Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Review: One of David Wiesner's non-Caldecott books

David Wiesner is one of those author/illustrators who, after you discover one of his books, will cause you to run to the nearest library to check out everything he's ever done.  His recent picture book, Art and Max (Clarion Books, 2010) is just as inventive and visually stunning as his three Caldecott-winning books (Flotsam, The Three Pigs, and Tuesday), and his two Caldecott-honor books (Sector 7 and Free Fall).

But this review is not about those books.  It's about June 29, 1999 (Clarion Books, 1992), one of his older stories, which contains many of his signature touches:  surreal floating items in otherwise realistic settings, clever and beautiful visuals, exquisitely rendered detail, and a delightfully whimsical story.  In June 29, 1999, a girl sends vegetable seedlings into the upper atmosphere as a science project.  Soon giant vegetables fall to earth ("Cucumbers circle Kalamazoo. Lima beans loom over Levittown."), each page crazier and funnier than the last.  The twist at the end is that these are not her vegetables, somehow transformed in space, but instead are the accidental kitchen scrapings of a clumsy alien cephalopod.

The real reason I love it, though, is my 6 and a half year old's reaction to it.  She read it to herself as I was driving and giggled her way through the story.  Her review:  "I loved it!  The vegetables had such great adventures!"

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