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Friday, April 24, 2015

Three Wordless Picture Books

Fox's Garden
by Princesse Camcam
published by Enchanted Lion Books (2014)

A (soon-to-be?) mommy fox wanders to the edge of the snowy forest hoping to find shelter in one of the homes bordering that area. She is chased away repeatedly by grown-ups.

A kid watches all this and notices the fox entering their greenhouse. He takes a basket of food and offers it to the fox, who is now nursing her four pups.

He goes back to his room. A nice touch here is a picture showing the drawing of a fox on the kid's wall by the bed, not to mention the vintage decor.

The fox is finally ready to move on, followed by her four pups. She leaps into the kid's room (when he is not there) and leaves a surprise garden for him right on his little rug.

When I read that Princesse Camcam (aka Camille Garoche) assembled cut-paper dioramas and lit it strategically and photographed it to make the pictures in this book, I was blown away. It looks hauntingly magical, yet softly transcendental, as the power of a simple act of kindness dawns on us.



Cvr9781442494923_9781442494923_hrDraw!
by  Raúl Colón
published by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books (2014)

A boy sits on his bed in his room, a book in hand which simply says 'Africa' with an African Elephant on the cover. A large sketchbook is by his bed. We gather he might be home sick seeing the medicine-like bottle on his night stand.

Next we see him, still on his bed, sketchbook on his lap, intently drawing. Five identical pictures of varying sizes zooming towards us alerts us to the possibility that something magical might be happening in the next pages.

Sure enough, with his easel and sketchbook and art paraphernalia, plus a canteen of water and some sandwiches, his signature safari hat on his head, the kid is in the African savanna waving to a friendly elephant.

Over the next pages, the story unfolds as the kid draws the animals he encounters, with the elephant being his friendly transport. The apes posing for him brings a smile, especially when the one sitting for the picture has the safari hat and sandwich that the kid had on the previous scene.

The exciting part is when he tries to draw the charging rhino. Then, things go a bit haywire. But all's well that ends well and we see when the kid ends up posing for the baboons with his trademark hat and a sandwich in hand.

The power of imagination is beautifully explored and presented in this wordless picture book wherein every spread is a work of art.



The Farmer and the Clown
by Marla Frazee
published by Beach Lane Books (2014)

The Farmer and the Clown CoverA farmer is toiling in a desolate landscape, clearly unhappy. Along the horizon rolls a circus train from which a baby clown is ejected out. The farmer reluctantly goes to investigate. He meets the baby clown wearing a perpetual painted-on smile.

Into the muted tones of the farmer's world enters this one bright spot, all in red, even if the farmer sees it otherwise.

He grudgingly takes the baby clown home. Over the course of a day, we see them shed their outer facade and learn a bit more about each other.

When the farmer sheds his dull black overalls, he reveals a red pair of long-johns. When the baby clown washes up, we see the sadness underneath the contrived smile. This is a priceless scene where things take a turn in the story.

 The farmer does his best to amuse the and entertain the kid who simply remains unmoved but maybe a bit hopeful. The spread where the baby clown helps the farmer with his chores is delightful. They even have a picnic together. That's when they notice the circus train yonder in the horizon coming their way.

They both hurry to the train. The baby is united with his family and the farmer waves goodbye to all of them as they speed away. Just like that.

The brilliant touch is the last page where we see the farmer, feeling lonely again, is walking along and unbeknownst to him, a circus monkey follows him, finger to his lips and a twinkle in his eye, appealing to us to keep his secret.

[image source: enchanted lion booksmarlafrazee.comsimonandschuster]

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