Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney
Jerry Pinkney is a god. I think that's my whole review. No, wait, I have to mention that this book is wordless (except for beautifully lettered onomatopoeia incorporated into the paintings).
In a year when Jerry Pinkney also illustrated The Moon Over Star, I think he is his own stiffest competition for a Caldecott.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Wonder Bear by Tao Nyeu
I'm not usually sucked in by the wordless beautiful magical dream journey type of picture book. I'm one of the few people I know who wasn't entranced by The House in the Night. Imagine a Night leaves me worse than cold. And I seem to remember some kind of flying magic bed book that made me actually groan.
But man, I love Wonder Bear. I love the wordless narrative - so simple that even a five-year-old can follow and predict, yet so subtle that his older brother will find repetitions and clues to the dream logic at work.
I love the technique - Tao Nyeu does some neat things with layering colors in her silk screen prints; I love the colors, and I love the style. The bulbous shapes, repeating patterns, and swirly clouds make me think of Central Asian and Siberian embroidery: simple shapes that gain strength through repetition. I'm totally going to steal some of her tree shapes for my niece's baby blanket.
This book has been given the high-class treatment by Dial. Lush, toothy paper, large size, and a dust jacket that is not merely a repeat of the book's cover. You can tell that someone on Hudson Street thinks this book is something special. For once, I really have to agree.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
South by Patrick McDonnell
The first two-page spread of this gorgeous little picture book made me catch my breath. On the left we see the top half of a tree, bare of leaves and full of little yellow birds, all looking in the same direction and each with a pair of eighth-notes hanging in the air overhead. On the right, it's the same view of the same tree, and all the birds are on the wing and flying out of sight. So minimal, but you can feel the chill in the air, hear their wings, see them fly.
The rest of the book is just as expressive, just as minimal, and displays, in a way that is probably difficult to discern in a tiny newspaper strip, just how good Patrick McDonnell, the creator of Mutts, is with a brush. Big hearts come in small packages sometimes.
Would make a lovely thank-you gift for a friend who has helped when you were in a jam, a talented teacher, or someone who has just pointed you on your way. I'll have to remember this one at the end of the school year.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wave by Suzy Lee
Holy wackadoodle. Masterful, internationally-acclaimed author-illustrator Suzy Lee uses a stick of charcoal and one color of acrylic paint and NOTHING ELSE - no words - and chronicles a little girl's encounter with the ocean. In just a few sketched lines, she gives us eager, curious, hesitant, exuberant, intimidated... a new expression every page. It's like the best frames from a whole day of home video, silent except for the call of gulls and the sound of waves, condensed into a slideshow to watch over and over again.
In fact, replace the seagulls with pelicans, and the little girl with my 6-year-old, and you've got our vacation. I took that video myself.