WHEN COMES WHAT DARKLY THIEVES by Ben Rubin

WHEN COMES WHAT DARKLY THIEVES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A dark, dreamy tale illustrated with rich, textured collages.

Told in the second person, this fictional picture book uses surreal imagery and poetic language to weave an unusual story of subconscious desires and wishes. “Imagine this, you have always been afraid of gypsies, and for good reasons too,” the story begins, explaining that gypsies carry children away in sacks and take them away from their homes and loved ones. As the story unfolds, Zinganas, the blind king of gypsies, shows up at your door and finds you despite your pitiful attempts to hide. The king tricks you with the false promise of “what you wanted most,” then disappears in the night with the moonbeams from your eyes, leaving you alone to find your way back to them. The book is illustrated with multicolored collages, assembled from pieces of photographs, colors and images that often appear as though they were cut from tissue or textured paper. The illustrations, which vaguely resemble Cubist paintings in their blocklike forms, are easily the book’s most striking feature. An image of Zinganas depicts two crowned figures constructed from fragments of photographed faces, jagged edges and textured blocks of color. Above the scenario hovers a single, closed eye, referencing Zinganas’ blindness, or perhaps the subconscious fears he evokes. In contrast, images depicting the main character appear ambiguous, either showing a blank, simplistic face or avoiding showing it entirely, as such illustrations stand in for any reader who encounters the book. The fragmented images work well with the strange narrative and add an eerie, nightmarish element to the story. The book closes with a gorgeously textured image of children swinging across a crimson background, ending on a mysterious note that will leave readers wondering what happens next.

An unusual, artfully rendered story that will appeal to children as well as adults.

Pub Date: Dec. 7th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0983826705
Page count: 19pp
Publisher: Button-down Bird
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2011




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