Books by Carll Cneut

WILLY by Geert De Kockere
Released: Aug. 1, 2011

"Readers will be inspired to think of Willy: These aren't defects, they're worthy attributes, capable of delivering something good. (Picture book. 4-8)"
In this fine, low-key parable, Willy the elephant sports all elephant particulars: floppy ears, stout legs, dinky tail, general bigness. Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2011

As everybody knows, piglets are unhinged by the moon, to the light of which they are drawn like really big moths. Johnson's porkers are a case in point, staging a breakout when mom and pop are asleep and the moon at its most intoxicating: "All in a scramble, / all ready to gambol, / ten moonstruck piglets / on a midnight ramble." Gambol and scoot, sure, but also plunder and loot, before heading toward less-populated precincts. Now in the countryside, the piglets dance, squeal and snort (one, however, spends his romp reading a book)—lunatics, in a word. Cneut has drawn superb nightscapes: dark-cobalt skies, black earth, shadows, mystery, a great moony moon, through which the piglets—looking like the porcine equivalents of Shar Pei dogs—frisk and whirl (or read). Then clouds douse the moonlight, an owl swoops, a fox prowls: MAMA! "She wakes with a grunt, / quickly takes to the hunt, / calling her piglets, / tracking each runt." Through skillful wordplay, the musical texture of the quatrains and artwork of delirious witchery, this old chestnut of youngsters cutting loose their inner pagans only to suddenly see the light—MAMA!—feels fresh and amusing. Both the eye and the ear will be entranced. (Picture book. 3-7)Read full book review >
CITY LULLABY by Marilyn Singer
Released: Oct. 15, 2007

Inspired by Brooklyn's cacophonous streetscapes, Singer's cumulative rhyme counts down from ten to one: "Traffic jam, 10 horns beeping, / In the stroller, Baby's sleeping." Indeed, slumber continues throughout a riot of mechanical noise, until a chirping bird tweets Baby awake. Cneut's full-bleed mixed-media paintings dispatch traditional perspective: Orange buildings lean, box-like yellow cabs careen and a multiethnic crowd works and plays, jammed up against the picture plane along with garbage cans, cell phones, pets and signs. Display type featuring sound words ("Grumble," "Rinnnngggg") overlays the wall-to-curb compositions. On the contrastingly serene white space above Singer's text, Baby's disembodied facial features (pale blue lashes, sleepy half-smile) float—until the waking page. There, a stylized, larger-than-life portrait of bright-eyed Baby looms, with text and art swapping sides. Cheerfully over-stimulating—a bit like the city itself. (Picture book/poetry. 3-7)Read full book review >
Released: March 24, 2003

Lonely circus dog Mr. Morf temporarily leaves his tightrope-walking job in this old storyline with unique illustrations. Seeing his fellow circus performers all paired up—as spouses, siblings, or friends—makes Mr. Morf long for a companion. First he meets a flock of birds perched on a high wire, a place he naturally feels comfortable; but alas, they must fly away to "holiday abroad" and cannot be his friends. Next he bends down on the ground and calls into a hole; a mole enthusiastically agrees to emerge and be his friend, but is tragically unable to find his way out. Several other animals are invited to friendship by the mournful protagonist, but none accept. Brokenhearted and back at the circus, Mr. Morf suddenly one day begins to giggle—tickled by the flea who has moved onto his body and who becomes, at long last, the lifelong friend he has yearned for. Quests for friendship are not new, and the text here is sometimes stiff; what makes this unique is the style of illustration. Acrylic paint is mixed with dry pastel and oil pastel to create melancholy pictures with delicate lines and an offbeat flavor. A nice intertextual reference to Little Red Riding Hood lends the story an archetypal feeling, and while not really "astonishing," this is a quiet and tender tale. (Picture book. 3-6)Read full book review >