Erin Reilly-Sanders's Reviews > The Seeing Stick

The Seeing Stick by Jane Yolen
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's review
Aug 24, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: foreign, fiction, fairytale, picturebook
Read in August, 2011

The story is a pretty nice little tale unless you want to take a feminist reading to it and complain about yet another helpless female who requires male assistance for happiness. I sort of really like the art itself but have some problems with the design of the book. The copyright page is the left hand page of the spread containing the first page on the right. I don't think I've been bothered by this before, but it's a rather abrupt and ugly start to a book and goes without a half title page as well. It could be that the smokey quality of the drawings with gentle lines and soft areas of smooth and silky pattered shade, especially when they are almost monotone, representing the lack of site before changing to color with the introduction of the seeing stick, contrasts unpleasantly with the blank white page and blandly informational text. The illustrations themselves use the edges of the pages beautifully to create a variety of interesting perspectives. However, some of the pages get an extra glossy sheen where some embossing has been added which is visually distracting from the style of the images. This technique was used in The Black Book of Colors and, to be honest, I didn't like it there either. I don't think that a very thin embossing can feel like a color or a picture to a blind person, although not being blind I would be happy to be proven wrong. It just seems that someone who could not see would inhabit the world in a sculptural way, the way Chris Van Allsburg's illustration s look and the carved stick in the story feels, not a flat coating. I also wonder about the visual symbols that we learn, such as how a house is represented, and if I blind person would be able to make the double translation from image to symbol to faintly textured representation of a symbol to 3D sculptural object. But enough of a rant about embossing- I should probably hang out with more textural interpreters before having such a strong negative reaction.

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