All you have to do is work with a group of little guys and gals to have their unbridled enthusiasm for making art spread to an unsuspecting by-stander; like the best kind of virus in the universe. They savor new boxes of crayons, sharpened colored pencils, glue sticks, scissors and do-dads galore. Their concentration is intense and complete. Each finished project is as unique as the individual who makes them.
There are those books which reach out and wrap themselves around you in a bear hug of warmth as soon as you see the cover. Kelly Light's debut picture book, Louise Loves Art (Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, September 9, 2014) is one of those books. Louise, her little brother Art and one clever cat walk right into your heart, staying there even when the story is completed.
I love art!
It's my imagination on the outside.
Papers scattered across her bedroom floor, Louise is busily creating the ultimate picture. It will be the best representation of her drawing skills. It will be her spectacular showpiece.
Like a true artist she pays close attention to every single detail; all the lines and shapes must convey the essence of her subject. The family cat is captured in feline perfection to Louise's delight. When her brother repeatedly tries to get her attention, she is much too busy to waste a single second. She has a gallery to create.
Oh my yes...she is energetically engrossed in the task at hand. It's to the kitchen she goes. There's nothing like the refrigerator for providing space to display one's creative treasure. Her contemplation is finally interrupted by a loud
Oops! What has Art done? I guess Art followed his heart...and his sister.
Kelly Light does not waste a single word; each sentence conveying the precise, precious thoughts and voice of Louise. It's easy to imagine hearing her speak; so lively and full of passion for making art. She gives a dramatic flair to Louise's speech by adding words like piece de resistance and Voila! You might want to practice your French accent before reading this aloud. It adds to the fun factor.
Beginning with the dust jacket these illustrations exude charm and humor. It's obvious Louise and Art are happiest when drawing but the cat will be supplying the comedy. On the back we readers are treated to sister and little brother lying across a pile of pictures, drawing away with the cat sprawled on its back watching. The opening and closing endpapers are entirely in the bright vintage red except for the lower right-hand corner being held back like a curtain by the cat showing Louise and again at the end with Louise holding back the corner revealing Art with the cat stretched next to him. These little touches elevate the excellence of the visuals.
The title page extends across two pages, beginning the story in Louise's bedroom with her drawing, the cat dozing on the bed (one eye open) and Art peeking in through the doorway. The stage is set for a stellar story. All the remaining pictures cover both pages, edge to edge with the exception of two sets of smaller visuals which accentuate defining moments in the narrative. (Light continues the story using the verso at the end.)
Rendered with black Prismacolor pencils and Photoshop, using a limited color palette these illustrations pop off the page with pizzazz telling a tale of their own in addition to the text. We readers are privy to Art's activities as Louise merrily goes about her work. The cat's facial expressions and body movements are hilarious with a capital H.
Attention to details, all the drawings and the decor in the rooms, make readers feel right at home. It's next to impossible for me to pick a favorite illustration. I truly love them all but there are four pages I can't look at without laughing. The wordless illustration when Louise is sizing up where to hang her masterpiece with the cat trying to get her attention and pointing at Art and the next picture when Art says
holding something in his hands. The perspective has zoomed in on him. The look on what we can see of the cat's face will have readers giggling like crazy.
I for one am so happy that Kelly Light brought these siblings and their cat into the children's literature world in her first picture book, Louise Loves Art. Make sure you have an abundance of paper, pencils and red crayons handy after reading this aloud. Of course as the artists are working away, they will most certainly request you read this again to them. This is a joyful ode to the love of art and Art.
Please follow the link embedded in Kelly Light's name to access her website. A link there takes you to her blog giving you more information about her process. These are links to interviews at Idle Illustration, Andrea Skyberg|Author & Artist, and Inkygirl.
Here is a recent tweet about her illustrations.
Louise red is very hot, orangey... Wanted it to be a vintage red. The kind you see in Bakelite or on… http://t.co/pbc4SrvKo3
— kellylight (@kellylight) July 16, 2014
UPDATE: Book trailer released on August 7, 2014
UPDATE: Louise Loves Art is highlighted in a trifecta on September 8, 2014. Kelly Light writes about her reading journey at Nerdy Book Club. Educator Colby Sharp highlights a conversation he had with Kelly Light on his blog at sharpread. John Schumacher, teacher librarian, interviews Kelly Light on his blog, Watch. Connect. Read.