“Inside a tent it’s cozy. But what is going on outside? Is it dark? Is it scary? Not if you have your trusty flashlight! Told solely through images and using a spare yet dramatic palette, artist Lizi Boyd has crafted a masterful exploration of night, nature, and art. Both lyrical and humorous, this visual poem—like the flashlight beam itself—reveals that there is magic in the darkness. We just have to look for it.” Publisher.
You might have to be from my generation or vintage to remember the drawings we did as children, where after painstakingly drawing a rainbow pattern on a piece of cardboard the child artist then coloured over the drawing from edge to edge with the thickest black crayon possible. We then had fun exposing the drawing underneath by scratching away at the black crayon wax. I am pretty sure Crayola came out with a ready produced version – it wasn’t nearly as much fun as making it from scratch! The pages in this book remind me of that technique. The page is dark with black and grey imagery but as the flashlight is turned to an object or area and it’s illuminated, we discover so much more about the creatures of the night and the surrounding environment. We are also teased with glimpses through cut outs to the next pages.
This is just the sort of book to encourage children to get out and explore – especially at night. It would be a great provocation for an activity to do as a family or even on a school camp (if the area had been scoped out first!). It could also be used to talk to a child about fear of the dark, especially if used with Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen’s “The dark”.
This is another book that I read about and was completely in love with before even seeing it in real life – thanks to this ‘illuminating’ article via BrainPickings.org
See this review from Margie Culver at Librarian’s Quest blog. Margie reviews a fabulous variety of picture books, narrative non-fiction and junior/MG fiction and I have grown to trust her opinions implicitly.
Flashlight / Illustrated by Lizi Boyd
Published by Chronicle, 2014.
NZ RRP $30.00. I bought our library copy at TimeOut Book Store in Mt Eden – where they helpfully provided a complimentary dust jacket.
“A little girl sees a shiny new bicycle in the shop window. She hurries home to see if she has enough money in her piggy bank, but when she comes up short, she knocks on the doors of her neighbors, hoping to do their yardwork. They all turn her away except for a kindly old woman.
The woman and the girl work through the seasons, side by side. They form a tender friendship. When the weather warms, the girl finally has enough money for the bicycle. She runs back to the store, but the bicycle is gone! What happens next shows the reward of hard work and the true meaning of generosity.
Wordless, timeless, and classic, The Girl and the Bicycle carries a message of selflessness and sweet surprises and makes an ideal gift for graduations and other special occasions.” Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Like the Farmer and the clown that I wrote about a week ago, this is a wordless picture book that reads very much like an old black and white movie. The drawings in this are really interesting, they are drawn in varying shades of brown and grey – the only colour being the dark green bicycle. The book is overlaid with a real feeling of sadness. It is unusual in that most of the characters are drawn without mouths – so it is impossible to see their facial expressions. The absence of any smiles makes it really sad. The kindly neighbour is the only smiling adult we see and it is lovely to se the bond that develops between the girl and the neighbour as they work together through the seasons. Readers will really feel for the girl when after she has worked so hard, and all the money is saved, she discovers the bike has been sold. The ending is very satisfying and says a lot about giving and gratitude.
Another great book to use as a writing prompt.
The girl and the bicycle / by Mark Pett
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014.
Available to borrow from Auckland Libraries.
“Whimsical and touching images tell the story of an unexpected friendship and the revelations it inspires in this moving, wordless picture book from two-time Caldecott Honor medalist Marla Frazee.
A baby clown is separated from his family when he accidentally bounces off their circus train and lands in a lonely farmer’s vast, empty field. The farmer reluctantly rescues the little clown, and over the course of one day together, the two of them make some surprising discoveries about themselves and about life!
Sweet, funny, and moving, this wordless picture book from a master of the form and the creator of The Boss Baby speaks volumes and will delight story lovers of all ages.” Publisher: Simon & Schuster
This book unfolds like a very carefully crafted silent movie in the black and white era. The illustrations are rather dark and from a very limited palette of shades of grey and mustard. The only pops of colour are the carriages of the circus train travelling across the landscape and the jolly red of the little clown’s suit and hat.
The two characters are seemingly opposite in temperament. The farmer is pictured looking dour and grim and the little clown, always happy. It is only when they wash and the clown’s makeup and painted on smile is washed off that we see how sad the clown is. There is almost a complete reversal of roles as the farmer tries to cheer the clown up and entertains him in a most clown like manner.
This is really lovely and I can see it being used in the classroom as a writing prompt for students. This is firmly on my ‘to buy’ list for 2015!
Brilliant reviews of this book:
Seven impossible things before breakfast
The farmer and the clown / Illustrated by Marla Frazee
Published by Beach Lane Books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster), 2014
NZ RRP $21.99
Available for purchase at good independent booksellers or to borrow from Auckland Libraries