforward stories may be just right for an early reader for whom just being able to read an entire story is thrill enough."
--Kidsreads.com and Graphic Novel
"Let's begin with SILLY LILLY AND THE FOUR SEASONS, by French children's book author Agnès Rosenstiehl. This is the book I'd first introduce to the youngest readers, perhaps as young as two or three. The concepts and action in this book are simple: Lilly experiences the seasons through a series of activities: playing in the park in spring with her teddy, looking for things in the ocean in the summer, picking apples in the fall, making snowballs in the winter and flying on a swing back in the next spring. The images here are simple and Rosenstiehl's line is warm. That warmth will immediately draw in young readers who are used to similar imagery in books they've seen up to that point in their lives. The panel-to-panel transitions here as Lilly throws a snowball or gets on a swing are simple to understand and will spur on a child's understanding of how movement can be portrayed on the page."