With echoes of Lear and Stevenson, this journey into the land of dreams pairs a detailed Old World setting with a pulsing four-beat rhythm to pull readers into its magical realm.
Bileck, illustrator of Julian Scheer’s Rain Makes Applesauce (1964), originally created these graphite-and–colored-pencil drawings for a children’s manuscript by Virginia Woolf. When her estate canceled the project, Bryan collaborated on a new text with his longtime friend. Masterful wordplay, alliteration, imagery, and rhyme contribute to this 29-stanza poem, printed in its entirety at the opening and then woven throughout the densely populated pages in a hand-printed text. Thimbledon Bridge “is a merry mile long. / No one can cross who is cross. / It boasts a moon quite enormously blown / By bubble-man, bassoonist, Peat Moss.” Spools, needles, and thimbles weave the emerging tapestry, both out of and “into the blue.” Pinwheels and performers, giraffes and camels, turrets and greenery unfold in a fantastical, surreal parade. The images are alternately richly saturated with color or rendered with such a pale line as to be slipping from sight. The seamstress/narrator appears at the beginning and conclusion as a benevolent figure, relaxing in a rocker. Inside she becomes the wild Wind-Witch, hoary and zombielike, in compositions as disturbing as the rest are delightful.
Bileck and Bryan capture the stuff of dreams in this mesmerizing and multifaceted pageant. (contributors’ notes) (Picture book. 5-9)