A child imagines what has taken place in his backyard, from the present all the way back to the creation of the world.
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An artist who's been much honored by his peers at the Society of Illustrators (15 medals) explores a familiar theme: following a suburban yard from the present back through times when ``cowboys sang lonesome songs and died on cold plains'' and ``Braves loved maidens, and great battles with no names raged'' to dinosaurs, mountains rising and falling, and ``hydrogen and darkness and the hand of God.'' But the concept is secondary to Collier's fascination with the composition at which he excels. A tree and the figure posed against it become a single form; light on a ball echoes a crescent moon; dramatic light and muted colors (to say nothing of one wall of a partly built house, poised alone on a concrete slab) have an intriguingly surreal, dreamlike air. Unfortunately, the striking arrangements of images don't further the narrative or the development of the idea, as do Catalanotto's lovely illustrations for George Ella Lyon's similar, but far more appealing, Who Came Down That Road? (1992). Lyon's lyrical text, too, has a sense of mystery and awe that's lacking here. A handsome series of paintings, but not essential. (Picture book. 4-8) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From School Library Journal:
Grade 1-3-While remaining focused on a set location-a child's backyard-the text walks readers back in time. Large steps into the past are taken quickly, moving from Indians to dinosaurs and finally to a time when volcanos rose from the seas and "the hand of God moved." The text is spare but not seamless. There are awkward transitions between pages even given the repeated refrain, "all in my backyard," which attempts to hold this book together. Visually it is stunning. Reminiscent of the work of Andrew Wyeth, Collier's accomplished and evocative oil paintings are luminescent and movingly real. And yet, there's little child appeal here. The narrative function of the pictures is diminished by two powerful portraits, one of an Indian chief, the other of a lone cowboy lying dead, which are both visually disconnected from the book's setting. Although the concept is of interest, this treatment of the subject works principally as a showcase for fine art. For a more balanced book utilizing a similar idea, turn to George Ella Lyon's Who Came Down that Road (Orchard, 1992).
Martha Topol, Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City, MI
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Puffin, 1996. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0140543325