CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 3 . . . . September 30, 2005
What a lovely picture book!!
An old man living on a hill is an object of mystery and even fear to those in a nearby village. This mistrust and fear keep them emotionally and physically distant. But a young boy from the village watches with interest as this crusty old man displays love for his menagerie of animals. The strong love for all creatures "hurt or abandoned, neglected or forgotten," impresses the boy who finds it sad that the villagers cannot see this unconditional love.
The storm causes the river to swell and rise, and it seems the flood waters might submerge the old man and his animals. From out of nowhere, a boat appears which the boy uses to rescue the animals and ferry them to safety and finally the reluctant old man, himself. Surprisingly, this boy is aided by the villagers who lend a helping hand by offering blankets and providing shelter to the man and his precious animals.
The entire design of this book is unique, intriguing and beautifully done, from the variety in the placement of the illustrations, to the choice of an appealing font, with large capitals used in certain parts of the story. The text is almost lyrical and incredibly descriptive, as seen in the excerpt above, and it appeals to the senses with many alliterative phrases, such as the "bellowing and bleating of beasts."
The illustrations, rendered in pencil, are simply outstanding. The medium chosen is so suitable to the story line and is most effective in conveying rain in an eerie, gloomy storm. Ian Andrew manages the most amazing shades of gray with an occasional smattering of pastel colour tinting depicting light, the colour of the boat, sometimes skin tones, parts of clothing or coloured birds. The detail in this medium is striking, effectively showcasing facial expression, shadows, interesting perspectives and sweeping landscapes inspired by Andrew's hometown of Portland, Dorset.
Reesa Cohen is an Instructor of Children's Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.