Quote of the Month

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Look Once And Look Again

If you've ever been a student or an observer in an art class, you know every single participant, when asked, will recreate the same setting differently.  We all see identical elements with new eyes.  We all have our own specific style.

You would think we might be able to come to an agreement on opposites.  It seems pretty cut and dried but when you add perspective to the conversation clarity shifts.  Double Take!: A New Look at Opposites (Candlewick Press, June 13, 2017) written by Susan Hood with illustrations by Jay Fleck encourages readers to broaden their thinking.

Do you know opposites?
YES or NO?

If I say STOP,
you say GO.

For the following five pairs, it seems simple.  The opposite of sleep is awake.  Day and night are at the beginning and end of a day.  There is no debate on these concepts.

As the narrative continues we are presented with a puzzle. How does the label small apply unless there is something bigger?  The same idea can be applied to height and speed.  It's all about comparisons.  A human is slow to a cheetah but a human is speedy to a turtle.

If you have several points on a line, how can one change from being far to near?  Sometimes a common object can look rather abstract when you are as close to it as possible.  If you move away, it looks more natural. Each time you take a picture you can experiment with this altered outlook.

What you need to do is put yourself in someone else's shoes, looking at the world with a new view.  Someone's up might be another one's down.  How many examples can you identify with opposites adjusted?

Concept books are an important form of children's literature but rarely do they challenge readers by inviting them to think outside what is ordinary (or inside the extraordinary).  This is masterfully done by Susan Hood through easing from the obvious to the more complex. The cadence created by her rhyming word choices create a path readers are willing to follow. Here are two more passages.

HIGH might look hazy
until we see LOW.

A racer's called FAST
when rivals are SLOW.

Now just when you think you've mastered that notion,
watch relative words set matters in motion.

Rendered digitally the illustrations throughout this title pair wonderfully with the lively inviting text.  On the matching dust jacket and book case debut picture book illustrator Jay Fleck  introduces us to not only to characters seen on every page turn but to the potential of what can appear when we look more than once.  On the front the reflected image is varnished.  To the left, on the back, on a lighter background two flowers in pots ask us to think about big and small, tall and short, and high and low.  Readers will want to keep their eyes open in order to spot the frequent appearance of these two other animal friends, a tiny red bird and pale gray mouse.

The endpapers are covered in a coral (muted red) canvas.  This is one of the limited color palette hues; others are blues, greens, yellow, gray, black and a little bit of pink on a two-page picture.  The title page and closing illustration feature a rising (setting) sun on a large body of water; the one with a dock and the other from a boat.  Across the publication and dedication pages is a bird's eye view of a city, an amusement park and the sea.  As the narrative begins we zoom into a portion of the city.

The precise lines, layout and design supply a harmony to the illustrations.  Readers will be unable to resist the boy with his red wagon, the black cat and the blue elephant who accompanies them.  There is a tender quality in these images endearing the characters to readers.  Fleck alternates between single page pictures, two images on a single page and two page visuals.  Readers will be searching for the exquisite details; the open and closed sign on a door, animals in building windows, sweatbands on exercisers, the helmet wearing turtle and animals driving cars in the distance.

One of my many favorite illustrations is when the three companions are seated on a bench in an art museum.  The elephant is between the boy and his cat.  All their heads are tilted to the right studying the picture before them.  It is framed in blue with red, yellow, green and blue looping swirls, dots and dashes.

The narrative and artwork in this title, Double Take!: A New Look at Opposites, written by Susan Hood with illustrations by Jay Fleck is a marvelous blend of simplicity.  Readers will eagerly look for the characters and what they are doing on every page.  It would be fun to think of other opposites and imagine what activity the trio would be enjoying in the images.  You will want to have this book on your professional and personal bookshelves

To discover more about Susan Hood and Jay Fleck and their other work please visit their websites by following the links attached to their names.  You can view interior images on publisher websites here and here.  Susan Hood is a guest writer at Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher's blog, Watch. Connect. Read.   Susan Hood was interviewed at Mile High Reading by Dylan Teut, the director of the Plum Creek Children's Literacy Festival in Seward, Nebraska.    Jay Fleck maintains a blog and has an account on Facebook and Instagram. Jay was highlighted by author, reviewer and blogger Julie Danielson at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Take a few minutes to enjoy the titles this week selected by other bloggers participating in the 2017 Nonfiction Picture Book Challege at Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by Alyson Beecher.

1 comment:

  1. What a clever approach to opposites. It sounds like a book every primary teacher could use for young students.