The Island


Marije and Ronald Tolman conquered the world with their fairy-tale like pictures of The Tree House. The golden father-daughter team that won important awards for The Tree House again create a world without words of its own, with a polar bear’s dreamy road trip along awe-inspiring islands and colorful animal friends.

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Marije and Ronald Tolman conquered the world with their fairy-tale like pictures of The Tree House. The golden father-daughter team that won important awards for The Tree House again create a world without words of its own, with a polar bear’s dreamy road trip along awe-inspiring islands and colorful animal friends.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
I'm not even sure I know what the book is about—and I really don't care. Like a young girl I saw recently in a bookstore, I just run my hands over each page and say, "This is so beautiful"…Each reader will have a different version of what occurs, but the pictures and the bear's journey beg to be returned to again and again. For anyone who wants to develop visual acuity in children, The Island provides a springboard for conversation, reminding all ages of the wonder and magnificence of the natural world. And it demonstrates that we don't always need words to support an amazing visual experience.
—Anita Silvey
Publishers Weekly
This ethereal sequel to the Tolmans’ remarkable debut, The Tree House (2010), stars the same genial polar bear in a similar series of wordless spreads. This time, the bear explores a series of islands in a vast, blue ocean. Some are natural outcroppings dotted with palms, while others are scribbly wooden structures that rise out of the water like abandoned fishing platforms. One is inhabited by hundreds of puffins. Another is topped by a kind of waterwheel, which the bear boards happily along with a sloth and some squirrels. The friendly storks, armadillo, and other creatures that accompany the polar bear are closely drawn in saturated colors, while the lonely expanses of sky and water are rendered with pale tints. On one island, the polar bear comes across a raccoon playing the violin. The bear stands enchanted, listening, a furry paw over its heart. The final spread shows the two cuddled up on the shore of a new island, gazing at the stars. It’s the freest, most joyful kind of exercise of the imagination, one that holds delight for every viewer. Ages 3–up. (Nov.)
From the Publisher

“Readers of all ages will want to return to this treasure box of images again and again.” --Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

Outstanding International Best Book of the Year, The United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY)

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
This mystical tale begins on the cover, where the only words in the book appear as the title and authors. A polar bear sits pensively on an odd structure apparently made of tree branches, set off shore from a sparsely forested beach. Inside the book, he climbs a ladder up into a windswept white cloud that takes him onto a sandy landscape populated by hundreds of identical sea birds. Next on the double pages comes a swim in a fishy sea joined by a few exotic animals; then a ride on a rhinoceros's back past several islands, one of which looks like the wooden structure on the cover, now supporting a raccoon playing a violin. The colors used range from pale to bright; the sky turns deep red from a misty tinted yellow first introduced on the front end pages. On the last double page we find the bear, hugged by the raccoon, sitting on the shore of a small bright red island under a starry sky, looking quietly up at a distant falling star. The animals are drawn with a fine black line and, although small, are naturalistically detailed. We are back in the pale yellow mist on the back end pages, pondering the meaning of the story. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 5—In this oversize, wordless picture book, a polar bear journeys to many islands, some natural-looking and some sticklike structures that seem to have been made with crayon scribblings. On his travels, he encounters a variety of birds, fish, and mammals, none of whom are in what one would consider their normal habitats. This adds to the charm of the story, allowing readers to determine for themselves what is happening here. The pale, luminous washes provide plenty of blank space, focusing attention on the small, jewel-toned creatures. Young children will enjoy poring over the art to discover the many wonders in it, making up their own stories as they go along. Art teachers will want to introduce the book to older students for discussions of technique and storytelling.—Sharon Grover, Hedberg Public Library, Janesville, WI
Kirkus Reviews
The Tolmans (The Tree House, 2010) take readers on another wordless adventure as their polar bear protagonist journeys to a place of wonderment and peace. A polar bear descends from a cloud to observe a puffin colony. Far in the distance is a sun-shaped structure to which he swims; first, through a stunning reinterpretation of Hokusai's The Wave, then through gentle waters, in whose depths dolphins play. At each destination, another calls in the distance, beckoning the genial bear forth. Lush, little islands, tropical trees and the lyrical silhouettes of roughly hewn structures invite exploration and new encounters. These whimsical, mixed-media illustrations fill the senses with gorgeous moments of joy and quietude. Together, this father-and-daughter team uses a complex visual vocabulary to create a deep visual narrative. Skill has been applied to the paintings, with their wide swaths of color, reminiscent of a Rothko color-field, and loose, deliberate drawings. But much like Rothko's work, this tale's ability to reach viewers is extremely subjective. Some may think it pleasant but simplistic, while others may project deep meaning onto it. Either way, the bear takes his journey, never knowing where it will lead or how the dots will connect. But readers will be left with a feeling of dreamy serenity, as the bear and his newfound soul mate gaze into an infinite starry sky, their island aglow in a sea of darkness. Elegantly understated. (Picture book. 3 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781935954194
  • Publisher: Lemniscaat USA
  • Publication date: 9/1/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 827,291
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 13.10 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

MARIJE TOLMAN (1976) graduated in Graphic and Typographic Design at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. She studied Illustration and design at the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. Now she lives and works in The Hague as a fulltime children’s book illustrator. The daughter of an artist, Marije has an inbred eye for color, beauty, and subtlety. She knows how to paint the delicate detail without losing the overall perspective.
RONALD TOLMAN (1948) is a sculptor, painter and graphic artist. Ronald Tolman plays with ancient topics and current developments.His sculptures and the visualizations in his paintings, etchings, drawings and ceramics move between wistful perceptions and sparkling impulsiveness.

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