Voices in the Park

( 7 )

Overview

I called his name...I settled on a bench...I was amazed...I felt really, really happy...Four people enter a park, and through their eyes we see four different visions. There's the bossy woman, the sad man, the lonely boy and the young girl whose warmth touches those she meets. As the story moves from one voice to another, their perspectives are reflected in the shifting landscape and seasons. This is an intriguing, many-layered, enormously entertaining book that demands to be ...
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Overview

I called his name...I settled on a bench...I was amazed...I felt really, really happy...Four people enter a park, and through their eyes we see four different visions. There's the bossy woman, the sad man, the lonely boy and the young girl whose warmth touches those she meets. As the story moves from one voice to another, their perspectives are reflected in the shifting landscape and seasons. This is an intriguing, many-layered, enormously entertaining book that demands to be read again and again.

Author Biography: Anthony Browne has written and illustrated more than twenty books for children. He was won the prestigious Kate Greenaway Medal, and he has also received the Kurt Maschler Award. Anthony Browne's previous books include Gorilla, Zoo, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Changes, and King Kong, plus the enormously popular Willy books. He lives in England with his wife and two children.

Lives briefly intertwine when two youngsters meet in the park.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Browne again proves himself an artist of inventive voice and vision as he creates perhaps his most psychologically complex work to date via a commonplace experiencea brief sojourn to a city park. The author of King Kong and the Willy stories again features anthropomorphic chimps, who provide four unique perspectives: an uppity, overbearing mother and her glum son, Charles; and an unemployed fellow and his cheerful daughter, Smudge. What transpires factually is simple: the two children play together, their dogs do the same, the adults keep to themselves. Yet Browne reinvents and overlays the scene as each parent and child in turn describes their version of the events, altering light, colors and words. Browne sets up the tension by starting off with Charles's stylishly dressed mother, who lets her "pedigree Labrador," Victoria, off the leash and then scoffs at "some scruffy mongrel"(Smudge's dog). The matriarch similarly describes Charles's newfound friend as "a very rough-looking child." Through Charles's eyes, readers watch the tops of lampposts, gray clouds and a leafless tree take on the shape of his mother's large chapeau, as her hat-dominated figure casts a shadow over the boy. In the succeeding page, Browne cleverly frames a shift in Charles's mood with an illustration divided by a lamppost: threatening clouds and bare trees give way to blue skies and blossoming branches when a smiling, pigtailed (anything but rough-looking) Smudge on the sunny side of the park bench invites Charles to play on the slide. Browne offers readers much to pore over. His images reflect the human psyche; some are eerie (Edvard Munch's "The Scream" appears in the want ads; a burning tree provides the backdrop for mother and son's silent exit from the park), others uplifting. For example, the subjects of two portraits leaning on the park wall, a gloomy Rembrandt self-portrait and a weeping Mona Lisa, transform into a dancing couple under a street lamp fashioned from a flower, as the jobless man departs the park, cheered by his daughter. Although some discomfiting tonesin both pictures and text appear in the vignettes, Browne also celebrates the redeeming power of connecting with another human being. His creativity invites youngsters to tap into their own, as they look for clues between the trees and add their own spins to Browne's four interconnected tales. Ages 7-11. (Sept.) (PW best book of 1998)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Browne offers what appears on the surface to be a simple story about a visit to a park. What makes this book so different and compelling is seeing and hearing about the simple event from four very different perspectives. A proud and well off woman and her son Charles take a walk. She resents the attentions of an apparent mongrel and becomes worried when her son disappears from view. He, however, has met a young girl named Smudge, and they are having a great time playing and watching their dogs enjoy themselves. We also see the park visit through the eyes of the girl's father, who is down and out and desperately trying to find work. Smudge first thought Charlie was a bit of a wimp, but they have a great time playing and he gives her a flower. In the last scene, Charlie wistfully looks at the park and hopes that he may someday meet up again with Smudge who, for a short while, brought some real joy into his life. The art is intregral to the story and the viewpoints. When we meet Smudge's father, the scenes are dark and gloomy, more like winter; and for Charles' mother, the setting is autumn. When Charlie tells his story, winter becomes spring and his mother's presence (shown in the opening scene as a hat) begins to diminish, and for Smudge, it is summer when the park is a bright and happy place. The type font also changes for each voice. Details like these make each rereading a rich experience.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 5-A mother takes her son and their dog to the park, where she thinks about dinner and turns up her nose at the "frightful types." Meanwhile, an unemployed father sits on the same bench and searches the want ads while admiring his daughter's chatter and their dog's energy. The two kids, of course, find one another. In four short first-person narratives, each of the characters recounts the same outing from a different perspective and at a different emotional level. The mother is annoyed. The father is melancholy. The boy is bored and lonely, then hopeful. The girl is independent and outgoing, yet observant. The real "voices," however, are not found in the quiet, straightforward text, but in Browne's vibrant, super-realistic paintings in which trees are oddly shaped, footsteps turn to flower petals, Santa Claus begs for change, and people happen to be primates. Some of the illustrations appear in smaller squares while others are full bleeds so that even the margins become part of the narrative. Browne's fans should find this even more satisfying than Willy the Dreamer Candlewick, 1998. Because readers will want to compare pages did that building turn into a castle? and tarry over every detail, this book is best suited to independent reading. Even prereaders will be intrigued by the way a simple visit to the park can literally be "seen" in so many different ways.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews
Browne's exceptional out-of-time storyþabout a visit to the neighborhood park by his familiar gorillasþis told from four perspectives. The first voice is that of a prim, supercilious mother, who has taken her son and pedigreed dog to the park for some air. She sees danger lurking in her charges' dealings with the great unwashed: her dog with a mongrel, her son with a ragamuffin. The second voice is careworn, but ultimately cheered by the visit; a jobless father takes his mutt and his daughter to the park for a break from his worries. Voice three is the first lady's sonþhesitant and hemmed inþwho finds a moment of liberation when playing with the jobless father's daughter. And lastly is that of the girl herself, a happy-go-lucky fixer-upper for all those who step into her radiance. This quartet of interpolating impressions has a cinematic quality, where real objects and their shadows often take separate paths. Browne's artwork is deft and kaleidoscopic, with sidelong imagery and a nod to Ren‚ Magritte that heighten the surreal aspects of the story. (Picture book. 5-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789481917
  • Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/30/2001
  • Edition description: 1 AMER ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 62,724
  • Age range: 7 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.88 (w) x 11.65 (h) x 0.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Anthony Browne is the acclaimed author and illustrator of Gorilla (winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal) The Night Shimmy and Zoo (winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal.) The Shape Game was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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