Quote of the Month

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

Thursday, May 14, 2015

By The Sea, By The Sea, By The Beautiful Sea

In exactly eleven days an official holiday will signal the unofficial beginning of summer.  Memorial Day weekend is when many individuals will meet with family and friends to travel to the nearest parks and lakes to enjoy a little rest and relaxation for the first time this year.  It's a time to reap the benefits of unhindered sunrises and sunsets, sand and hopefully some solitude.

For others living along one of the coasts, the days will bring about an entirely different kind of adventure.  Those large bodies of water hold mysteries within their depths.  You never know what might wash up along the shores.  In their newest undertaking Cordelia, her younger brother, his teddy bear companion, and her prehistoric pals, Rex, Alan, Rosemary and Clarence, whose delightful antics we've enjoyed in Tea Rex and Camp Rex, are headed for some seaside merriment.  Sea Rex (Viking, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), May 26, 2015) is sure to send you packing for your next excursion with a smile on your face.

READY for a carefree day of fun in the sun?
Gather your friends...

Upon arriving at the beach one must take precautions to fully appreciate all this trip has to offer, keeping safety in mind.  This might mean staying within eyesight of the life guard.  If you don't use the proper amount of sunscreen, the sun's rays will keep you uncomfortably warm for days.

Tiptoeing into the water is far too slow.  Go for the cannonball jump!  Watch out for those sudden colossal waves which are a surfer's delight but can create mayhem on the shore.  Everyone knows the sand along the sea reveals endless treasures.  Cordelia and company find seashells to be full of surprises; sharp, loud and gigantic.

When you flip open the lid on your picnic basket new friends will flock to your side.  In fact, they might get carried away (or carry someone away).  If you should race to the rescue, kindly observe the cardinal rules for swimming.  You simply never know what lurks beneath the surface.

This is a day for making memories or sand castles.  It's full of snoozing, floating and snacking.  It's best done with Rex and his roomies.

Charming as ever, like a guide from a bygone era, Molly Idle gives voice to an unseen speaker.  With each statement we are privy to numerous pieces of particular recommendations and several golden nuggets of life advice.  Key words add to the anticipation of searching for the discrepancy between the narrative and the images.  As soon as I read carefree I knew the opposite was going to be true on more than one occasion.  Our fearless formal friend seems to be the recipient of things gone awry which simply creates more fun for the reader.

Beginning with shades of blue on the front and back of the dust jacket (I'm working with an F & G), Molly Idle takes us to the water with its cool colors.  You can't help but rejoice in the playful nod by Idle to another classic cover of a swim at sea.  Readers familiar with the two previous titles will be as happy as Rex and Cordelia to see the two friends reunited.

In this title the crown over Rex is formed from anchors to maintain the theme.  Details like this spell excellence.  The red and white in SEA are those found in a life tube. The opening and closing endpapers contain similar elements but subtle changes point to the storyline; how we begin and finish.  A bug-eyed crab has been busy.

Rendered in Prismacolor pencils on vellum finish Bristol each illustration tells its own story starting with the title page; Cordelia, her brother and teddy bear dressed and ready for a trek to the seashore. With skill Idle supplies pacing in her picture sizes; alternating between small insets, framed single pages, two-page, edge to edge visuals and smaller framed pictures on a single page.  Idle's layout is impeccable.

Mood, motion and lots of humor are generated with facial features, body postures and intricate line work.  You can't help but laugh when you see the tiny sailor hat on the head and the teeny pail and shovel in the hands of Rex. Careful readers will see that even with a pail full of sunscreen one member of the crew seems to have acquired a rather unique sunburn.

One of my many favorite illustrations is a wordless double-page span of Rex, Cordelia, her brother, his teddy bear and a persistent seagull.  Rex is resting on his back, wearing a toothy grin, holding Cornelia's umbrella with the seagull on top over his face and his inner tube's face.  Cordelia's brother is sleeping on Rex's stomach.  The teddy bear is perched on Rex's curled tail peering over the side.  Cordelia is stretched on her beach towel, her hand holding a spot in her book, as she looks up at Rex.  She is definitely wondering why her umbrella has been moved.

Whether you have read the companion titles or not, you are going to thoroughly enjoy Sea Rex written and illustrated with mastery by Molly Idle.  Each character will charm you as the contrast between the text and images depicts one moment of comedy after another.  At the conclusion you will want to give each one a hug after you have walked to the beach to sit beside them.  This book is meant to be shared.

For more information about Molly Idle and her other titles please follow the link attached to her name to access her website.  This interview at Andrea Skyberg|Author & Artist gives us a tour of Molly Idle's studio.

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