Books by Norman Messenger

Released: Oct. 4, 2012

"For young would-be tourists as well as students of nature's more fanciful imaginary reaches, the next best thing to an actual visit. (Picture book. 7-10)"
Free-floating imagination meets artistic expertise in this visual record of the exotic flora, fauna and (more or less) human residents encountered on an unexpected visit to an elusive island. Read full book review >
IMAGINE by Norman Messenger
Released: Nov. 1, 2005

Here Messenger elaborates on the split-page, mix-and-match format of his Making Faces (1993) and Famous Faces (1995) with additional special effects, including fold-over flaps, a paper wheel and extravagantly detailed landscapes with hidden figures or impossible perspectives. For all his theme and technical expertise, though, "imagination" is in rather short supply; the text often falls flat—"Imagine a teapot without a spout . . . You would get very thirsty." "Imagine a face without a mouth . . . A kiss would be such a disappointment"—and many of the visuals rely on distortion rather than illusion or clever misdirection. Readers fond of picking out subtle changes between two ostensibly identical scenes, or creating portmanteau animals with flips of flaps will enjoy this—but not even the running set of visual puzzles tucked into tiny boxes in the corners will engage children past a once-over. (Picture book. 6-9)Read full book review >
ONCE UPON A TIME by Alan Garner
Released: Nov. 1, 1993

One of Britain's finest novelists for young people (The Owl Service, 1967), who's long been interested in folklore (A Bag of Moonshine, 1986), creates three nursery tales distinguished by a folkloric lilt and his own fresh imagery. In the cumulative "The Fox, the Hare, and the Cock," Fox moves into Hare's hut of bark when his own ice hut melts, and is finally driven out by clever Cock after larger, stronger animals have failed. "The Girl and the Geese" concerns a child who saves her little brother from geese who've carried him off, but only after she tastes a "sharp apple," "sour milk," and "sad pies" offered by prospective helpers (a tree, a brook). And the dreamlike adventure of "Battibeth" begins with an errand to her grandmother to trade an egg for a knife; along the way, she loses the egg but finds a needle, which is transformed into a steeple that she climbs for an empowering view (and there's still more in this imaginative, powerfully symbolic sequence). Compact and intriguingly mysterious; handsomely illustrated with precisely detailed images, deployed effectively against dramatic white. (Picture book. 4-8)Read full book review >