• Posted on August 18, 2012
All Green

Have You Seen Green?

Two things come to mind when reading Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger. The first is a song by Edie Brickell, also called Green. Barring a rigourous deconstruction of the lyrics (unlikely), the song appears to be about the pleasures of the colour green, especially grass (of the lawn variety) as viewed from the other side of the proverbial fence. The second is The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. This newly published novel about the slowing down of the earth’s rotation (as told by an 11 year old girl) moved me so deeply I see the world differently, or at least, more attentively. I am filled with appreciation for the way things are now, at this particular angle and spin of the axis. In my part of the world (Alberta), the land is abundant, wondrously varied, and green. Although we may not be facing a sudden catastrophic event as in The Age of Miracles, parts of the US are experiencing a drought on such a massive scale it rivals the 1930′s Depression era, and just a few years ago my province stared down a similar abyss, the evidence of which can still be seen in the canopy. And yet, this summer and the last, we’ve had record rainfall. I never take green for granted. It is the colour of life.

Read More

  • Posted on August 14, 2012

Picks & Tweets from the Illustrated Word

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a bad case of the dog days of summer (and my cat agrees.) Excessive heat, too many fizzy beverages, and the Olympics have dulled my senses. Not sure what the Olympics have to do with it, as I watched very little of the festivities, but even being in the vicinity of sporting events has a somnambulant effect on me. I did watch the opening and closing ceremonies, and as elated as I was to see Mike Oldfield, I was just as disappointed not to see Kate Bush, although they did play a remix of Running Up That Hill while oppressed-looking folks in white leotards stacked boxes. The best part was the stream of live comments on Twitter, which begs the question, what did we do before hashtags? Instant (and international) sarcastic messaging makes me happy to be alive in the 21st century. Thank you Twitter. And now, more from the Tweetosphere…

Although a long-time Trekkie, I am newly addicted to George Takei’s hilarious Facebook site. On August 6th , Mr Sulu linked the first image of Mars transmitted by the Curiosity rover, pictured above. Marvin. I knew it. Follow the adventures of the Curiosity on ‘his’ awesome Twitter feed.

From Gregory Walters, a post about ”required” summer reading for children. I especially like his inclusion of Mad Magazine, which was certainly a staple of my childhood (and occasionally adult) summers.

Julie Danielson from Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast has just posted a great interview with author/illustrator Komako Sakai. For a second serving of Sakai, here’s my review of The Snow Day.

After watching  synchronized swimming on the Olympics (which has scarred me for life), I was reminded of this classic from Saturday Night Live with Harry Shearer and Martin Short. This comedy routine is only marginally weirder. Or maybe not…

Read More

  • Posted on August 01, 2012
od Basni do Basni cover

A Fairy Tale of Poland

The beauty of writing a blog with a focus on illustration is that I can downplay the story if it’s unremarkable, or if, as with the case of Od Baśni do Baśni (From Story to Story), it is so remarkable that it is beyond comprehension. Not that Polish is particularly remarkable, but it is beyond comprehension, especially for those of us who are not familiar with the language, and/or have a fondness for vowels.

The book was unearthed in the basement of the parents of my brother in law. Sadly, they passed away this last year, and now their children are sifting through the remnants of their long lives. No one remembers this book, or how it came to be in their possession. Published in 1965, it’s certainly of the era of my brother in law’s childhood, but the provenance is uncertain. Nevertheless, it is now in my hands, if temporarily, and I couldn’t be more tickled.

Although not familiar with Jan Marcin Szancer, the illustrator of od Baśni do Baśni, his style (at least in this particular outing) is straight out of the sixties. The unusually vibrant colour plates may be a result of the era’s pre-separation printing process, but regardless of how the images made it to the page, Szancer’s illustrations (in colour and black & white) bare a striking similarity to the work of his compatriots outside of Poland. Certainly, Szancer’s humourous and delightfully jaunty approach to illustration is not unlike Ronald Searle or even Paul Galdone, which makes the stories even more tantalizing. Something funny is going on here, but what?

Read More