THE WONDER THING by Libby Hathorn


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Vibrant illustrations with the look of linoleum block prints carry readers on an absorbing journey across longitudes and latitudes. Each scene is accompanied by an elliptic caption, beginning with a long series of adverbial phrases (""High above the peaks/On the wild mountaintop/Deep underground/In the swirling mist"") culminating in five bullet-like metaphors and almost resolved in a rhymed couplet. Hathorn (Way Home, 1994, etc.) strings her text through the art like a barely visible thread in the form of an extended, poetic riddle whose answer is ""water."" It's rather enigmatic at first, but successive readings prove it to be a suspenseful counterpart to the pictures. The central element in Gouldthorpe's pictures--not always the most obvious one--is water, depicted in all its different forms in a great variety of settings, from sprawling scenes of oceans and mountains to lyrical miniatures of vehicles and plants. These prints have a wet-paint freshness that seems to evoke smells and sounds, as well as sights.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1996
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin