Hook by Ed Youg
How Robin Saved Spring by Debbie Ouellet, illus. by Nicoletta Ceccoli
Here are a couple of visually striking picture books which touched NMD and I differently. I'll start with Ed Young's Hook, which is an Ugly Duckling tale of sorts. It tells the story of an eaglet which is raised by chickens after his abandoned egg is mistakenly given into their care. It becomes clear to the chickens that Hook is not meant for Earth, and they enlist the aid of a Native American boy to help Hook find his wings. The narrative is told in short, economical sentences which say just enough to move the story along. The illustrations have a sketchy, almost hurried look to them, and like the text seem to portray so much with so little detail. It's a completely different style from what Young used in last year's Wabi Sabi, which was a complex story richly illustrated. I loved this one. It reminded me of Molly Bang's Goose.
How Robin Saved Spring is a great example of judging a book by it's cover. It's hard to resist such a beautifuly delicate image. Nicoletta Ceccoli's illustrations have an other-worldly quality about them which support this original fairy tale quite well. The story tells of Lady Winter and Sister Spring who take turns rising and sleeping over the course of a year. One year, Lady Winter decides that she would like the world to be in winter all year. So she makes a magic blanket which keeps Sister Spring asleep past her regular time. If you can get past this slightly evil premise--sleep and death are too closely associated here for my comfort--then you will enjoy the attempts of various animals to wake up Sister Spring and the punishments which Lady Winter bestows upon them. It takes clever little Robin to save the day, as the title implies. In a perfect example that adults are overly squeamish, NMD liked this very much and felt that Lady Winter was simply "mean". No hidden undertones for her!
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