quinta-feira, 25 de junho de 2015

Dahlov Ipcar’s ‘Black and White,’ and More - Children’s books By LEONARD S. MARCUS



Dahlov Ipcar’s ‘Black and White,’ and More

Children’s books By

 


The New York Times, Sunday Book Review - JUNE 19, 2015



The night, as a fervent lyric made famous by Patti Smith implies, may not belong to preschoolers. But it is nonetheless a time — and mystery-laden phenomenon — that fascinates all young children, and arouses fear in many. From the ritualized consolations of “Goodnight Moon” to the antic ­rebellion of “In the Night Kitchen,” picture books have charted countless courses through the dark. The tradition continues in three new books and one notable reissue.
“Edmond: The Moonlit Party” starts off, auspiciously, with three sharply drawn, idiosyncratic animal characters who live as neighbors in an old chestnut tree. ­Edmond, the diffident stay-at-home squirrel, makes nut jam, devours adventure stories and spends “his evenings making pompoms.” Mr. George Owl plays dress-up, and gregarious Harry the bear throws late-night dance parties. The reader is led to wonder: When party time next rolls around, will Edmond join in the fun?
The French writer Astrid Desbordes adores her quirky characters, and her enthusiasm is contagious. She notes with admiration the care with which George stores his costumes and the time it takes Edmond to complete one of his “magnificent” pompom hats. Details like these firm up and anchor a story, especially one tailored for younger children, in whom concrete thought still predominates. So it feels like a momentary wrong turn toward the abstract when Harry announces his intention to serve a “nothing tart” at his next party (a what?); and again when George, sounding like an owlish existentialist, muses on the seagull’s carefree “life of wind and waves.” The illustrator, Marc Boutavant, who is also from France, does a better job of keeping the threesome’s escapades grounded in specifics. His ­exuberant, balloon-bright graphics — a stylish retro-Pop brew with winsome notes of Takashi Murakami and Richard Scarry — set a party mood long before shy Edmond decides the time has finally come for him to step out onto the dance floor.


From "The Night World." 

While the night sky serves as a ­backdrop to Edmond’s awakening, the transformative power of darkness is key in Mordicai Gerstein’s “The Night World.” A house cat rouses a little boy from bed for a late-night ramble. Together they make their way through darkened interiors and out into the front yard. What to the boy has long been familiar territory now looks and feels both exciting and strange. “Are these shadows roses?” the boy wonders. “That shadow is a deer.” Painting in a subtly modulated palette of grays and blacks, Gerstein, who won the 2004 Caldecott Medal for “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers,” offers readers a kind of night-vision-goggles view of a child’s absorbing adventure in perception. In perhaps the most remarkable illustration, Gerstein freeze-frames a moment just before dawn as color seeps back into the world. We glimpse a frenzied scene of scurrying raccoons, birds and other nocturnal wildlife, all mixed up in a gorgeous tangle of light and shadow. For Gerstein, an old-fashioned Romantic, wonder lies everywhere for those prepared to see it, and wide-eyed 4- and 5-year-olds look to be among the prime candidates.

Gerstein’s fable unfolds as a kind of waking dream. But in Dahlov Ipcar’s “Black and White,” real dreams are made visible: the dreams, as it happens, of two frisky, elegant-looking dogs — one black, the other white. A clever plot twist doubles as an inspired metaphor for the dogs’ friendship: Their strikingly similar dreams feature a variety of animals with black-and-white coloration that combines their own — penguins, zebras and antelopes, among others.

From "Edmond: The Moonlit Party." 

“Black and White” was first published in 1963, the year of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and Ipcar has acknowledged her wish that her story might be read, in part, as an appeal for racial equality. Yet this is not just another message book. The daughter of the sculptor William Zorach and the artist Marguerite Zorach, Ipcar, now 97, illustrated her first picture book, “The Little Fisherman,” with a text by Margaret Wise Brown, in 1945. Brown, best known as the author of “Goodnight Moon,” remains America’s peerless poet of early childhood, and it would seem that more than a little of Brown’s puckish wit and calming lyricism rubbed off on her collaborator in this waggish tale about a “little black dog and a little white dog” with big dreams.
What, though, of the little girl who speaks the title line in “Tell Me What to Dream About”? She and her big sister are chattering away at lights-out in the room they share. But what exactly are we overhearing? An anxious child’s forlorn complaint, or a classic bid to keep the conversation going a while longer at bedtime? Either way, the younger child’s request and her sister’s indulgent responses give Giselle Potter all the reason she needs to paint a series of playful, faux-naïf, surrealist-inflected fantasy tableaus, nearly all of them ­suggested by a toy, fabric pattern or other visual prompt in the room.
It is sad of course to imagine a child feeling all thumbs about dreaming. Might this then be a bellwether tale about the rumored dire effects of overabsorption in new media? Maybe yes and maybe no. But it is just as plausible to read Potter’s scenario as an old-fashioned reminder that young children almost always have too much to absorb, and that for them a quiet story time in the company of a nurturing parent or caregiver is a reliable antidote to a day’s worth of newness and chaos. Margaret Wise Brown waxed wise indeed when she described the essential difference between the ordinary run of stories that children tell themselves and those to be found in the children’s books that rise to the level of literature. “A child’s own story,” Brown observed, “is a dream, but a good story is a dream that is true for more than one child.” A very particular little girl like the one we meet here might well be unsatisfied with her own and her sister’s improvisations. But the evocative dreamscapes of “Tell Me What to Dream About” are another story.


EDMOND: THE MOONLIT PARTY
By Astrid DesbordesIllustrated by Marc Boutavant
32 pp. Enchanted Lion Books. $17.95. (Ages 4 to 8)

THE NIGHT WORLD
Written and illustrated by Mordicai Gerstein
40 pp. Little, Brown & Company. $18. (Ages 3 to 6)

BLACK AND WHITE
Written and illustrated by Dahlov Ipcar
40 pp. Flying Eye Books. $17.95. (Ages 3 to 7)

TELL ME WHAT TO DREAM ABOUT
Written and illustrated by Giselle Potter
40 pp. Schwartz & Wade Books. $17.99. (Ages 3 to 7)

Leonard S. Marcus is the author, most ­recently, of “Randolph Caldecott: The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/21/books/review/dahlov-ipcars-black-and-white-and-more.html?contentCollection=books&action=click&module=NextInCollection&region=Footer&pgtype=article
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