• Posted on July 09, 2013

Stormy Weather

The province I call home is relatively catastrophe-free. Alberta is a land-locked northern city in Canada, not much is visited upon us by way of weather events, other than extreme, nostril-slamming cold and the occasional drought. However, when it hits, it hits big, like ‘Black Friday’ in 1987 when a tornado killed 27 people, or, two weeks ago, a devastating flood, which shut down a major city and most of southern Alberta for days, resulting in loss of life and several billion dollars worth of damage. Weather is unpredictable, and often deadly, but a good thunderstorm is a thing to behold. A thing many people, including myself, enjoy. A thing that would inspire any artist. Well, not just any artist.

Thunderstorm by the great Arthur Geisert is exactly the kind of book I would have loved as a kid, with imagery that would’ve stayed with me into adulthood. It’s in the details; the stuff going on in the corners, the fragments of story waiting for a turn at centre stage. A mid-west farming community in the midst of a stormy afternoon, full of scattering animals, busy humans shuttering down their belongings, and a panoramic landscape wide open to whatever is thrown at it. And pigs. There are always pigs in Geisert’s picture books.

Tornado Touchdown-Thunderstorm

Read More

  • Posted on April 14, 2013

Pig in a Pond

Slowly I am making my way through Poly Bernatene’s picture books. The Argentinian illustrator is astoundingly good, and very prolific. His latest book, Ribbit! is, like the others, a feat of illustration. Unlike the others, there is no blue, as in the colour blue. There are wonderful greens and pinks, but for anyone who has seen When Night Didn’t Come, The Tickle Tree, or The Santa Trap, they will understand, Bernatene immerses his illustrations in deep sapphires and lustrous periwinkles. Nevertheless, what Ribbit! lacks in blue, it more than makes up for in the number and quality of frogs, and a friendly, if slightly misunderstood pig.

Read More

  • Posted on January 17, 2012

Pigs On Ice

I know a little something about ice. This winter has made me an expert. Last year, Edmonton broke a record for the quantity and in some respects, quality of snow that descended upon its shovel weary citizens, ending a multi-year drought and sending our city council into a tizzy of snow removal that was not only inadequate to the task, but a┬áspectacular (and occasionally entertaining) public relations fiasco. This year, unlike any year in recent memory, we’ve had very little snow, some rain, ice-polishing gales, and a months-long cycle of freeze-thaw temperature variations. The landscape is pock-marked with pools of hard, lethal ice waiting to catch my rubber soles in a moment of inattention. Nevertheless, in summer when it’s unbearably hot, I will think back to winter’s icy grip with fondness, for there is nothing worse than unrelieved heat.

Just ask the pigs.

Read More