Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes, by Jeanette Winter; Beach Lane Press, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 4-8.
Jeanette Winter’s latest biographical picture book (Biblioburro: A True Story from Colombia; Malala, a Brave Girl from Pakistan) is about Joseph Cornell, a twentieth-century artist and sculptor based in Queens, New-York. He was famous for creating collages and three-dimensional artwork called assemblage, where he filled handmade boxes with his artwork and found objects. Cornell also had a soft spot for children, and at his last exhibit, held at the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture in 1972, Cornell instructed the curators to hang his artwork three feet from the ground so that children could better see the tiny worlds Cornell created. Spare, precise text accompanies dreamy, somewhat surreal images of dancers in snow, pipes blowing soap bubbles, and frosty pink cupcakes. Despite being restrained by two dimensions, Winter’s renderings provide a surprising perception of depth, and are alive with colors, shapes and patterns. This is an inviting and magical exploration of an artist who created dream worlds wrought miniature. Art enthusiasts of all ages may be inspired to create their own memory boxes and dream of fantastic places much as Cornell once did.