CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 24. . . .February 23, 2018
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books, March, 2018.
44 pp., hardcover & PDF, $19.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55498-981-2 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55498-982-9 (PDF).
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.
Review by Christina Quintiliani.
Building on the success of Turn on the Night, author and illustrator Geraldo Valério adds a second wordless tale to his repertoire of children's picture books. Blue Rider is a charming follow up to Turn on the Night which, once again, fully embraces the beauty of imagination and the transformative potential of art.
In the introductory scenes of Blue Rider, a young girl wearing a backpack is observed walking through crowded city streets. The mundaneness of everyday urban life in these opening pages is skillfully represented through duller sepia and earth tones, a direct contrast from the pages which are soon to follow. Serendipitously, the young girl stumbles across a book which appears to have been unintentionally dropped on a crowded sidewalk. Enfolding the newfound treasure in her arms, she returns home where later that evening while lying in bed, she proceeds to open the cover. Immediately upon doing so, the young girl is whisked into a world of imagination where a magical flying horse proceeds to dust the local cityscape in a glorious, rainbow shower of colour. Soaring high above the neighbourhood and surrounding areas, the horse effortlessly erases the mundane earth tones, blanketing them in a vibrant palette of pinks, blues, yellows, oranges and greens. This magical midnight ride carries the young girl into a world of imagination where the ordinary is unexpectedly transformed into the extraordinary.
The exquisite, vivacious display of colour on the dust jacket, frontispiece, and endpages makes Blue Rider instantly recognizable as a Valério creation well before one even begins to explore the book's internal illustrations. His signature Picassoesque style flourishes through the dreamlike sequence of illustrations in which the enchanted horse bathes the scenery in colour.
Valério's artistic approach, which he states on the dust jacket is inspired by German impressionist painters, gives Blue Rider a unique, lively feel that is fused with mysterious undertones due to the abstract nature of the illustrations. Without question, this narrative is a visual experience that invites readers to not only appreciate, but also actively engage with, art. For this very reason, Blue Rider would serve as an effective lead in to classroom lessons and discussions in visual arts and beyond.
The limitless possibilities for interpretation will undoubtedly make Blue Rider a favourite for young and adult readers alike. The quality of presentation will inspire all those who are fortunate enough to interact with its content. A seamless interweaving of reverie and reality, Blue Rider is a must-have wordless addition to any picture book collection.
Christina Quintiliani is an Ontario Certified Teacher and Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Education, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, where she is researching children’s literature.
© CM Association
University of Manitoba
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