Monday, October 13, 2008

Wonder Bear by Tao Nyeu - review

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.


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