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Four people enter a park and through their eyes young readers see different visions, from the bossy woman and the sad man to the lonely boy and the warm young girl, moving from one voice to another and shifting landscapes and seasons.
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Anthony Browne traces his interest in art back to his father, a former pub owner and frustrated artist. He attended Leeds College of Art and graduated with a degree in graphic design. Before turning his attention to children's books, he worked as a medical artist, a teacher, and a greeting card designer. Anthony Browne has illustrated more than twenty books for children, including PiggyBook, Zoo, and King Kong, plus five books featuring the enormously popular chimp, Willy. His books have won many awards, including The New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children's Book Award, the Kurt Maschler Award, and the Kate Greenaway Medal. In 1998, Anthony Browne was nominated for the prestigious international Hans Christian Andersen Award. He lives in the south of England with his wife and two children.
A Walk in the Park was the second book I published, twenty years ago, and while I have always liked the story, I felt that the illustrations look rushed and clumsy.
I've often wished that I could revisit the book. I've also wanted for some time to write a book from the point of view of different characters in a story. I like the idea of showing that the world looks very different from inside someone else's head. At some stage I must have brought these two ideas together, and out of them came Voices in the Park.
The original, A Walk in the Park, is a very simple story of Mrs. Smythe and her son, Charles, who take their dog, Victoria, to the park. At the same time, Mr. Smith and his daughter, Smudge, take their dog, Albert, to the park. The dogs immediately play together and weave their way through the pages of the book. Mrs. Smythe and Charles sit at one end of a bench, Mr. Smith and Smudge sit at the other end, all ignoring one another. As they see the dogs playing happily together, Charles and Smudge gradually edge toward each other and slowly start to play.
They take off their coats and finally dance on the bandstand along with the dogs. Charles picks a flower and gives it to Smudge, and at that moment they are abruptly separated by their parents and taken home.
I divided the new book into four parts, starting with the woman's voice. She speaks to her dog with much more tenderness than to her son. I set this section I the autumn; as they walk home in silence, a trail of leaves is left in their wake.
The second voice is that of the man, and this section is shown in winter. He also is so wrapped up in his own problems that he doesn't really notice what his child is doing. On their way home they pass the same dreary place and figures we had seen earlier, but this time his daughter is chatting merrily to him and lighting up the scene. In the background we see some early signs of spring.
For the third voice we hear and see the boy's world. At the beginning of this section I've used a tight, crosshatched style. Gradually we see spring develop as he meets the girl; the pen line disappears, and the colors become warmer and brighter.
Finally we hear from the girl, and now it seems to be perpetually summer. Her world is bright and lively and imaginative-very bizarre things happen here.
Something wasn't quite right, however. One day I found myself painting over one of the faces, and it turned into a gorilla. I had a mixture of feelings-I didn't want to do another gorilla book, it didn't seem necessary or relevant to the story to make them gorillas. But it worked. I changed the other characters and it worked for them, too. In a peculiar kind of way it made them more real, more human. And it made the whole book funnier. I still haven't worked out why it works, and in a way I don't want to, but it does show that quite often the best decisions I make have more to do with instinct than intellect.From Publishers Weekly:
Browne again proves himself an artist of inventive voice and vision as he creates perhaps his most psychologically complex work to date via a commonplace experienceAa brief sojourn to a city park. The author of King Kong and the Willy stories again features anthropomorphic chimps, who provide four unique perspectives: an uppity, overbearing mother and her glum son, Charles; and an unemployed fellow and his cheerful daughter, Smudge. What transpires factually is simple: the two children play together, their dogs do the same, the adults keep to themselves. Yet Browne reinvents and overlays the scene as each parent and child in turn describes their version of the events, altering light, colors and words. Browne sets up the tension by starting off with Charles's stylishly dressed mother, who lets her "pedigree Labrador," Victoria, off the leash and then scoffs at "some scruffy mongrel"(Smudge's dog). The matriarch similarly describes Charles's newfound friend as "a very rough-looking child." Through Charles's eyes, readers watch the tops of lampposts, gray clouds and a leafless tree take on the shape of his mother's large chapeau, as her hat-dominated figure casts a shadow over the boy. In the succeeding page, Browne cleverly frames a shift in Charles's mood with an illustration divided by a lamppost: threatening clouds and bare trees give way to blue skies and blossoming branches when a smiling, pigtailed (anything but rough-looking) Smudge on the sunny side of the park bench invites Charles to play on the slide. Browne offers readers much to pore over. His images reflect the human psyche; some are eerie (Edvard Munch's "The Scream" appears in the want ads; a burning tree provides the backdrop for mother and son's silent exit from the park), others uplifting. For example, the subjects of two portraits leaning on the park wall, a gloomy Rembrandt self-portrait and a weeping Mona Lisa, transform into a dancing couple under a street lamp fashioned from a flower, as the jobless man departs the park, cheered by his daughter. Although some discomfiting tonesAin both pictures and textA appear in the vignettes, Browne also celebrates the redeeming power of connecting with another human being. His creativity invites youngsters to tap into their own, as they look for clues between the trees and add their own spins to Browne's four interconnected tales. Ages 7-11.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description DK CHILDREN, 1998. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX078942522X
Book Description DK Children, 1998. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M078942522X
Book Description DK Children, 1998. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P11078942522X