We dream. We dream during sleep. We dream when we're awake. Our dreams allow us to explore possibilities. We humans are not alone in the act of dreaming.
Scientific evidence through testing confirms dogs dream in a similar fashion to us. They happen to dream of their dog days and activities. Author illustrator Kim Krans wonders artistically, without words, in her newest title, ABC Dream (Random House, January 19, 2016) on what images might be found in our twenty-six letters' thoughts as they drift into deep sleep.
Some of the elements finding their way into the minds of the letters are recognized as having been represented in other alphabet volumes but their presentation here is highly original and exceptionally imaginative. An apple is poised on the top of an A patterned in argyle. It has been pierced by two arrows. An apple core is at its base being eaten by ants. These insects are crawling along the single letter and the arrows.
There is movement in many of the letters' dreams. A braid swings. A chicken pecks at cupcake crumbs. Dandelion seeds drift.
As in our own restful inspirations we readers look and suspend belief as flights of fancy form. An egg balances in the starry universe. Fish float by fireflies. A happy hedgehog is wearing a party hat patterned in hearts.
Jellyfish journey. Lambs lay on lace. A nest is nestled in a nook. A panda ponders amid puzzle pieces. A queen's crown adorns a bird's crest. A rope curtains off a change in the weather. We are challenged by the ideas the letters give, asking us to think beyond the concrete.
The letter U takes the front image twisting it in speculation. Zinnias scatter across the plain occupied by the African horse with the distinctive stripes and upright mane. Though the last letter has revealed its musings we begin again wanting to join in the ABC Dreams once more.
Other than the twenty-six individual letters featured in each single or double-page illustrations, there is no text. With that being said, these pictures speak volumes. They are alive with questions and answers. How did those two arrows get so close to one another in the apple? Who ate the apple? Did they leave it knowing it would be a feast for the local ant community? Kim Krans is asking us in silence to participate.
When you open the matching dust jacket and book case the resplendent unicorn's neck and upper portion of its body continues across the spine to the ISBN framed by leaves. Leaves are placed in the upper left hand corner, over the spine, and off the front lower-right edge. Elements from the interior pages are placed throughout this illustration; fireflies, a fish, a dragonfly, a celebratory hedgehog and the dandelion seeds. There is spot burnished gold along the unicorn's horn on the jacket.
The endpapers are filled with rows of repeating alphabet letters in outline. Spots of color outline some of them. Kim Krans continues to place small items from other images on the verso and title pages. The heavier, matte-finished paper is an excellent choice for her pictures rendered in pen and ink and watercolor washes.
With the exception of letters E, N, O, and W the canvas for the illustrations is white. Most of the visuals extend over two pages. Any highlighted animals are participating in the dreams; the dog looks upward at the dragonfly, a fox watches the fish and fireflies, a kitten plays with the tendrils of the jellyfish and wasps feast on forgotten fruit.
Thicker lines border the letters but the intricate details in other elements welcome readers to stop and look at each image trying to guess what each dream discloses. Krans uses color sparingly for emphasis. Design items will have readers gasping in delight as in the manner in which the H and I pages are joined.
One of my favorite letter dreams is for the T. At first glance you see tigers next to a tree trunk taking up a large portion of the left side of a single page. Not only does this represent tiger, tree, and trunk but two and tired.
Not only is ABC Dream conceived and illustrated by Kim Krans an object of beauty but it will promote endless conversations about design, layout, the use of color and the elements in each image. Each letter's dream has a story to tell. This is a must have for collectors of alphabet books. It is a wonderful addition to personal and professional bookshelves.
To learn more about Kim Krans and her other work visit her personal website and The Wild Unknown by following the links attached to her name. For a few interior illustrations please visit the publisher's website. Kim Krans is interviewed about this title at The Children's Book Review. Enjoy the video peek at the book below. Stand-on-a-desk-shouting-I-love-reading educator Colby Sharp interviews Kim Krans at sharpread. You will love these questions and Krans' answers.
ABC Dream from the wild unknown on Vimeo.