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The Seven Chairs
     

The Seven Chairs

by Helen Lanteigne, Maryann Kovalski (Illustrator)
 
In his lifetime he made seven chairs. The first chair, made when he was a boy, was a small three-legged stool. It wobbled.

The Seven Chairs introduces us to the chairs one man makes in the course of his life: a simple three-legged stool, a chair with a heart carved in the back, a chair for his child's doll.... Although each chair starts in the same place, each has a

Overview

In his lifetime he made seven chairs. The first chair, made when he was a boy, was a small three-legged stool. It wobbled.

The Seven Chairs introduces us to the chairs one man makes in the course of his life: a simple three-legged stool, a chair with a heart carved in the back, a chair for his child's doll.... Although each chair starts in the same place, each has a different destiny and an ever more colorful story to tell. From Europe to America, from Cezanne's studio to Notre Dame to Maybelie Jenkins's Beauty and Tea Parlor, this is rollicking good fun. Who would have imagined the adventures a chair can have? Inspired by Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, Helen Lanteigne and Maryann Kovalski have created a warm and colorful book that will be treasured for many lifetimes. Just like chairs.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First-time author Lanteigne and Kovalski (Brenda and Edward) piece together the circuitous destinations of one craftsman's handiwork, and subsequently reveal glimmers of the carpenter's own background. Mirroring the stages of the craftsman's life, the first chair, for example, was actually a stool that wobbled, made when he was a boy; the second chair, created when he was a young man in love, has a heart carved into the back; and, bringing the cycle full circle, the last chair, carved when he was an old man, was also an unsturdy three-legged stool. The irony of the artist's loss of control once his creation leaves his hands is best exemplified by the sixth chair: "his masterpiece"--made for a wealthy patron who intends to give it to a rajah--winds up in America, a few rungs down the social ladder, as a doorstop at Miss Maybelle Jenkins's Beauty and Tea Parlor. The warm tones of Kovalski's gouache illustrations are humorous and inviting, and the characters' faces are full of emotion and drama. Although Lanteigne's focus on a familiar object may lead children to a reverence for the things they use every day, the author never addresses the most interesting implications of her premise, such as who this craftsman was and how his creations, like those of other artists, took on lives of their own. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-One of The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (Houghton, 1984) revolves around seven chairs, one of which ends up in Notre Dame Cathedral as the magical vehicle for a flying (or at least floating) nun. Lanteigne does a creditable job of extrapolating from Chris Van Allsburg's surrealistic excerpt by emulating his spare prose and creating her own tongue-in-cheek tangents. With only a few sentences each, she describes the seven seats made by a poor craftsman during his lifetime and the fate of each piece of furniture. Some chairs are eventually broken, lost, or auctioned while others take on mystical properties (one helps save the lives of 15 sailors who are swept overboard) or descend to duty as a door prop. Lanteigne's oddly wistful tale would be a challenging proposition for any artist. Unfortunately, Kovalski seems a little at sea here. While her gouache paintings have their own charm and playfulness, they seem at odds with the text. One scene, a two-page spread of the carpenter's daughter tumbling down a hillside, miniature chair abandoned Hitty-like to the field, conveys just the right amount of blithe indifference ("Softly and slowly, it became part of the world around it"). But overall, her style is too cartoonish to do justice to Lanteigne's inscrutable allegory.-John Sigwald, Unger Memorial Library, Plainview, TX
Kirkus Reviews
Ostensibly paying homage to the illustration "The Seven Chairs" from Chris Van Allsburg's The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (1984), Lanteigne explores the destiny of the seven chairs a man created during his life. Lanteigne's chairs act as an analogy for the man's growth and development. Cyclical in nature, the book begins and ends with two crooked three-legged stools: one made in the early years of the man's life and one created in old age, both becoming the property of a calico cat. In the ensuing years the man produces a chair with a heart carved into it to express his love, as well as a child-sized one for his daughter. The destination of his fifth chair is Paris, though Van Allsburg wasn't so specific ("The fifth one ended up in France"). There is humor to be found in the destinies of the various chairs, e.g., his masterpiece ends up as "the prop that held open the screen door of Miss Maybelle Jenkins's Beauty and Tea Parlor." Kovalski creates heavily pigmented pictures with lush images that lend an appropriate other-era, other-worldly feeling to the journeys of the chairs. A great book to inspire children to ponder the "lives" of the objects around them. (Picture book. 4-7)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780531301104
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
09/01/1998
Edition description:
1 AMER ED
Pages:
32
Product dimensions:
8.32(w) x 10.34(h) x 0.39(d)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

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