A man and his canine emerge from a painting and race through some of their creator’s canvases before “returning home.”
In this wordless picture book imported from Belgium, children can follow the titular characters, two figures from Hunters in the Snow by Flemish Renaissance artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder. On each two-page spread, the illustrator playfully reinterprets Bruegel’s works by combining details from one or more paintings, creatively introducing youngsters to the artist’s oeuvre. Additionally, kids are challenged, Where’s Waldo?–style, to locate man and animal with every page turn. Pursuing a bird, the pair kick things off by escaping their picture through a large tear, reentering it after numerous adventures. There’s some fun to be had here, though kids are less likely to appreciate Bruegel than they are merely to seek hunter and dog and the ways they slip from one canvas into another. Missteps: Because illustrations include combined elements from various works, spreads aren’t labeled. Therefore, it’s difficult to name the paintings man and dog enter and exit. Specific artworks are identified via small details from the originals (alongside titles, dates, and owning museums) in the backmatter and are occasionally hard to discern. Those curious about which paintings man and animal visit must flip between spreads and “answers” in the back. The informative author’s note targets older readers.
It’s clever—but it won’t win Bruegel new fans or encourage repeat visits. (bibliography) (Picture book. 5-8)