Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February 6th, 2018

by Sam Juliano

The last time a picture book featuring a house as its central character connected intimately with the world around it was none other than Virginia Lee Burton’s Caldecott Medal winning The Little House back in 1940.  The indomitable country cottage witnessed technological advancements and population increases, transforming idyllic pastures to urban congestion.  Burton’s classic posed the modest structure as a symbol, an unchanging  seasonal sentry who watched the countryside transform until she was crowded out to the point where time and place became insignificant.  The focus in Deborah Freedman’s This House, Once is more elemental, for whatever the inborn kinship with the world around it.  For young readers the book teaches the origin of the materials used to build, for adults the metaphysical implications of how tangible materials were at one time part of nature’s scheme.  Indeed, one of children’s literature’s deepest thinkers, Freedman, once an architect, will have the most astute wanting to trace everything back to a starting point.  Tucked neatly but resolutely through the pages is an acute sense of loss, unavoidable in a world where turnover is inevitable in both tangible and symbolic ways. (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

by Sam Juliano

But leave me a little love, 
A voice to speak to me in the day end, 
A hand to touch me in the dark room 
Breaking the long loneliness. 
In the dusk of day-shapes 
Blurring the sunset, 
One little wandering, western star 
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow. 
Let me go to the window, 
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk 
And wait and know the coming 
Of a little love.             -Carl Sandberg

Certainly a child would never envision it for obvious reasons, but as an adult reader I was almost expecting to see in that remarkable eighteen window showcase at the book’s center, the wheel chair-bound James Stewart looking out through one of the windows with his camera or binoculars spying on the activities of other neighbors. Of course nothing as abominable as what went on in behind one window across the courtyard in Hitchcock’s 1954 masterpiece could ever transpire in the celebration of life known as Windows, but there is nonetheless a brooding sensibility in E.B. Goodale’s art that more than warrants a comparison.   In the acclaimed coming-of-age novel House on Mango Street by Sandra Sisneros focuses on a young Latina girl named Esperanza. Throughout the book, window imagery is used as a symbol of regret and entrapment. For example, we learn that Esperanza’s long-dead great-grandmother spent her life sitting sadly by her window, stuck in an unhappy marriage. Four women in Esperanza’s neighborhood are trapped in their apartments and they also sit by their windows, looking down onto the street. When Esperanza sees these women, she vows never to become one of them.

Of course Windows’ focus is far more benign and scene-specific.  The metaphor of the window as a device to establish a human connection with the community and shared activities and rituals by just taking a stroll down the street (the twilight canvas with its golden hues and illuminated portals to life and all we do to sustain ourselves, including our reverence for animal companions is a pictorial jewel) is ingenious. Goodale’s art makes superlative use of line sketches You might pass a cat! and autumnal colors One window might be tall, with the curtains drawn…) and perspective Another window could be dark… and then the darkened house everyone remembers from their youth, though this one displays a stone statue of the Virgin Mother (like the line drawings of garbage can and shopping carriage and full color of dog and red hood). (more…)

Read Full Post »