"Make a picture for us, Horace!"I love Jen Bryant's books. Jen Bryant has safely delivered many an important human cargo to the reader and I love Melissa Sweet's illustrations. Melissa Sweet has captured time and place and the people who inhabit those realms again and again. Together they are amazing.
What's not to love? Nothing.
I took my book out into the world and what did I notice?
A splash of red!
It is beautifully crafted and rendered. Text and illustrations play off one another and flow one into the next.
Bryant's writing is crisp and clean yet rhythmic and flowing. Events in Pippin's life are presented with the appropriate amount of detail. Bryant provides context for the reader, I will remember Pippin's birthday for many Februarys to come. Readers will understand and empathize with Pippin's journey. His life in West Chester and then Gosham. His life before and after the war. The importance of his mother, grandmother and wife, Jennie. There is plenty for a reader to learn here, but those readers wanting more can explore the historical note, author's note, illustrator's note and page of resources for further reading.
Bryant's "Make a picture for us, Horace!" refrain creates a thread to the story and provides a connection to the reader. We all want Horace to make a picture - for them and for us.
Sweet's illustrations sing of the hard yet beautiful life of a person who saw life around him. Her illustrations call the reader to slow down - to look and look again at:
The endpapers that get the story started and finish it off just right.
The rich textures and patterns that tell Pippin's own story.
The perspective that provides a window into his world.
The varied artistic styles that capture the stages in his life.
The color that captures what he saw around him.
This book is a full course of writing and art. A beautiful tribute to a talented artist.
Both Bryant and Sweet handle with dignity Pippin's life after the war and his struggle to create art once again. They create compassion and respect for him. Readers will be calling out,
"Make a picture for us, Horace!"