As in his interpretation of John Coltrane in Giant Steps, Raschka now turns Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf into poetry and pictures. The illustrations present the story as a theatrical performance (action unfolds alternately in freestanding illustrations and on an elaborate stage), but without an orchestra. As Peter cavorts, calmly but boldly opening himself to the climactic encounter with the wolf, Raschka conveys the mounting suspense in lilting words, swerving zigzags and curves. Carefree Peter is supported by an animal chorus in sound poetry, including a blue bird who speaks in stutters and rhyme, and of course the predator, who swallows the duck with a panting, "Gimme, gimme, gimme, gimme... GULP!" Raschka's pictures-of characters venturing close to the wolf's bear-trap jaws, of the cat's enormous face looming over a tiny Peter-gain extra energy from geometrically shaped color blocks on the same spreads; each character is assigned a certain spectrum-e.g., red for the wolf-like the solo instruments in Prokofiev. His book best rewards patient readers capable of linking the continuous dialogue and amped-up visuals in the action spreads with scenes viewed within a complex, 3D cut-paper theater. One reading will not be enough to appreciate the artist's keen attention to detail. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"A distinctive yet traditional interpretation of the story that Prokofiev created to introduce children to the orchestra....[A] handsome edition of this classic story."Booklist.
Without musical notation, how does one convey the thematic phrases and unique rhythms associated with each character created by Sergei Prokofiev in his classic introduction to the instruments of the orchestra? The ever-experimental, sound-sensitive Raschka employs color, shape, line, and idiosyncratic language to distinguish each cast member in his utterly beguiling production. Characters appear one after the other on sequential versos to offer opening monologues. Peter enters on a strip of chartreuse, his large, oval face topped by a Russian cap, his lyrical style inspired by e. e. cummings: "See I/Spin around and twirl around and jump around/In this perfect, most perfect/Place I've been." The bluebird twitters a jazzy scat on a path of cheerful yellow. The menacing wolf-all jagged lines and primal grunts against a field of red-gobbles the oblivious duck, as has been destined. Rectos feature a stage framed in brown columns and constructed from four sheets of painted paper that have been glued together; the resulting shadows produce a convincing depth. The action occurs as the watercolor figures, outlined with Raschka's signature thick strokes, interpret their roles. The three hunters enter in a martial bluster, but ultimately the entire crew proceeds to the zoo. Gentle readers and purists alike will appreciate Raschka's solution to the duck's fate; he allows readers to choose either Prokofiev's finale (so labeled) or his one-page epilogue in which a veterinarian performs "emergency surgery." Make room for this inventive, spirited interpretation. A bravura performance from a musical maestro.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Language chosen for its sound at least as much as for its meaning lends an improvisatory air to this rendition of Prokofiev's musical tale, and theatrical illustrations definitely kick things up an additional notch. Having introduced themselves, the bird and the duck fall into an argument—"And the bird answers back: D-ducky d-dacky d-docky d-deeky. / And the duck answers back: Waieo, waieo, waieo, waieo"—before the cat and the wolf enter, Peter lassos the wolf and the hunters ("We are the men, / We are the men, / We are the men who hunt…") arrive to carry the captive off in triumph. For the art, Raschka alternates stylized pictures of the characters drawn in thick crayon and daubs of color with photos of elaborately decorated, ingeniously designed stage sets constructed from layers of cut and painted paper. He does make changes to the original's cast and plot in order to make the happy ending more explicit, but he's far from the first to do that. Among the plethora of Peters, his stands out for its seamless, jazzy match of verbal and visual exuberance. (Picture book. 6-8)
Meet the Author
Michele Lemieux was born in Quebec in 1955 and has worked as an illustrator of books and magazines in Toronto, Paris, Freiburg (Germany), and Montreal, where she now lives. An artist with a considerable reputation in Europe, her adaptation of Peter and the Wolf and her illustrated version of There Was an Old Man. . . , by Edward Lear, have recently been published by Morrow.
- Date of Birth:
- May 16, 1933
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews