A red-hoodie–sporting, upright-standing bird (or possibly weasel) named Coppernickel (Coppernickel: The Invention, 2008) and his diminutive pet dog follow artist Piet Mondrian though a progression of changes in their setting, time period and bodies.
Quickstep (aka Mondrian), who has a full beak and approximates an upright-standing bird more than Coppernickel does, “is looking for the future.” Coppernickel presumes that “If you just wait, the future will arrive anyway,” but Quickstep disagrees: “[I]f we stand around waiting, nothing will change…. Things will only get older. I’m looking for the new.” Quickstep’s dog can “smell the future” and they’re off. Left-hand trees mimic Mondrian’s early organic naturalism; as Coppernickel (pursuing Quickstep) traverses a horizontal landscape scroll, the trees shift subtly into roadside telegraph poles—or late-Mondrian grid-style trees. Coppernickel reaches a packed, bustling city. Gorgeous tiny rectangles tile the subway as Mondrian’s famous primary colors and grid patterns begin to dominate. Composition varies dynamically; the scene moves from city blocks to Mondrian’s spare 1940s apartment. Music emerges from a turntable in lively primary-colored rectangles, becoming Mondrian’s famous painting Victory Boogie Woogie, and even the four characters end up geometrically stylized.
Surreal but fascinating, visually jazzy but conceptually cryptic, this will work for older readers who like primary colors, geometric art or the philosophical notion of the future. (author’s note) (Picture book/art. 7–10)