Quote of the Month

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

Friday, December 2, 2011

How I Wonder What You Are

Every time I hold a book written and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney in my hands, it is with joyful anticipation.  Pinkney is the recipient of the Caldecott Honor Award five times; 1988-Mirandy and Brother Wind, 1989-The Talking Eggs, 1995-John Henry, 2000-The Ugly Duckling, and 2003-Noah's Ark.  In 2010 he was awarded the Caldecott Medal for The Lion & The Mouse.  He was inducted into The Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame for Distinguished Achievement in the Art of Illustration by The Society of Illustrators in 2011.

In 1806 English author, Jane Taylor at the age of 23 penned a poem called The Star.  This poem provides the lyrics for the well known nursery rhyme song, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little StarJerry Pinkney's interpretation of those lyrics in his words and illustrations is portrayed in his most recent title, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (Little, Brown and Company).

A visual feast worthy of framing jackets the front and back covers in lush shades of blue as a small vessel  is gently lifted skyward from frothy flowers by the breath of a kind wind.  The front and back covers picture the same vessel smaller now still blown by the wind among the huge starry sky a benevolent moon smiling.  Front endpapers are awash in the changing colors of dusk moon gazing at the first star rising.

A stone wall cloaked in morning glories two robins flying across, threads in beaks, a ladybug, ants, and butterfly create a lively scene as a small chipmunk peers from a hole in the wall across a ground carpeted in dandelions young and old; a vivid landscape for a title page.  It is this chipmunk who will guide readers through the song as his adventures unfold; as his dreams are realized.  Stars are seen in dandelion fluff, centers of flowers, in a cluster of petals, among a spider's web and as fireflies glimmer.

As this furry pipsqueak popping with personality invades the robin's nest his escape fashioned from those sticks transforms him to sailor extraordinaire skimming through the night breezing past nocturnal friends.  As fate would have it he tumbles from his craft to a water lily overturned by a fish seeking his evening meal.  Surprised water critters ogle our adventurer as a swan's head dips to his rescue. 

Lifting from her nest chipmunk nestled in her feathery fold, flying she is silhouetted against the moon; they are one.  Home again our sailor, still in his coat small boat next to his side, sleepily dreams.  The closing endpapers are his darkened home; he snuggled in a nest of leaves as a single bright star looks down upon him through his hole in the wall.

Jerry Pickney's illustrations done in pencil, watercolor, and colored pencils on paper are breathtaking in their attention to detail, color spectrum and artistic technique. Variation in layouts, full page, full framed page bleeding to the previous page, small vignettes whose graphics extend beyond the frame two or four to a page, a blue circle and several insets are delicacies for a pictorial gourmet.  At times several wordless pages connect the chipmunk's journey to the next lyrical lines.  Where Pickney chose to place the text and type is sheer perfection.

The display type was hand-lettered by Leah Palmer Preiss.  At times this type, either rendered in white or a shade of blue, graces white space with a small bit of complimentary visuals or is spread across sky or water.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jerry Pickney is a stellar contribution to children's literature evoking a sense of wonderment among our natural world by an explorer who dares to dream. I love Mr. Pickney's explanations in the Artist's Note on character selection, his creative process and what he hopes reader's will discover.  At his web site linked above he includes several other illustrations from this title; each one a treasure.  It does not get any better than this.

No comments:

Post a Comment