Thursday, July 09, 2009

Flow It, Show It, Long As God Can Grow It: Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman

"I don't mean to stare.

Mister, you've got crazy hair!"

Bonnie is a feisty girl who can't help remarking on the stranger's amazingly long, luxuriant and utterly wild locks. Even when he warns her that his hair is, well, unique...

"In my hair
Gorillas leap,
Tigers stalk,
And ground sloths sleep....

Hunters send in
Radio back
Their positions.

Still, we've lost a dozen there,
Lost inside my crazy hair."

... she is unfazed. Bonnie whips out her special comb and tackles the tangle, only to find that the hair is a world of its own. Drawn inside the man's shock of hair, Bonnie finds another dimension, filled with bears, pirates, and adventure, where she gladly "dances with the dancers there, happy as a millionaire."

Fans of Gaiman's surrealistically styled work (Coraline: The Graphic Novel, The Graveyard Book, (reviewed here) and The Dangerous Alphabet, (reviewed here), will dive into this mysterious thatch with glee, despite the characteristic looming sense of, if not danger, at least a certain menacing ambience which underlies the dreamlike exuberance of the verse and art. McKean's angular and wispy drawings are juxtaposed with the realistic photographic portrayal of the hair itself, which swirls, twists, and curls through the pages in the same flow as Gaiman's words, set with great typographic variations, in a current of design which carries the reader's eyes through the pages seamlessly with the illustrations. Crazy Hair (HarperCollins, 2009)is sure to please the adventurous picture book fan with its inimitable style and spirit.

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