The Garden is a miraculous place, and anything can happen on a beautiful moonlit night.

Yes. If summoned by the Brave Good Bugs, Leaf Men might swoop down from the trees, shoot a spider queen through the heart with an arrow made of thistle, save the life of an old lady and tend the garden. It could happen.

More importantly, you wish it could happen.

Most folks have a mental list of creative go-to’s: actors, writers, painters, chocolate manufacturers, etc., they will turn to over and over again for inspiration, stimulation, and pleasure. My list includes illustrators, and William Joyce has long been a charter member of this small group of artists who wander through the visual reference library in my brain, hanging and re-hanging paintings, tweeking the database, adding something new to the permanent collection every now and then.

The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs is not new, but it’s quintessential Joyce: whimsical in the truest sense of the word, strange in any sense of the word, staggeringly gorgeous, narrative, and reverential. Joyce somehow manages to make his books feel cinematic, like old-timey movies, in particular screwball comedies and Errol Flynn adventures, with just a touch of sentimentality. This is especially true of A Day with Wilbur Robinson, another great Joyce picture book, but it is also present in The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. The only requirement is a comfortable chair and a big bowl of buttered popcorn.

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