Quote of the Month

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

Friday, November 22, 2019

In Search Of The Ideal

Completion of a mental check list is essential.  The contentment found in a long walk by a canine companion is met.  A favorite beverage is close at hand.  Received as a gift, a cozy blanket is ready to offer comfort.  Now the last but the most important item must be found.

It's the foundation upon which joy is discovered; a joy enveloping readers and listeners alike.  The Perfect Seat (Disney Hyperion, November 12, 2019) written by Minh Le with illustrations by Gus Gordon seeks to ensure the final objective is achieved.  It's no easy task for this parent and child but together they find the absolute best place.

Can you read to me?

Those five words in that order, no matter the age of the person requesting or the person hearing the request, are five of the most cherished words in any language.  They are asking for an affectionate connection through story.  This child and father are leaving a book shop with a new book.  They are looking for the perfect seat.

Inside a nearby coffee shop the sofa is entirely too large and a fire hydrant outside is much too little.  A space between two buildings has seen better days and a chair in a store window looks ill-designed for its purpose.  As they travel around the neighborhood opposite extremes seem more prevalent than the excellence they desire.

The seated duo is either too close or too far apart as they journey to the park.  There possibilities, natural and fashioned by human hands, present no welcome outcome.  When it looks as if the father and child have found an agreeable space, a tumble suggests otherwise.

The dejected and water-soaked dad plops down against a tree trunk certain they can't find the perfect seat.  With the infinite wisdom children spring on adults when we need it the most, a leap supplies a solution.  Sometimes with the right perspective, the answer has been there from the beginning.

As a story time aficionado, Minh Le writes with a beautiful blend of short two word statements and a little bit of dialogue.  The comparisons are a welcome invitation into the father and child's dilemma.  These gently lead us to the conclusion we are all hoping they recognize.  What do you think this comparison refers to?  Where do you think they are?

Too Funky.
Too Fancy.

It's only when the dust jacket is open you can determine what the generous sweep of white represents.  (Although it may vary with each viewer.)  The scene continues to the left (back) flap but stops on the right (front) flap to allow space for the introduction.  Careful readers will get their first hint on the jacket of the mediums employed by Gus Gordon for this book.  Can you see the print in the father's antlers and in the clouds?  The title text, father, his child and two insects flying on the back are varnished.

On the book case the sky blue presents the largest area of color.  Along the bottom are white puffy clouds and other thinner clouds above them.  A dotted line begins near the upper left-hand corner of the back and waves over the spine to the center of the front.  The line is made by the red-covered book, case and spine on top, with the pages open and flying like a bird.

On the opening and closing endpapers in a limited color palette, shades of gray with a hint of blue, greens, black and yellow is a map of places the father and child visit looking for the perfect seat.  It's here we get to see some indication of the humor Gus Gordon uses in his images in this book.  The streets are named

street to nowhere interesting and
over here street.

Prior to the title page the pictorial interpretation and narrative begins as the twosome stands in front of


With a page turn the conversation continues and becomes the title as they walk down the street.  The illustrations throughout are rendered

using watercolors, pencils, crayon, and collage.

For each picture, portions are chosen to be bolder and brighter in color with other elements done as drawings with collaged items completing the scene.  Most of the illustrations are on single pages employing large areas of white space for splendid effect.  For emphasis and pacing three visuals are shown on two pages.  The details in the lines and facial expressions are fascinating and at times hilarious.

One of my many, many favorite illustrations is a full-page picture.  It is for the words

Too short.

All we can see of the father is from his chest down on the left standing with his hands (hooves) by his side.  His child, holding the red book in both hands (hooves) is smiling.  He is looking at a tablecloth covered table on the grass.  On top of the table is a teapot and two cups and saucers.  One mouse is seated at the table.  The other mouse is standing up and offering its chair to the moose parent and child.

You can't help smiling when you read The Perfect Seat written by Minh Le with illustrations by Gus Gordon.  Everything about it, the words and artwork, is charming and brimming with truth.  It's ideal like the seat finally found.  It's a story time, bedtime and any time treasure.  I can already imagine the conversations about readers' and listeners' favorite places to read aloud.  I highly recommend this title for your professional and personal collections.

To learn more about Minh Le and Gus Gordon and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their respective websites.  Minh Le has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.  Gus Gordon has accounts on Instagram and Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, this was a delicious review. Margie, are you an artist or did you study Art? I have a sleepy, confused eye for Art, and I appreciate you pointing things out that I might have missed. I hope they realize that wherever they are, being together and reading is what makes it the best place? My favorite place is reading in my kidlit tent in my Hundred Acre Woods (really 8��) with a guitar, a cookie and a picture book. It sounds like a lot of thought and love went into this. I like the way the love an author and illustrator have for their story and characters, spills into the book, the way a good cook’s love of cooking seeps into the food. Me? I make Resentment Chicken. My son Alex says it has a zest!��Looking forward to finding this book. Will go to Library to make sure they order! They listen to us! Congrats to all involved in this lovely sounding/looking book.✌������������