by Sam Juliano
Though much of his picture book output was produced in collaboration with some exceedingly high profile award winning authors, Wendell Minor sometimes traversed his outdoor habitats solo. The inspiration for his latest solitary foray has produced an uncommonly beautiful book, one that focuses on the animals that live around us while we engage during the day and also while we sleep. There is nothing obscure or geographically specialized in Minor’s new work, rather he seeks to sponsor an open house tour – a zoo without physical parameters that is dictated only by what terrain the readers reside in. Excluding those living in the urban centers or the desert, most would readily identify Wendall’s benign array of wildlife wonderment, either because they encountered some of the animals or were long familiar with the sounds they make. The renowned author-illustrator enticingly broaches how a day turns into night (and vice-versa) and how motherhood is at the center of activity for all mammals.
At the very start Minor sets up the different cast of players that inhabit the diurnal and nocturnal landscapes of chosen locations. His opening spread depicts a wooded clearing framed by a fence, tree trucks and a flat stone pathway. There is pictorial continuity in the design, yet the left panel, subtly lit, shows the creatures we might see in the daylight, while the right shows the ones only seen or heard when the stars are twinkling. Minor asks his young readers to identify those who inhabit his ravishing tapestries, by posing an innocuous inquiry. No wildlife artist captures the soaring majesty of a hawk in flight like Minor, and the bird is promptly presented in detailed close-up that is as arresting as it is radiant: (more…)