Friday, November 17, 2006

Hot city

by Barbara Joosse, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Mimi and her little brother Joe are hanging out on the front steps on one of those steamy sizzling hot city summer days. “Watcha wanna do?” says Joe. “Nothin” she says. Of course Joe can’t do nothin’; he’s got “jumps in his skin”. They try spying on the blah blah ladies but that is boring. They buy snow cones but can’t eat them fast enough before they drip all over. Down the street, they finally hit upon the public library.

YAY library as the hero of the book!

It’s cool in the library. The coolest place in the city. They have big old chairs. You can be a princess or ride a dinosaur. Out the window the people on the street are sizzlin’ hot. But in the library? It’s all good in here.

I love this book because it shows kids figuring out that the library is the best place to be to find their sweet spot for adventure. I love the colors of the illustrations and the “smooth urban voice”, as it is described on the flyleaf. It is a great story. There are several wordless pages in the middle of the book showing Mimi’s fantasy as she becomes a princess and rides a unicorn through the forest. The story shows her as creative, resourceful, kind and thoughtful.

One thing I am not crazy about is the artistic style of the illustrations, particularly the way the people are drawn. Their heads are too big and their hands are tiny. Their eyes and mouths are huge. Their necks are skinny and they stand disjointed and awkward. The facial expressions are realistic and evocative, but they don’t look healthy and whole. Looking at them is disconcerting and uncomfortable for me, even when they are smiling and happy. On his web page Christie says: "The disproportional figures bathed in planes of color are meant to be a directional device and to serve as visual rhythm contained within the restrictions of a book's pages." We have several other books illustrated by Christie in our library (see his webpage in the link on his name to view covers) but I don't like his figures. To me they are ugly. I want the children to be beautiful, not jarring. What do you think about this style of illustration?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,


MotherReader said...

I am sooo with you about the illustrations. I didn't like them either. I think they are distracting in their, well, ugliness.

Susan said...

Yep, I agree. I liked this book too but not the pictures. I found them sort of creepy.