I’m reading The Wainscott Weasel to my daughter at bedtime. Tor Seidler’s rhythmic storytelling and Fred Marcellino’s graceful illustrations are so totally in tune with each other, it’s worth taking off the shelf if you haven’t read it in a while.
Stellar pacing and expressive illustration, this is a prime example of words and art in perfect harmony.
Published in 1993 by HarperCollins and reissued in 2014, this was the second collaboration for Seidler and Marcellino (A Rat’s Tale, about a
Manhattan rodent, appeared in 1986), and the combination is electric. The story follows love-struck weasels, striped bass, and a predatory osprey all living on the South Fork of Long Island. There are daring acts of heroism, dancing, and dashes of philosophical musings on a weasel’s rightful place in the world. Big concepts, yes, but skillfully and simply articulated for young readers. Up and coming children’s book creators would learn much about their craft by reading this book.
Siedler continues to write–Mean Margaret (1997) was named
Notable Children’s Book by the American Library Association, and his most recent book, Firstborn, was published in 2015. Marcellino designed book jackets for Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale and Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities and others before entering and revolutionizing the world of children’s picture book art. He died of colon cancer in July 2001.
Puss in Boots, by Charles Perrault, illustrated by Clementine Sourdais; Little Gestalten, $16.95, 32 pages, all ages.
Little Red Riding Hood, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, illustrated by Clementine Sourdais; Little Gestalten, $16.95, 32 pages, all ages.
Just as every generation reinvents Shakespeare to suit its own needs, we also reimagine classic fairytales. Here, the beloved tales of “Puss in Boots” and “Little Red Riding Hood” are accompanied by the intricate cut-paper illustrations of French artist Clementine Sourdais. Designed to be read like a traditional book, the cutouts on each page fold onto each other, creating a complex masterpiece visible from both the front and back boards. Sourdais employs a spare color palette of black and white, plus an accent color – blood red for “Little Red Riding Hood” and regal yellow in “Puss in Boots.” When opened accordion style, each image is full of vibrant detail. Another surprise awaits readers if they take a flashlight to the books and project the pictures of wolves, cats and wayward little girls onto a wall. These tiny, charming treasures – each volume measures a dainty 5.5 inches by 6 inches – breathe new life into stories almost two centuries old and will delight young readers and pop-up collectors alike.