Saturday, January 15, 2011

Welcome to the Zoo by Alison Jay

I was first introduced to the books of Alison Jay when I wrote a review of her book 1 2 3 A Child's First Counting Book back in 2007. I became enchanted by her illustration style. Her style is very consistent; always the same stylized figures, transparent colors, and crackled surface. The reason I like them is because you can enjoy them on many levels. A small child could enjoy them because they are simple, but curiously unusual. An older child will start to notice the interesting detail she includs in each spread. There is a dog chasing a mouse, and here is a little girl looking at a bee in a flower. The thing that amazes me about her illustration is that she always (or at least the books I have looked at have this quality) does her pictures as if she were taking photographs as she walked along a path. So in one picture you see, up ahead, some object in the distance. Then in the next, you have arrived at that object, and the previous page is in miniature behind you. Up ahead is a picture of what you will be seeing in the next spread. She must think in three dimensions, always aware of what would be around here if she were standing in one of her illustrations. This Alison Jay book is a wordless book, where a family walks around a zoo. It is a very special zoo, because there are no fences or cages. The animals and people look at each other without fear in perfect harmony. All of her books have a very calm, peaceful feeling. This is a great book for dialogic reading or for a child look at by himself.

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