Again, Shaun Tan proves he is one of the most talented artists publishing today. There are absolutely no words in this illustrated story of an immigra...moreAgain, Shaun Tan proves he is one of the most talented artists publishing today. There are absolutely no words in this illustrated story of an immigrant coming to a new, strange land. Yet, it's quite poignant and lovely to "view."
The images are presented to resemble aged and worn photographs, as if this story happened a long time ago. They're stunning. I would love to see the original drawings in person. One series of "photos" documents the clouds in the sky as the lead character, a man, travels over an ocean to reach a new country.
A number of times, the traveling man must communicate with other inhabitants of this land, and I love that Tan has the man draw the subject of his queries because words and letters are useless. In fact, the lettering that appears in the story is from no known alphabet--it most closely resembles some combination of hieroglyphics and the Cyrillic alphabet.
Another image that just creases my heart is one of three joined hands, each one belonging to a member of the man's family. Tan mimics that shape in the creation of an origami bird, which eventually transforms into a winged creature representing hope for many, not just the man.
It's an awesome read, and like the rest of Tan's oeuvre, provides fodder for great discussions between younger and older readers.
Check out http://www.shauntan.net/books.htmla to acquaint yourself with Shaun Tan, the author and illustrator, and his books. Plus, he posts interviews and news about film adaptations of his books (The Red Tree, Terry!).
This book features compelling stories and luscious art, but what I appreciated most were the three brief essays that introduced the work. The first es...moreThis book features compelling stories and luscious art, but what I appreciated most were the three brief essays that introduced the work. The first essay was a tad chewy with that academic profundity that sticks to the roof of my mouth, but it did send me on a dream about the making of photographs: how the camera is a machine, but definitely can be considered to be imbued with magical properties (it mimics an eye, which is the window to the soul, so what does that make the camera?).
The second essay is cleaner and more pragmatic about what is outsider photography (but still residing in some kind of tower), and uses colorful details and examples to prove its point. The third essay is written by someone who actually has had personal experience with outsider artists, so it just cuts to the bone and really provides the best send off to view the art that follows. The group of essays together is worth reading to enhance the visual experience to follow.
The book features Henry Darger and Adolf Wolfli (both of whom are very well known to anyone acquainted with the "outsider art" concept). But, it also includes C.T. McClusky (if you like Darger, you'll be interested in his work), Lee Godie (a female who proclaims she's better than Cezanne), Richard Shaver (a sci-fi writer who started to believe it all--kinda like R.L.H.--don't sue me, Tom Cruise!), and many others.
After reading and viewing the book, I didn't come away with a concrete idea of what outsider photography is, but I was better informed and ready with a more shaped opinion. (less)
This book was a heady read, and I thoroughly loved it. It was Randy climbing up to the second-floor bathroom to see Julie again; Claire and Bender's f...moreThis book was a heady read, and I thoroughly loved it. It was Randy climbing up to the second-floor bathroom to see Julie again; Claire and Bender's first kiss in the janitor's closet; and Lloyd telling Corey and D.C. he's ready to be hurt.
I appreciated how the two authors presented the intoxicating rush of potential that Nick and Norah ride from their first meeting to the last page of the book. I totally identified with Norah (OMG, someone else who thinks the Bs are not alpha and omega), which made me crash hard for Nick, so I'm not taking sides about which writing worked more. I think both authors are talented, and I will sample their individual works in the future.
This book is not for you if you find profanity and BJs intolerable, or if your favorite thing to wear in 7th grade was a pink sweatshirt with a kitten applique. However, if you got all of the references I dropped in the beginning, if you're a sucker for John Cameron Mitchell, or if you've ever made out with a stranger because his hair fell into his eyes just so, THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU. Here's to believe.(less)
This is a well-done compilation of the perspectives of mixed-race young people. In a way, this was better than "Half + Half" because the p.o.v. isn't...moreThis is a well-done compilation of the perspectives of mixed-race young people. In a way, this was better than "Half + Half" because the p.o.v. isn't being filtered through memory and writer's craft. Don't get me wrong, the writing is thoughtful and tight. [It's not like grading a bunch of high school essays.] But, it's rare for an adult to present something without layers of information and bright, sparkly persuasiveness. What these young writers reveal is closer to the experience, so it's a bit more nekked.
This is a great read, and I absolutely recommend it for anyone who is mixed-race or raising someone mixed-race. In addition to the stories, the book has resources listed in the back for such families. (less)
Not only is this a solid story and the illustrations pack the pages with a joyful style, but the book's thoughtful design is wall-to-wall. Instead of...moreNot only is this a solid story and the illustrations pack the pages with a joyful style, but the book's thoughtful design is wall-to-wall. Instead of limiting their cheekiness to in between the title page and "The End," Vivian Walsh's and J.otto Seibold's combined charm pops up on the slip cover (check out the bios), the end papers, and even the bar code comes with a saucy message.
The story is another version of how an individual's differences can be valuable to the group even though their outer appearance doesn't indicate it. Seibold's irrepressible and funky pictures present a different Christmas celebration, a welcome respite from rosy-cheeked Norwegian doll girls picking up pine cones with raccoons on a starry night or more traditional Christian symbolism. Anyone who owns a small dog will pick up on Olive's "little doggy" sensibility. The tiny ones tend to have the Superman complex of thinking they can do anything and they refuse to recognize their size as a drawback. As a reveler of secular Christmas (ain't no party like a birthday party), a slave to a fluffy miniature tigress, and a book collector, I enjoyed it very much.(less)
This is the book of Mother Goose rhymes I use to read with kids and to my dog. Rosemary Wells illustrations are delicious as usual--simultaneously inn...moreThis is the book of Mother Goose rhymes I use to read with kids and to my dog. Rosemary Wells illustrations are delicious as usual--simultaneously innocent wicked. Kids like the funny pictures, which use the rhymes as a starting point and then vroom off in new directions. Wells includes illustrations of four constellations as well as bathing rabbits to illustrate, "Star light, star bright." Or, Wells breaks down mail delivery service for the "Half a tuppenny rice" rhyme. Have fun explaining what exactly is "tuppenny rice."(less)
Ooooh, this is such a great picture book. The illustrations and text are a perfect marriage. Shaun Tan composes complex, layered images. John Marsden'...moreOoooh, this is such a great picture book. The illustrations and text are a perfect marriage. Shaun Tan composes complex, layered images. John Marsden's text is spare and controlled. Pairing the simplicity of text with the rich illustrations makes the ideas raised in the book more resonant.
"The Rabbits" could be interpreted as just a cautionary allegory about man's effect on the natural world. However, the references to Australia's history are hardly subtle (the Union Jack in stylized form appears on nearly every page). Marsden and Tan both reside in Australia. Australian history aside, the story ends with a predictable question. But, it's paired with an ambiguous image that reveals that everyone (even the rabbits) is being victimized by imperialistic action.
This is a great book to share with young readers. The text is very lean, but there's a lot of visual information to pore over in the pictures. I recommend it for adults, too. There are so many ways to interpret the message, only great conversations can come out of it.
[Tan's images remind me of another illustrator, Colin Thompson. Thompson's pictures are jammed with information, but Thompson's lines are very clean, in focus, and exact. Tan's effect is more 'fuzzy.' You'll find yourself squinting trying to find an exquisite detail.] (less)
Written by Walter Dean Myers, and illustrated by Jacob Lawrence, y’all! ‘Nuf said. It’s a beautiful book with a great story. There are depictions of c...moreWritten by Walter Dean Myers, and illustrated by Jacob Lawrence, y’all! ‘Nuf said. It’s a beautiful book with a great story. There are depictions of cruelty, so I wouldn’t share this book with very young readers. There are two juicy elements to be found within its pages: Lawrence describes how street orators would relate historical stories on the street corners of Harlem in the book’s introductions; and I was struck how becoming literate in French (as opposed to English) probably influenced the different approach to freedom for the slaves of Haiti.
Sometimes when a person signs up for singing lessons, the coach asks what vocalist has the style you want to emulate. If I could become a big hitter vocally, I’d be torn between the angelic (Battle, Te Kanawa) and the profane (Dinah, Koko). However, if I could paint, I’d want to paint like Lawrence. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, get thee to Harlem or New Orleans stat to view it in person. Or, read this book. (less)
This is an awesome sickbed diversion because most of the text (not too much longer than a feature article) is an introduction by his mother describing...moreThis is an awesome sickbed diversion because most of the text (not too much longer than a feature article) is an introduction by his mother describing the author's brief life and what he attempted and accomplished by its end. The rest of the words are the haphazard notations, fairy tales and private thoughts of Dan Eldon. The book's majority is made up of compelling images spilling off its broad pages. Eldon communicates jokes, adventures, love stories and horror using a mash-up of matchbooks, menus, paint, photos, pen and scads more. A great dance for the eyes when visual upload, not literate, is all you want or can handle.