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Archive for November 8th, 2017

by Sam Juliano

“Ill met by moonlight, proud Titania”           -William Shakespeare

A brooding sensibility and undercurrent of melancholia suffuses the pictorial design of Richard Jackson’s All Ears, All Eyes suggesting that this is the picture book Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier would have made if he aimed his creativity down this road.  Though art aficionados may evoke the painting Forest by the post-impressionist Paul Cezanne or an even closer kinship to Belgian artist Pol Ledant’s Magic Forest, both Jackson and the book’s illustrator Katherine Tillotson fully understand their lower grade audience for whatever iconographic intricacy the book holds for adults or older readers.  Advanced book lovers who partake of this magical, nocturnal foray may even expect to hear Lord what fools these mortals be! or Are you sure/That we are awake? It seems to me/That yet we sleep, we dream.  The earlier tapestries even give a hint that  we may behold someone such as Francis Lennox, the protagonist in a children’s novel by Francis Hodgson Burnett.  But Jackson and Tillotson’s focus is more scene specific.  From the luminous, golden dusk infiltrating the spaces between trees like an advancing forest fire to the onset of a kaleidoscopic slumber they chronicle the creatures who emerge only under a cloak of darkness.  Jackson’s sensory word triggers set the stage for the real assault on the senses engineered by Tillotson, whose multidimensional tapestries expand the metaphorical observations and supple use of onamopeia.  Young readers will derive the added thrill of trying to find nature’s creatures in some areas obscured by saturated color clashes.

Airborne leaves on the opening end papers provide answers on the double page frontispiece spread.  Sound and sight are posed interrogatively on the daytime title page,  followed by a hooting owl seemingly imbedded in a tree as daylight yields (Who-who) as two raccoons inhabit the yellow to orange changeover at eventide.  The ebbing illumination is ushered in by the omnipresent owl, depicted by Tillotson as a specter discernible by its eyes, a sharp contrast to what was fashioned by John Schoenherr in the Caldecott Medal winning Owl Moon.   Jackson’s query What scoots between roots? is answered in the prickliest of terms, before the unmistakable sound of a whirring bat, a sharp contradiction from a deer negotiated in ghostly silhouette.  Bright colored leaves falls as purple hues work harder yet to pre-empt the dimming illumination. (more…)

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