sábado, 8 de dezembro de 2012
By PAMELA PAUL
A Recipe for Love
By Julie Paschkis
32 pp. Harcourt. $16.99. (Picture book; ages 3 to 8)
OTTER AND ODDER
A Love Story
By James Howe
Illustrated by Chris Raschka
40 pp. Candlewick Press. $14. (Picture book; ages 6 to 10)
What do small children know of romantic love outside the family unit or the world of princess-based Disney movies? Two new picture books offer a different view of true love, from nearly doomed courtship to happily-ever-after bliss.
“Why don’t those we love immediately love us back?” might well be the opening refrain of both books. In “Apple Cake: A Recipe for Love,” bun-haired Ida is interested in her book alone, and no matter what Alfonso does, he can’t seem to win her attention. (Echoes of Belle in “Beauty and the Beast,” alas.) But Alfonso, unlike Gaston, has a peaceable plan, a plan to bake his beloved a cake.
And not from any old Betty Crocker mix. Instead, Alfonso climbs a mountain on horseback, fetches his own apples and peels them with a sword. He hangs from the stars and perches upon clouds. He is, quite clearly, over the moon for Ida and making her a cake isn’t mere recipe; it’s an act of devotion. “A tiny bit of salt” is gently scooped with a ladle from the deep sea. He immerses himself in batter. Will Ida be won over by such sweetness?
In look, tone and in the unremarked-upon interracial couple at center, “Apple Cake” bears a strong resemblance to last year’s “Cinnamon Baby” by Nicola Winstanley, with illustrations by Janice Nadeau. But there’s a genuine sweetness to Julie Paschkis’s story and her delicate figures are beautifully arranged, swept off their feet, in the book’s open, cream-colored pages.
True love faces far more daunting obstacles in in “Otter and Odder,” by James Howe, author of “The Misfits” and the Bunnicula series, among many other books for children. A river otter, appropriately named Otter, falls in love when he least expects it. And his love, of course, is someone (or something) completely inappropriate: a fish. He loves the makings of a fine otter meal. “Impossible,” he thought. “I am in love with my food source.”
She, it turns out, is Myrtle, or Gurgle (it’s unclear because Otter has water in his ears). “Please don’t eat me, her round, sweet, glistening eyes pleaded with Otter while he was gazing into them, finding love.” And so a tender, seemingly doomed relationship blossoms in the river’s ebb and flow. The two animals find mutual bliss in appropriate love-montage pursuits: playing hide and seek, swimming together, warming their faces in the morning sun and silently considering the stars at night. If only theirs weren’t crossed!
Chris Raschka’s illustrations are delightfully childlike, an apt depiction of the early, innocent throes of first love: full of life, emotion-driven, often more than a little bit silly. This blur of emotions is appropriately set in a wash of watery color where the two pencil-drawn figures of Otter and Myrtle float, unmoored by emotion and the impossibility of their situation. Together, Howe and Raschka movingly explore the complexities of who and how we love, where love is found and where it takes us.
Posted by Francisco Augusto Vaz Brasil at 11:25