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VARMINTS by Helen Ward


by Helen Ward & illustrated by Marc Craste

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: March 25th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3796-5
Publisher: Candlewick

Here Ward’s brief lament for the loss of nature’s peace and quiet to rampant urbanization really gets tricked out by elaborate packaging, occasional translucent pages and Craste’s hyper-atmospheric digital art. The soft sounds of bees and birds once “touched and warmed the hearts of those FEW who paused and cared to listen,” but that was before the OTHERS arrived with immense skyscrapers and so much noise that all thought was driven away. Set over futuristic, dimly lit buildings and the scurrying shadows of residents—who are depicted as rabbit-like creatures with shiny black noses and eyes—the spidery lines of silver text are almost impossible to see. The illustrations also expand on the allusive narrative with a baroque plot in which one last pot of meadow flora somehow causes everyone to stop, hear the bees again and construct giant terrariums that are part seedpod, part flying saucer, as enclosed preserves. Craste is an award-winning creator of animated shorts, and is making a film of this book. Perhaps it’ll make more sense on the screen. (Picture book. 7-9, adult)