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The best-selling illustrator of Harvey Potters Balloon Farm teams up with Catherine Cowan in this buoyant fantasy of a boy who brings home a wave based on the story by Nobel laureate Octavio Paz. Stunning oil paintings shimmer with light and laughter in this unexpected, unforgettable tour de force.
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Catherine Cowan is the author of My Friend the Piano. She lives with her husband and six shedding, purring cats in Long Beach, California.Review:
Based on the story by Octavio Paz. In retelling this story for a child audience, Catherine Cowan retains the metaphoric language of the Paz original. She replaces the adult protagonist with a child who falls in love with a wave and brings it home. Mark Buehner's acrylic and oil paintings capture the powerful sensuality and surrealism of the original. Early on, the art mirrors an innocent relationship by using stable perspectives and centered compositions. Yet, the sun-drenched colors of the beach, water, and sky bleed off the page, hinting that even the most willing wave cannot be constrained. . . The wave's return "in frozen form" to the sea stands as a far more loving gesture than the ironic one Paz provides in his story for adults (in which the man sells the wave-turned-ice to a restaurant to chill bottles of wine). Cowan's ending carries a different irony: in the tame waters of his bathtub, the boy gazes out the window at an anthropomorphized cloud and wonders if he could befriend it. -- Horn Book, September/October 1997
Most Children take home lightning bugs, caterpillars or stray kittens for pets, but one boy chooses an ocean wave.
Based on a story by Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz, My Life With the Wave translates into an offbeat and charming picture book adapted by Catherine Cowan and illustrated by Mark Buehner, whose talent for the surreal emerged with Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm.
My Life With the Wave is a far-out adventure that manages an undercurrent about human relation-ships with nature.
The boy and the wave, unable to part company after a sunny vacation, stand on the beach, where the boy pleads the unspoken question with his father: "Can I take her home?"
The flabbergasted father --- white sunscreen on his nose and purple fish on his swimming trunks -- leans back, overwhelmed, as the boy and the wave beg with body language. The wave looks like a watery stalk of celery, its foamy crest hugging the father's houlders -- while the boy, in turn, hugs the wave.
Home they go, where the wave floods rooms with sunshine and water, frightening the cat and amusing the boy.
"If I caught and hugged her," the boy says, "She would rise up tall like a liquid tree, then burst into a shower and bathe me in her foam."
Cowan's adaptation is poetic and often open-ended, leaving room for Buehner's provocative pictures, which extend the story.
In one scene, the wave rolls and bucks like a pony, a cowboy hat perched on her crest. Elsewhere, she turns dark and ferocious, spilling forth sharks, sea monsters and dozens of glowing yellow eyes.
Each depictation contains tiny, hidden images of sea horses, whales and common household animals such as cats and mice.
As the visit extends, the wave changes from playful to sly, spiteful and, finally, dangerous. Even the boy grows angry and frightened by his uncontrollable pet.
When winter arrives, the wave freezes into a beautiful ice sculpture and the family, in resignation and relief, returns it to the beach.
The imaginative My Life With the Wave offers as its theme a subtle reminder of the difficulty of taming or even coexisting with nature. Beyond that, it has a story --- an element too often missing in children's picture books. -- The Columbus Dispatch, July 17, 1997
The new world champion . . . may be the absolutely stunning picture book My Life with the Wave. The story comes from Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz, and it has been translated from the Spanish and adapted by Catherine Cowan. Illustrator Mark Buehner, working in oil and acrylic, brings it to perfect life.
On his first trip to the beach, a boy falls in love with the waves -- and one slips out of the sea and begs to come home as the boy's pet. He smuggles her onto the train home, hiding her cupful by cupful in the water cooler. At home, the wave curls out and makes herself comfortable, flooding the old, dark rooms "with light and air, driving away the shadows with her blue and green reflections." She plays gently with the boy, attracts the s un in to dance, and -- best of all -- "rocked me to sleep in her waters and sang sweet sea songs into the shell of my ear."
But, oh, "her moods were as changeable as the tide," faster than you can say Sebastian Junger, the wave becomes a perfect horror. The steps toward banishing the wave are as carefully and beautifully described as her arrival. The rising and falling action is as measured as the wave itself.
And at the end of the book, becalmed in his bathtub, the boy is dream ing of his next pet, another aspect of Mother Nature and one just as likely to "weather-strip" his house.
Using all my imagination, I can't think who wouldn't fall in love with this one. -- San Jose Mercury News, Sept. 14, 1997
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