Apr 15, 2012


I hope you've already met BRIAN LIES (looks like "lies" but rhymes with "cheese").

Just in case you're not familiar with his work, the 2012 release of MORE, by I. C. Springman and illustrated by Brian Lies, is an ideal introduction.

An incredibly intense visual experience combines with a few perfectly chosen words to create a marvelous story arc in this recent release. This book uses a progression of descriptive "quantity" words to indicate increasing amounts from nothing to something to enough on to too much. Then, like a receding tide, the story continues back to less, ending at the start- but not quite where it began.

If you aren't already a fan of birds, mice, and nature, not to mention magpies, you will be by the end of this book. The multiple subplots and subtexts, the expressive faces and body language, and the depth of theme make multiple rereadings and close examination a treat. The intricacies and humor of the details are utterly irresistible.

While the obvious theme is "Less is More", it also explores friendship, community efforts, and loyalty.

As Levar Burton always says on Reading Rainbow: "But don't take my word for it..." Other rave reviews about MORE can be found at KIRKUS REVIEWS and GEEKDAD blog.

Then take a look at even MORE of Brian Lies's work.

I'm an admitted bird-lover. Have been since I was a child. I came to an appreciation of bats much later in life. Separating fact from myth about bats with third graders will do that for you.
So will reading Brian Lies's titles about bats: BATS AT THE BALLGAME, BATS AT THE BEACH, and BATS AT THE LIBRARY.
These bats exude oodles of adventurous and comical personality despite the appropriately dark-hued images in each book. Rhymed verse adds appeal. Considering the fantastic premise of each story, a remarkable amount of accurate information about bats is revealed within the context of the stories.
Do yourself and any kids you know a favor and spend some time with Brian Lies. (And that includes his many other titles!)

Then stop back and let me know what you think.

Be sure to check comments below- Brian Lies was kind enough to stop by with some thoughts about his illustration process for MORE.
Sal's Fiction Addiction blogged about MORE this week, too.


  1. I LOVE these books. Thanks for the reminder. One of my daughters turns eight next week, and we don't own Bats at the Ballgame or Bats at the Beach. Thank you!

  2. Perfect timing with summer coming- but now she'll want to go to the beach at night to see the bats partying away.
    Take a look at MORE if you are at the store to shop (good chance to add my shout out for indy bookstores!) happy birthday to your daughter, too.

    1. Just bought Bats at the Ballgame last night at Boswell Books in Milwaukee! This comment thread is great(wow -- I love hearing from Brian Lies); I'm going to try to swing the Bat festival. My entire family is pretty nuts about bats. My husband really wanted to set up a roost in our backyard, which is a natural garden, but we can't because we're in the city -- the guano and all. Nice lively discussion, thanks to all.

  3. Thanks for the blog post, Sandy! I like your tide analogy, and especially like how you talked about the story arc, which was very important to me in creating the book. Though they're not necessarily noticeable, there are four visual arcs--the accumulation of the bird's possessions, as shown in the simple to complex to simple compositions, the progression of the handmade papers I used from simple to complex to simple, the coloring, from brightish to drab to brightish again, and the level of "self control" in the text.

    Happy Reading!

    1. Brian, it's a privilege to have you read and comment with such detail.
      I love the multiple layers of support these arcs provide to the story, which are so visible when pointed out. I'm also really excited about the subtle but readable expressiveness of the various characters, from Magpie and Mouse all the way down to the "bit players". You are clearly aware there really are no small parts, in More, Bats titles, or any of your work.
      Thanks again for stopping by.

  4. Hi Sandy,

    Great to share common thoughts on wonderful books. More is a book that I first 'read' while visiting with my daughter. I cannot tell you how many times I pored over the illustrations and the incredible story they told....gave me so much to think about in terms of spacing, expression and color. Good to 'meet' you. I now have a new blog to follow...thanks!

    1. Same here! I saw it on a bookstore display (the double-edged sword of stopping in for a quick pick-up) and had to have it. I agree completely about the many tools Brian brought to the table for this one, and that it appeals to all ages. Good to "meet" you, too, and to find your blog. You saved me counting out those elegant 44 words, too! Each one perfectly chosen and paced.

  5. Love these books. And thanks for the pronunciation note!!

    1. Miranda,
      Love having you stop by. To hear Brian describe the pronunciation himself, go to the bio page of his website and click on the top left link: http://www.brianlies.com/brian_lies_bio.htm.
      Since I know you're in the region, I'll mention that Brian will be the featured guest at the Madison Bat festival on Saturday, May 12 (Mother's Day weekend- no better moms around that mama bats!) in case you want to meet him.

  6. This is Sandy- I had an email notice of a further comment by Jenny (thanks, Jenny) that is not showing up here. I'm testing now to make sure comments are "taking". If someone comments and it doesn't display, would you please go the contacts tab and let me know? I'll do what I can to get things working right.
    Maybe a magpie snitched a widget?

  7. The new book looks great just from the cover. I'll be keeping an eye out for it. "Bats on the Beach" is one of my go-to books for summer reading story times or book talks. Such fun!

  8. So happy that you stopped by- you won't be disappointed when you find this one.
    It's early in the year, with many more remarkable releases coming, I'm sure, but I have no doubt this one will be under consideration for the 2012 Caldecott (yes, I said it here, in print :P)


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