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'Another Perfect Day' and 'Yellow Umbrella'

<i>Another Perfect Day</i> by Ross MacDonald (Roaring Brook, 2002).
Another Perfect Day by Ross MacDonald (Roaring Brook, 2002).
<i>Yellow Umbrellas</i> by Jae-Soo Liu (Kane/Miller, 2002.
Yellow Umbrellas by Jae-Soo Liu (Kane/Miller, 2002.

A charming pair of children's books have caught the attention of Daniel Pinkwater, Weekend Edition's primary source of insight on new reading material for youngsters.

Another Perfect Day, by Ross MacDonald and Yellow Umbrella, by Jae-Soo Liu, are two quite different books that both emphasize the power of illustration.

Yellow Umbrella has no words, but it comes with a CD of music meant to accompany the reading of the book, as well as sheet music and lyrics. Periods of silence signal that a page should be turned. It's inspiration is the colorful umbrellas carried by children when it rains.

"What remained in my mind was the visual image of the harmonized colors and movements of the umbrellas," author and illustrator Jae-Soo Liu says. The music is composed by Dong Il Sheen.

"Every painting is a painting, the music is... sweet. It's a lovely book," Pinkwater tells NPR's Scott Simon on Weekend Edition.

Another Perfect Day tells the story of Jack, who encounters many adventures en route to his job as a flavor tester at the ice cream factory. MacDonald, a magazine illustrator, evokes a sense of the era just before World War II. Jack's adventures, which range from battle with a robotic monster to a Superman-style rescue. But as the book progresses, things go "a little funny" and Jack finds that he's involved in a dream.

Pinkwater says that Another Perfect Day evokes "age five, waking up on a beautiful June morning," and that "some grandparents will have a lot of fun reading this to children and explaining to them that this is how the world once looked and how it once looked to me."

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
Daniel Pinkwater