A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
My picture book addiction carries on apace. I have no idea where this is coming from (even my children are FAR too old for picture books) but I’m very much enjoying the outcome. My picture book shelf is looking beautifully healthy these days. I discovered my latest purchase, The Wonder by Faye Hanson via the magic of Twitter. I don’t think there’s not nearly enough picture book chat on Twitter and I’m not sure why. I know plenty of parents who use Twitter and would no doubt be stopped in their tracks by a beautiful image, just as I was.
The Wonder is the story of an unnamed boy in a duffle coat whose head is full of wonder. He makes his journey to school, all the time wondering about the things he sees on the way. And all the time thwarted by grumpy non-wonderers. While he wonders where the birds are flying to, the park keeper tells him to keep off the grass. As he daydreams about who makes the clouds the bus driver grumbles at him to waken up. His life is full of wondering but at school he’s told not to daydream. Until he gets to art class and his imagination is let loose on the page.
This is an utterly stunning book. In all senses of the word. The visuals at the start are in muted tones all except the flashes of colour where the boys daydreams are highlighted. Once he’s in art class and he’s allowed to let his imagination run…wow, just absolute wow. This is really one of the most glorious, striking, beautiful books I’ve ever seen. The superlatives just don’t do it justice. This is the sort of artwork I adore, the soft focus, the intricate details, the life of it just leaps from the page.
The story too is quite subtle in its message, I think. Of course, I may be reading far more into it than is there…but then, as a grown up I’m allowed. The blackboard in the Art class reads, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up – Picasso.” For me this short picture book explains exactly how to do that. The art teacher with her encouragement of daydreaming and imagination, the boys parents with their loving support of his work all lead to the very last page and the boy in a much larger duffle coat who appears to have kept his sense of wonder.
For children this will help encourage their imagination. There is so much to look at, examine and discuss on every page. You could read it hundreds of times and still spot new thing on all the busy, beautiful pages. It’s the sort of book to pour over for hours and hours. This really is a book of wonder.
This is a book for both grown up and children wonderers that will definitely remind you to celebrate your imagination.
Thank you to whoever Tweeted the link to The Illustrated Forest