“To Uncle Al, who imagined I could be an artist”
Rob Gonsalves is an artist of illusion, and in his ‘Imagine a…’ series serve to remind us of how important imagination is to childhood.
Reminiscent of Escher, Gonsalves’ paintings, begin wherever the eye falls and morphs into something completely different as the eye travels further into each painting. The very cover of the Imagine a Day is a self-fulfiling prophesy, as a family of young sand-castle builders seem to create a life-sized castle.
Gonsalves’ surrealist play on perspectives makes the step into fantasy seem effortless. Sarah L. Thompson textual accompaniment gives young readers a cue to the phantasmagorical possibilities of each work.
imagine a day…
… when the edge of the map
is only the beginning
of what we can explore.
On several pages, the characters seem to be travelling into the painting, or conversely leaping out of the pages. An inspired young reader can be prompted to follow along, curiously.
Writer at Art1st
PS: If you run out of pages, fear not, for you find several collections online, like here.
“If you walk into a certain room in a famous art museum, you will see a beautiful bronze sculpture of a little dancer. She stands with one foot forward, her hands clasped behind her back – and an expression on her face that seems tired and a little sad.”
Degas and the Little Dancer tells the story of Edgar Degas and his young muse Marie van Goethem. This is a particularly poignant episode in the illustrious Degas’ life, and Laurence Anholt retells it beautifully.
The story begins from the outside and works its way in. There is museum guard who is enamoured by a statue. Day in and day out, she is his immovable friend, and he, her bard. Children flock in and he tells her tale, “Her name is Marie…”. The children flock out, inspired.
The story itself is of a girl with a dream of dancing and a life of struggle, and an ageing man with a fraying temper and a masterful eye. When Marie was in dire need of money to continue with her ballet training, Degas asked her to sit for him.
The result of this human collection, and here we steer away from the book, was a statue that fleetingly became the heart of controversies. For Degas had made her from beeswax and real fabric, and not grand marble. For Degas picked a muse that wasn’t a goddess, but human and moreover an ‘opera rat’.
Anholt has incorporated Degas’ original compositions in his illustrations. A budding Degas’ aficionado can flip through the pages to find and name Degas’ masterpieces. With strong but gentle pencil strokes, the world behind the paintings is brought ahead. The reader is left with a bittersweet reminder of what living forever can look like.
Do you have a Degas painting that you really love? Tell us what it is and why.
Writer at Art1st
Imagine a world with no colour. No green grass, no blue skies, no colour at all! Well, Zot lived on a greyscale planet, and let me tell you, it was a sad place.
So who is Zot anyway? He is the main alien in Gabriel Alborozo’s The Colour Thief. Unlike his friends and brethren, Zot is a go-getter. Instead of wallowing in his monochromatic home, he sets off on an adventure to the shining blue and green planet that gleams across the galaxy. Any guesses on which planet is what? If you were paying close attention to the title of the story, you know what happens next.
Zot stole all the colours! He called out in his strange language ‘and all the red soared through the air and into his open bag.’ Sparkling with happiness, Zot raced across the planet collecting every single colour, until, he saw a boy with an orange balloon. Well, of course, he stole the orange too. But I won’t tell you what happened after that- you’ll just have to read the book.
Alborozo writes and illustrates his own books. In The Colour Thief, his illustrations are vibrant, when colourful and melancholic when bleached. Having worked as a cartoonist for many years, his characters leap off the page.
We often make use of The Colour Thief in sessions with children, to help them engage with the colours around them. As the story unfurls, and Zot progresses from wan to joy, they explore emotions if they were in a black-and-white world themselves. How would you feel if you were holding a bright orange balloon and suddenly, it’s grey?
Tell us what your favourite colour is. Can you imagine a world without it?
Writer at Art1st