Books by John Collier

THE BACKYARD by John Collier
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 1, 1993

An artist who's been much honored by his peers at the Society of Illustrators (15 medals) explores a familiar theme: following a suburban yard from the present back through times when ``cowboys sang lonesome songs and died on cold plains'' and ``Braves loved maidens, and great battles with no names raged'' to dinosaurs, mountains rising and falling, and ``hydrogen and darkness and the hand of God.'' But the concept is secondary to Collier's fascination with the composition at which he excels. A tree and the figure posed against it become a single form; light on a ball echoes a crescent moon; dramatic light and muted colors (to say nothing of one wall of a partly built house, poised alone on a concrete slab) have an intriguingly surreal, dreamlike air. Unfortunately, the striking arrangements of images don't further the narrative or the development of the idea, as do Catalanotto's lovely illustrations for George Ella Lyon's similar, but far more appealing, Who Came Down That Road? (1992). Lyon's lyrical text, too, has a sense of mystery and awe that's lacking here. A handsome series of paintings, but not essential. (Picture book. 4-8) Read full book review >
PETROUCHKA by Vivian Werner
FAIRY TALES, FOLKTALES AND MYTHS
Released: Oct. 1, 1992

In the manner of other recent retellings (e.g., Verdy's Of Swans, Sugarplums, and Satin Slippers, 1991), a detailed interpretation of events seen in the dance. Of particular interest here is Werner's introduction, outlining the history of Stravinsky's ballet and linking Petrouchka to Punch and even to Pagliacci. The story itself is gracefully told, but though it hints at the poignant drama of the dance, it remains more a series of scenes described than a tale that comes to life on its own. Collier, an award-winning illustrator who has rarely worked for children, issues a series of beautifully composed paintings; his characters' stances and expressions skillfully capture the feeling conveyed by the dance, while his haunting jacket portrait of the tragic puppet clown is lovely. Worthwhile, especially where there is interest in theater and dance. (Picture book. 7+) Read full book review >
THE SLEEP OF STONE by Louise Cooper
FANTASY
Released: Dec. 5, 1991

Shape-changer Ghysla—last of the ancient ones, born Ghryszmyxychtys but now known as Ghysla—is sure that Prince Anyr loves her as deeply as she loves him, even though she has shown herself to him only in the guise of animals like a playful seal or a loving deer; she can't believe he loves his beautiful bride- to-be, Sivorne. Ghysla plans to steal Sivorne away, substitute herself, then reveal all, imagining that the result will be great joy. Even Anyr's loving concern when Sivorne awakens screaming about an ugly dark gremlin (actually Ghysla in her true shape) fails to shake Ghysla's obsession. On the wedding day, after Ghysla has turned Sivorne to stone and taken her form, she is discovered. Anyr is devastated, Ghysla both sullen and manic. The recluse wizard Mornan (Myrrzynohoenhaxn, half-human, half of Ghysla's race) tells Ghysla that only she can release Sivorne: she must take Sivorne's place in the rock in order to bring peace to the frantic Anyr. Ghysla does so; and long after, moved by her plight, Mornan in turn releases her by taking her place. Cooper brings to this entry in the ``Dragonflight'' series the strong sense of mystery and the vivid imaginary world that make her adult fantasy so effective. A beautifully wrought, deceptively simple tale that has the texture of legend; special appeal for the thoughtful reader. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >