Quote of the Month

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

Costumed Curiosity

There is so much evidence of the upcoming holiday, Halloween, in every store now, you feel as though we might have skipped a month.  It might actually be October.  Truthfully, the child in you can literally start to feel the excitement building.

All the remembrances of past Halloween adventures, trick-or-treating up and down the neighborhood streets and hoping for your favorite candies or homemade sweet treats from trusted homes, come rushing back filling you with anticipation.  There are recollections of parents quietly chatting and waiting on the sidewalks while costumed children knock on doors.  Leaves rustle and laughter fills the air.  Two completely charming characters in children's literature return in their own Halloween happening, Duck & Goose Honk! Quack! BOO! (Schwartz & Wade, an imprint of Random House Children's Books, August 22, 2017) written and illustrated by Tad Hills. 

Duck and Goose sat watching as day slowly became evening.  "So, Goose, what are you going to be tomorrow?" Duck asked.

Not realizing tomorrow is Halloween, Goose puzzled by Duck's question, replies he will be as he always is.  As Duck clarifies his request their friend Thistle arrives.  She is being very secretive about her Halloween costume.  As she leaves she issues a warning.

Thistle's final words have Goose spooked.  While Duck dreams of gathered goodies the next night, Goose hardly sleeps a wink.  The following day Duck is dressed as a ghost and Goose dons super hero attire.  Away from her friends, Thistle gets ready too.

As Duck and Goose enter the woods filled with animals wearing alternate identities, Goose looks around anxiously.  His comfort at not seeing who he dreads is short-lived.  An owlet disguised as a flower says the thing they fear the most is looking for them. And it's coming toward them!

In the next several minutes two terrified feathered friends do a 180.  They are, as you will recall, a ghost and a super hero. As the fun-filled evening continues a trio collects treats and memories.

Within the first two pages Tad Hills presents to readers the precious personalities of these two pals as they chat.  By immediately introducing the problem they have to overcome in the form of Thistle's warning, we become further aware of the more cautious of the two companions.  Most of the story is told through conversation.  Here is a sample passage.

While Goose waited for Duck,
he spotted a scary ghost coming
toward him.

"Hello Goose!" the ghost
called.  "Are you ready to go

"Who are you?!" Goose honked.
"It's me...Duck."
"You look more like a ghost to me,"
Goose honked.  "How do I know you're 
not a ghost?

Upon unfolding the matching dust jacket and book case, readers can see Tad Hills has extended his evening sky over the spine to the left, on the back.  This becomes the background for quotations from professional reviewers about the previous Duck & Goose books.  Postage stamp size depictions of all the title are shown along the bottom.

On the front note the body postures of Duck and Goose.  Goose is tilting to the left wary of events to come.  Duck can hardly wait to start getting treats.  The opening and closing endpapers are brushed in Halloween-full-moon yellow.  Around the verso Tad Hills has placed autumn leaves like a frame.  The title page features the pumpkin from the front jacket and cover.

Rendered in oil paint, acrylic paint, and colored pencil the illustrations span two pages, edge to edge, single pages, edge to edge, and within loose ovals.  The images in those loose ovals ask us to pause and focus on the characters.  The details throughout the entire title endear us to the characters but when you see all the woodland creatures in their costumes and carrying their little bags, you can't help but gasp, sigh and grin.

One of my favorite of many, many pictures is the first one.  It spreads across two pages.  The sky is in various shades after sunset; pale blue, purple and peach blend together.  The sky touches the tops of the forest in front of our friends.  They sit on a grassy hill framed by three nearly leafless trees.  Their backs are to us.  We can see their feet on either side of their bodies.  Just a little bit of Goose's bill is showing.  The light in this image (all of them) is marvelous.

Professional and personal collections will most assuredly want to have a copy or two of Duck & Goose Honk! Quack! BOO! written and illustrated by Tad Hills.  These two children's literature personalities have found a place in all our collective hearts.  This newest story about facing fear and celebrating a holiday is delightful.

To learn more about Tad Hills and his other work please visit his website by following the link attached to his name.  At the publisher's website you can view the beginning of this book.  Random House has a special website dedicated to Tad Hills' books.  At the Schwartz & Wade Flickr page you can view some interior images.  Enjoy the video.

No comments:

Post a Comment