Quote of the Month

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

Friday, July 6, 2018

Up, Up, Up And All Around

Standing at their feet is like being in the presence of divine royalty.  From their summits, regardless of the height, the panoramic view makes you feel as if you're soaring on lofty air currents.  They are home to flora and fauna found no other place on this planet. 

You will never forget pausing in their shadows or hiking up and around their sides. Their silence is powerful. In Mountains Of The World (Flying Eye Books, June 5, 2018) written and illustrated by Dieter Braun we journey to points known and unknown; our understanding of all things mountain, mountain residents, mountain climbing and other mountain activities greatly increasing.

What is a Mountain?
A mountain is a natural formation that is much higher and steeper than a hill. The distinction between a mountain and a hill differs from region to region.

Once an explanation of a mountain is delivered and we comprehend how one is formed, we are whisked away to the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest.  We are then intrigued by how a shift in point of view can alter the determination of the highest mountain with several comparisons being revealed.  It all depends on where we begin.  Before a discussion of mountain ranges and what determines a range, we learn about the Andean condor.  Get out a ruler and mark off ten feet.  That's their wing span.

Notable names of summiteers, then and now, are shared along with their accomplishments.  Types of climbing and equipment are presented. With a page turn we are gazing at Mount Fuji in Japan as well as reading of the Japanese macaque who lives up to 10,430 feet high in the mountains.  Can you guess how they become warm?  And did you know mountain lions are also known as pumas? 

If you were to visit Huang Shan, a mountain range in China, you might realize what it has in common with the movie Avatar.  Seven countries are crossed by the largest mountain range in Europe.  Have you ever considered mountains might be made of something other than rock?  Are there mountains in the Sahara or in Antarctica?

Skiing and equipment along with other sport challenges on and around mountains are discussed before we are presented with the truth of mountain longevity.  Yosemite National Park, man-made creations carved from mountains, animals living at the highest heights, Mount Kilimanjaro, waterfalls, Halong Bay, Iceland, Uluru, Norway and Table Mountain are only some of the specific topics as this title continues.  The plight of wild yaks is shared along with facts about the chamois, rock badgers, snow leopards, Dali sheep and the Alpine chough.  The creation of glaciers, stalactites and stalagmites is covered.  One of the final chapters asks us to care for the mountains by being environmentally aware.

When he begins his narrative with a story about the lack of mountains near him as a child, Dieter Braun strikes a chord in many readers' hearts.  In his introduction he continues with his first visit to mountains.  That's all he needs to fuel his curiosity.  Dieter Braun has a technique of finding those facts most fascinating to his reading audience.  He is careful to include basics about everything having to do with mountains but also gives us memorable tidbits about a range of items.  Every few pages he adds a

Did you know . . . 

paragraph.  Each element in his illustrations is captioned with information.  Here are several passages.

Did you know that a mountain on Earth can't
go much higher than 30,000 feet?  Once it 
reaches this altitude the base of the mountain will
start to liquefy due to the enormous pressure of the 
mountain's weight.

In Southern France there is a small, peaceful place called Roussillon, known for its red soil that contains ochre.  Roussillon is surrounded by curious formations of ochre rocks that look like huge termite mounds.  They have beautiful patches and stripes of brown, ochre, yellow and radiant red.  Not surprisingly, the colorful soil from these cliffs can be used to make paint!

When you open the book case illustrated and designed by Dieter Braun you recognize a few elements from interior images used to fashion entirely different scenes.  Both of the places provide readers with majestic glimpses into the world of mountains in two different locations.  To the left, on the back, climbers are scaling a mountain, mostly in silhouette. 

The opening and closing endpapers are a layered look at the heights of mountain peaks around the world.  They are depicted in varying shades of teal.  Each peak is named with the height in feet in white text.  On the title page a black bear cub scampers beneath the words.

Each chapter (with direct and sometimes clever names) and the accompanying pictures, spanning two pages and portrayed in full color, urge readers to stop.  And we do.  We can't help but notice the care taken in the color selection.  It is realistic but evokes an emotional response too. We don't want to miss all the intricate and stylized details. We also want to stand back and look at the breathtaking representations. 

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is for The Alps chapter.  On the left, framed by other mountainous slopes is the Matterhorn.  Shades of blue, brown and green with black and white supply a stunning vista.  Along the bottom on the left are native flowers.  To the right Alpine ibexes with large curved horns are standing on rocky ledges.  The perspective of this image places the animals closest to us.  It's like we are watching them against the backdrop of the mountains. 

When you read Mountains Of The World written and illustrated by Dieter Braun it is like holding a travelogue in your hands.  Dieter Braun is our guide furnishing us with pertinent knowledge and marvelous pictures.  You will want this title along with his Wild Animals of the North and Wild Animals of the South on both your professional and personal bookshelves.

To learn more about Dieter Braun and his other work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website.  It is brimming with his art.  His work is also found on Facebook and Tumblr.  His multiple boards on Pinterest give you further insights into his interests.  At the publisher's website you can view interior images from this book.

Please take a few minutes to visit Kid Lit Frenzy hosted by educator Alyson Beecher to see what titles other participants in the 2018 Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge have listed for this week.

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