Quote of the Month

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

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Seeing Double

There will be times when a book is released, and to your surprise it's a companion to a title from the previous year.  At first you can't believe you missed the first book. (Where were you?  Under a rock?)  As quickly as possible you locate a copy through your public library.  Not only do you believe it's excellent, you know the intended audience will enjoy it, too.  You buy a copy for your personal collection.

Look (Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, July 10, 2018) written and illustrated by Fiona Woodcock cleverly tells a story of a sister and brother spending a day at the zoo.  Her narrative includes words with the letter pair oo.  Each pair is incorporated into the accompanying illustration.

Prior to the title page


is being sung by a rooster.  He is perched on his house on the following verso page.  On the title page LOOK is placed on three rolling hills with a rising sun for the second letter "o".  The children, with their backs to us and wearing their pajamas, have raised their arms in a good morning stretch.

For each of the subsequent pages words describe their breakfast, their footwear, and how fast they drive toward their destination.  They exclaim hooray! on their arrival with their faces as the letters "o".  Three animals are seen, and they dance with the third, doing a boogie.  

More animals are present, butterflies swoop and primates present themselves to the children.  As the sister and brother wander, they carry balloons, find flowers which cause sneezing and satisfy a craving for a sweet treat which sadly meets with an unfortunate mishap.  At home they ready themselves for bed, read, and drift off to dreamland. 

Outside a night bird calls as our natural satellite shines.  A shower of falling stars ask us (for those awake) to LOOK.  We've come full circle. 

There are more than thirty words selected by Fiona Woodcock to tell this tale. There is usually one word per page (illustration), but that pattern is not strictly followed to create a pleasant pacing. Each word used is carefully chosen to provide readers with an interesting narrative with plenty of action.

The front of the dust jacket is a hint of events to come, asking readers to seek words with the double "o".  The array of colors in the balloons is used throughout the book.  To the left, on the back, a large faintly colored red circle on a white canvas frames the sister and brother.  She is behind him saying LOOK!  Her glasses are the double oo.  On his hat it says IT'S A and then BOOK! is across his face.  He is looking through binoculars which form the double "o".  Two beautiful large butterflies are placed on each side of the book case on a background of white.

To coincide with dawn and night the letters "o", spread across the opening and closing endpapers, change color.  On the first the shades are red, yellow and orange.  On the second they are red, blue and purple.

The artwork and hand-lettered text was created by hand-cut rubber stamps, stencils, BLO pens, and additional pencil line work, all composited digitally.

Fiona Woodcock alters her point of view to emphasize the narrative.  She begins by bringing us close to two single-page pictures and then gives us a wider view for a double-page image.  Her placement of the elements and the words changes to create an inviting rhythm.  Readers will be eagerly Looking for the double "o" words.  The heavier matte-finished paper is an ideal texture for her artwork.

One of my many favorite illustrations spans two pages and includes two words.  On a light background colors like tiny confetti (or sprinkles) are patterned as a canvas.  Three flowers from the previous page are in the lower, left-hand corner.  Next to them are the brother and his sister.  Above them in cursive the large word drool stretches over the gutter.  On the right a hand is reaching up from the bottom of the page to grab an ice cream cone.  The top of the ice cream is the letter "o" for the word scoop.  An ice cream scoop utensil held by the vendor is placing that scoop on the cone.

This spring the second book, which lead me to Look, was released.  Hello (Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, May 14, 2019) written and illustrated by Fiona Woodcock follows the siblings on another adventure. The letter pair ll and the formed words take us from the family campsite to an amusement park for the day and safely back to the tents.

Prior to the title page a bird's eye view shifts to a close-up perspective as our eyes move from left to right.  On the left side the sun rises with hello inside it.  Three tents are next to the mother's red car.  On the hill on the right a rabbit watches the scene below it.  The rabbit's ears supply the ll in the word yellow.

On the verso page the brother leans out from his tent with two little bunnies next to him.  His sister stands in front of the rising sun with HELLO beneath her.  The shadows of her two legs become the ll pair.

As the trio travel to the park the geography changes through using pairs of ll words.  A fabulous adjective depicts how excited they are to enter the park.  Words describe five different rides and exhibits and their reactions.

A mischievous brother causes an accident, but they still manage to have fun along the seashore later.  They peer at sea creatures and collect shells until their mother returns.  As night falls, they enjoy a snack courtesy of the crackling fire.

A soothing melody lulls the twosome to sleep. Well, almost both of them.  The younger brother has one more thing he wants to try.  He remembers how the day began with a greeting and a hippity-hoppity companion.

With every page turn readers will be fascinated by how Fiona Woodcock takes nearly forty words to fashion a fun-filled day.  It's exciting to see how their vacation is enhanced by the outing to the amusement park by the seashore.  The decision for determining each word creates a cadence of rising and falling action connecting readers to each event in the story.

On the front of the dust jacket the brother and sister with their hands raised as they float on the water informs readers of the happiness they hold in their hands.  These two are going entertain us from beginning to end.  To the left, on the back, a large yellow inner tube supplies a place for the siblings.  The brother with his hands raised is the double "l" for hello and the legs of his sister help to spell
all.  This is on a white canvas.  On the light background of the book case are two llamas; one is blue on the front and the other is a darker blue with purple on the back.  (You'll need to read this book to discover why they are there.)

On the opening and closing endpapers a series of the letter l are placed almost like zigzags.  On the first set the colors are blue, yellow and green.  Blue, red and purple hues are used on the second set of endpapers.

Readers will see with each page turn some of the images are connected to previous illustrations and following pictures, flowing flawlessly.  As the family leaves the tents behind on the left and travel toward the park, we see it in the distance on the right.  On the next page it is magnified like a bold statement across two pages.  Several of the rides seen in this expansive view appear later and much closer to readers.  (It will be interesting to see if readers can see some elements from the first book in this second title.)

One of my many favorite illustrations spans two pages.  It is for the word gallop.  Six merry-go-round horses ride from left to right, some more prevalent than others to give the impression of motion.  The letter g is to the left of the gutter.  The poles from the sister's and brother's horses provide the ll pair.  The duo is looking directly at the reader.

Both Look and Hello written and illustrated by Fiona Woodcock are imaginative and ingenious stories certain to actively engage readers.  Without a doubt readers and listeners will be eager to alter or expand these stories or write their own using words with pairs of letters.  I highly recommend both titles for your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Fiona Woodcock and her other work, please follow the links attached to her name to access her website.  The second link takes you to a page for Hello.  You can view additional images there.  Some of them are different from those found at the publisher's website.  Fiona Woodcock has accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Fiona Woodcock and these two books are showcased at author, reviewer, and blogger Julie Danielson's Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast here and here.

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