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THE RIVER by Alessandro Sanna Kirkus Star


by Alessandro Sanna, illustrated by Alessandro Sanna

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59270-149-0
Publisher: Enchanted Lion Books

An Italian illustrator makes his U.S. debut with an impressionistic record of an annual cycle along the Po River.

In hundreds of long, narrow, quickly brushed watercolor panels stacked horizontally four per page, Sanna follows a four-season round. Nearly all of the paintings are landscape sections with reeds, stands of poplars or small silhouetted figures of local residents in the foregrounds and vivid, changeable skies blending into the misty river behind. Along with depictions of broad natural rhythms, each seasonal chapter contains several mininarratives—wordless, aside from a few allusive remarks at each section’s opening. They range from preparations and responses to a flood in “Autumn” to a sagra (holy day) carnival in “Spring.” In “Summer,” a melodramatic physical encounter between a plein-air painter and an escaped tiger turns metaphorical at the end. Other visual bonbons for attentive viewers to catch include parallel falls of snowflakes in winter and flower petals in spring, the Nativity-like birth of a calf and even glimpses—twice!—of elephants.

Along the lines of Blexbolex’s Seasons (2010), an immersive visual experience that richly rewards patient attention. (afterword) (Picture book. 6-9, adult)