Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Love Kidlit: Flotsam

I recently took a couple of days to archive all of the books my husband and I have accumulated over the past 5 years. Having a library that is growing exponentially is great, but it can be problematic now that we've reached the point of not actually knowing what books we already own. I'm using Librarything.com (our user name is MartinPeckBooks) and so far I love it. It's very easy to sort, search, browse, categorize, add wishlist books, share our library, and I can even export the whole library as a spreadsheet. It was quite an undertaking to record all 1175+ books but it really needed to happen. Having all of our books cataloged is a tremendous asset---I'm thrilled to have finally done it!
Ok. So back to the matter at hand. Today's installment of I Love Kidlit. I've selected Flotsam, the Caldecott winning instant classic from David Wiesner. A genius of the wordless narrative, Wiesner's picturebooks capture and indulge in the pure fantastic capabilities of illustration. His proclivity for telling rich stories within stories comes from a superior level of the creative mind I myself can only dream of.

Not to mention this book is full of so many things that I love. Old cameras, vintage photographs, traveling back in time. A story that starts in reality and quickly transforms into a journey through whimsical tableaus of the impossible, only to come back right where we started and full of potential for countless more untold stories. It's everything you could hope for out of a purely pictorial voyage. I know that it's definitely a book I would have embraced as a child, likely spinning my own drawings and imaginings from where his left off. That is a magical quality that I wish more books had. To feel as if the book goes on even after the cover is closed.

As always, Wiesner's images are beautifully executed, and fish and animals landscapes and artifacts are clearly his strength. As I love his work, I do think his people and faces fall a bit short of perfection. His child faces tend to be a bit wonky, his bodies and expressions a bit stiff. To me, it seems as if he's much more interested in drawing everything else.

But overall, I think that we could all aspire to be as imaginative and well crafted as Mr. Wiesner. Although I've never done much in the way of sequential wordless imagery, this book makes me want to try it. There's so much to learn and this book is a great piece of inspiration.

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