Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, October 21, 2011

Still Smiling and Lovin' That Lucy!

The cover of Peter Brown's second book centering on character, Lucille Beatrice Bear, says it all; Lucy shouting out loud in her bold, boisterous, conspicuous demeanor, You Will Be My Friend!, animals within range startled and heading for the hills as fast as their legs or wings can carry them.  With Lucy there is never a doubt as to her  intent.  Everything Lucy does,  she does with deliberate purpose. (My review of the first "Lucy" book, Children Make Terrible Pets, is linked here.)

Brown begins this new episode in the life of Lucy on the title pages as the excited bear bursts from her bedroom exclaiming, MOM! MOM!  A brainstorm popped into Lucy's mind when she awoke; today is the day when she is going to find a new friend.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, will deter her in this effort.

When her Mom inquires as to how this will be accomplished, her positive personality oozes with optimism.  The woods are bursting with possibilities of friends to be made.  Lucy is brimming with ideas of what they can do together. 

Her frolic in the frog pond does not end well nor does her tree climbing to question the giraffe.  Scrubbing the skunk to rid him of his odor and asking the ostrich about her flying skills is a total bust.  No matter what Lucy does with any of the critters, including the squeakers (humans), nothing seems to work. Even an egg resting in a nest, she'll wait, is not the answer.

On the next double page illustration, bigger than life, Lucy, taking deep calming breaths, talks to herself:

You can do this.
You can make a new friend.

Just be yourself.

Over the course of three sets of double page reveals, Lucy is herself; loudly frustrated, desperate and pensive.  But readers will see what Lucy can not.  Something special is happening.  Something that will brighten her mood and change her life.  Friends can do that.

Peter Brown's handlettered word balloons done in shades of Lucy's tutu pink, are loaded with her mind's inner workings lending emotional depth and insightful humor to the already hilarious illustrations and narration.  His graphics done with pencil on paper with cut construction paper and wood, presented on heavy cream colored paper coupled with his palette of colors makes the reader feel like they can just jump in and join the rest of the critters in the forest.

 And speaking of critters, I really like that Brown does not limit his choice of woodland inhabitants. In Lucy's world bears can live with giraffes, frogs, ostriches, skunks, monkeys, rabbits, kangaroos, beavers, pond fish and turtles, bees and flamingos.  Bears can live in houses like humans and ride bikes.

Brown has rounded all the corners on his visuals placing them in narrow frames of various textured wood conveying warmth and welcome.  His choice of graphic size per page adds interest to the overall storyline and pep to each part of that story.

Through his words and pictures Peter Brown spins an enchanting tale of friendship found.

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