CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 4. . . .September 30, 2016
When I first picked up this book, I thought it was one of an increasing number of picture book biographies and that it would tell me something about composer and pianist Franz Liszt. Instead, it is a wonderful literary joke of a story written by Canadian Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Spanish artist Júlia Sardà.
And on it goes until the stranger encounters Edward, the middle child and the quietest of the family. He doesn’t have a list because he has too many questions. The two take a bit of time to warm up to each other. But then they start to challenge each other to delve into what they feel are some of the most vital issues in the world. The stranger inquires:
Now Edward feels free to ask questions of his own:
Questions lead to exploration which leads to a marvelous trip in a fantastically-realized hot-air balloon, followed by a return to the chaos of the family home. The stranger stays, and the Liszts’ lists keep coming, but now, having realized that any list is always less than definitive:
Sardà is clearly inspired by the styles of many modern artists – Picasso, Miro, Cezanne – and borrows from them to good effect. She changes perspective from page to page, and shows astonishing and often amusing detail. Maclear (Julia, Child; Spork) enjoys wordplay, and delineates each quirky character in just a few lines. Of course, the author and illustrator blurbs are in form of lists, as is a piece of publisher’s promotion headed ‘To Do Liszts’ which tells us why we should read the book.
Ellen Heaney is a retired children’s librarian living in Coquitlam, BC.
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