A boy amasses a collection of assorted objects and uses them to make art.
As a child, Joey has keen, eclectic preferences for his collection of items. A cork ball, a soap-bubble pipe, a rusty iron safe, a feather that falls fresh off a bird—Joey saves everything “that spark[s] his imagination or delight[s] his eye.” Asked what his plans for his oddments are, he’s unbothered: “Who knows?” After a while, he knows: “sifting, layering, mixing” the objects creates sculpture. His family finds his pieces “heavenly” and “magical”—and so do many other people after Joey grows up to become a professional artist using the same media, though the adult career and work of Joseph Cornell are oddly unmentioned except in the author’s note. Fleming does a bang-up job explaining Joey’s imaginative combination of objects to evoke emotion. DuBois’ acrylic illustrations are a mixed bag: magnificent composition, and the value extremes on a few spreads are dramatically gorgeous; however, figures are stiff, more like frozen white mannequins than humans—Joey often looks like a doll—and Joey’s sculptures appear quaint but murky and nondeliberate (the opposite of Cornell’s real pieces). Three reproductions of Cornell’s work are fruitlessly tiny. Alison Baverstock’s Joseph Cornell: Secrets in Box (2003), now sadly out-of-print, is the superior treatment.
Conceptually intriguing but insufficiently visually connected to Cornell’s aesthetic. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 5-8)