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Archive for January 26th, 2019

 

by Sam Juliano

The last time the surname of Robert received titular misrepresentation was only a bit over a year ago when a nasal distortion caused by a nasty cold resulted in a stricken boy repeatedly voicing it to alert his “Mom” in Audrey Vernick, Liz Garton Scanlon and Matthew Cordell’s irresistible Bob, Not Bob!  That is until early 2018 when talented Pacific Northwest author-artist Elizabeth Rose Stanton’s wildly popular classroom favorite Bub made its debut.  A green, pointy eared humanoid markedly androgynous, “Bub” inherited his identification via a seemingly innocuous spelling error.  On the very first day of school he handed in an arithmetic assignment, and failed to close the top of his “O”, and after his teacher calls him “Bub” the name took hold.  As it is Bub is the middle child in a family of civilized monsters physically distinguished by a protruding bottom front tooth, and the only male offspring.  Hanging on a living room wall are framed photos of some favorite family monsters like Frankenstein and a green-eyed cyclops and in a delightful homage the esteemed protagonists of Stanton’s last two best-selling picture books, Henny and Peddles.  The oldest of the children is Bernice.  On a page giving young readers a maiden look at the family dynamic, “Maw” is partial to sunflowers and wears a red necklace, “Paw” is white collar minimalist, while Bernice, who had taken up the guitar is a straight A student.  She is also smitten with red bows, which dot her dress and tie her hair in a pigtail.  Bob sports a blue apron and favors toys, crayons and paper airplanes.  The toddler is a girl who is referred to as “The Baby” bereft of any agreement on a name.  A pink head band features a pastel red flower and her cut dress is multicolored.  Mind you the parents in this loving household could be rambunctious when they couldn’t firm anything up and their debates on a name, Gertrude!  Gisell! Gabriella!  Gladys! were deafening.  In a splendid touch that would surely win approval from the late picture book humorist James Marshall (The Stupids Step Out)  even the characters on the wall frames can’t take the bombast.  Some wear headphones, ear plus and bolts, and the others muffle the sound with their fingers. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

 I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.”    

     –Eric Liddell, Chariots of Fire (1981)

An adult reader of David Covell’s impressionist tone poem of a picture book Run Wild might initially conjure up the British Best Picture winner Chariots of Fire, which features two Olympic runners who earn gold medals for their country in track.  One of them, an English Jew runs to overcome prejudice, the other a Scottish missionary runs for the glory of God.  A fleeting recollection, but one in the spirit of a children’s book reveling in the most sensory of human activity.  The book’s creator of course isn’t looking at race, religion or underlying motives, he is in fact stripping rhyme or reason from this equation to document what a child would see, hear and feel during an outdoor marathon that will bring geographically connection to various terrains, geological obstacles and the elements.  Covell’s propositions would be daunting even to the most fleet-footed of youthful runners, much less the modest achievers featured in a all-encompassing rendez vous with Mother Nature.  Named one of the Ten Best Picture Books of 2018 in late November by the prestigious New York Times committee Run Wild is a watercolor tour de force, in fact it’s bleeding images almost seem overly saturated, whether exhibiting rabbit ears drawn in thick brush strokes like something you’d see in an Elementary School art class or cotton candy grey clouds and captions his free-spirited jaunts with handwritten printed text to underscore that running is a bohemian endeavor that should never be comprised by time, extent or restrictions. (more…)

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