Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Color It.... Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

These are the golden days of the picture book.

Arguably the oldest of human literary forms (remember those cave paintings), the art of creating a seamless merging of thought, word, and image has come to a flowering in book design which almost transcends the ancient format of bound pages. Such a book is Caldecott winner Laura Vaccaro Seeger's Green (Roaring Brook, 2012).

Closed, its cover is an unprepossessing but sturdy green square with three abstact leaf shapes on a darker green background and the title in pale and plain lower-case letters. But under that cover each page explores a facet of the color green with an intriguing die-cut circle which leads the eye into a surprising change of scene on the next page. "Forest green" on the first double-page spread reveals a window of color which fits into its design of a deep forest and yet leads to the next page, "sea green," in which the revealed area appears as the pattern of a sea turtle's shell as he swims in a turquoise sea among darker kelp. That page has an integral opening which leads to "lime green," the pale and subtle green of the cut fruit's flesh, and that page's opening leads to "pea green," a spoonful of peas, each its own shade of green.

Vaccaro continues her exploration of the color, with art and wit. The "slow green" of a caterpillar gives way to the "glow green" of fluorescent fireflies chased by children in a summer's twilight, the red barn beside them giving way to the red of apples in an "apple red" tree. There are surprises, too, with the "wacky green" of the word "zebra" seen through the die-cut opening and disappearing into the design of the following page and the "never green" of a red and white stop sign, and the "no green" of that same barn white with snow. And at last there is a promise--"forever green" as a boy plants a seed by a green cheese moon, which finally opens to a sun lighting a seedling with its own new and hopeful green of spring.

With its inviting page texture and that intriguing circular die cut on each layout, this book is a feast for the senses--begging to be seen, to be touched, and to be voiced.

As in her earlier books, First the Egg (Caldecott Honor Book and Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book (Awards)), The Hidden Alphabet, One Boy, and Dog and Bear (Neal Porter Books) (Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winner-Best Picture Book) (Awards)), Seeger continues to create books that are benchmarks in the art of the picture book, one with layers of sense and meaning offering much to readers of almost any age.

The New York Times reviewer says that Green is "…one of those deceptively simple picture books that to the casual bookstore browser can seem to be about nothing much at all. But the reader who settles down and slowly pages through its gorgeous acrylic paintings or, better yet, reads it aloud to a young child, will find rich rewards."

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