________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 11 . . . .January 19, 2007


The Boy From the Sun.

Duncan Weller.
Vancouver, BC: Simply Read Books, 2006.
32 pp., cloth, $19.95.
ISBN 1-894965-33-7.

Subject Heading:
Nature-Juvenile fiction.

Kindergarten-grade 4 / Ages 5-9.

Review by Sylvia Pantaleo.

*1/2 /4



On a cold grey nothing sort of day halfway between home and school sat three sad children. They said nothing and could only stare.


Three children, simplistically drawn and outlined in black ink, sit on a sidewalk. In the background, a factory spews black smoke into the sky. Black and white illustrations are used for the first two rectos of the picturebook. On the third opening of the book, a boy from the sun descends from the sky, and, although he is drawn similar to the sad children, his head is coloured yellow and seven rays exude from his head. The boy from the sun reminds the gloomy children to keep their eyes open as he leads them on an excursion through a fantastical forest. As the group journeys along the sidewalk, the illustrations have more colour, and the factory disappears from the background. In the forest, the children see beautiful creatures and people from diverse cultures around the world. The children travel through four wordless colourful double-page spreads of the forest until they reach a spot where the concrete sidewalk breaks and crumbles away. The three children scamper into an open field and explore their surroundings. On the subsequent page, the boy from the sun recites a poem for the three smiling children who are reclining on a green hill. The boy returns to the sun leaving the happy children playing in a forest of autumn leaves with the black factory visible in the background.

internal art     The yellow endpages foreshadow the role of the boy from the sun in the picturebook. Six double-page spreads are wordless with illustrations that are pastiche in nature as Duncan combines styles of childish black and white drawings with an artist's water-coloured paintings. These double-page spreads contain many illustrative details; however, the pastiche illustrative style lacks synergy. The other openings in the book have text on the verso and illustrations on the recto which have a black border that frames the illustration.

      The picturebook contains several allusions to Christianity, including the boy from the sun who seems to be spiritual in significance. On Duncan's website, he writes that "the boy from the sun is primarily a celebration of the divinity in nature." The book communicates the importance of self-reflection and of appreciation nature. Duncan's picturebook critiques aspects of North American lifestyles and values and reminds readers to celebrate the human potential. Overall, the picturebook's messages, communicated through both illustration and text, are very didactic.

Not Recommended.

Sylvia Pantaleo teaches courses in language arts in the Faculty of Education, the University of Victoria, in Victoria, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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