Archive for July, 2010

“A Wrinkle In Time” Chapter 6; The Happy Medium

Book: A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’ Engle

Posted by Jeremy Sorese

Another month, another deadline I missed. Thanks to everyone for being patient with me and apologies to Kali for sharing her posting day!

CHAPTER 6; The Happy Medium

Last month, we took a detour to visit the Happy Medium, a flighty air headed fortune teller living in a cave on a grey misty planet. Using her crystal ball, she showed our three heros the Darkness enveloping their beloved home planet Earth.

But there is hope in defeating this amorphous toxic black cloud. The Happy Medium shows our three heros how the Darkness is no match for a star. Everyone watches as a ball of burning gases rips the black cloud in two, dissolving it in the blackness of space. Comes to find out that Mrs. Whatsit, the quirky oddly dressed woman we met way back in Chapter 1 was once a star who sacrificed herself celestial body to thwart a portion of the darkness.

After a quick look at the Murry household using the crystal ball (and seeing a depressed and lonely Mrs. Murry falling asleep  writing another letter to her missing husband) our crew depart from the Happy Medium and tesser to their next destination, Camazotz. At first glance, Camazotz is as ordinary as ordinary can get. Very Earth-like, even a little autumnal with some red leafed trees on the hill they tesser to. The three Witches are wary though and tell our heros that they cannot follow them any further. To aid them in finding Mr. Murry, the Witches gift the kids with small tokens such as advice and poems. Meg is even gifted “her own faults” which she is not happy about. Also, Mrs. Who gifts Meg her glasses, the oversized owl-like spectacles and Mrs. Who warns her to save them until absolutely necessary. And with that, they disappear.

At the bottom of the hill are the outskirts of Camazotz, a sprawling suburban neighborhood. The kids venture down off the hill and make their way into the city…

The trio take the ball to the front door of the home, knock and wait for a reply. Slowly the door opens just enough for the woman to peer through, her son barely visible in the darkness behind her. The doors of every home on the block slowly crack open for the nosy neighbors to listen in to the only noise audible for miles. The woman gets immediately defensive, claiming they haven’t had an “aberration” on their block for nearly three years and their paperwork is all in order and clearly her son could not have dropped that ball. The boy grabs his ball out of Charles Wallace’s hand and the door slams on their three faces.

The trio continue walking and slowly the square suburban homes change into cramped apartment buildings. Our trio of heros walk a long time before they see another soul on the street but the quiet is eventually broken by the sounds of a bicycle coming their way. On it is a boy no older than Calvin delivering newspapers, throwing paper after paper onto porch after porch in the same perfect arc. He gets defensive at the three out-of-towners because only the paper boys are authorized to be on the street at this time of night and clearly they should know that and doesn’t believe them when they tell him they haven’t had their papers processed yet. It doesn’t make sense to him that there would be any problem with paperwork because they are in the most efficient town on the whole planet.

The paper boy starts to get nervous around the foreigners, asking a lot of questions quickly about who they are and where they are from. Charles Wallace smartly asks if he is allowed to ask questions like that and the paperboy speeds off on his bike, embarrassed by his transgression.

Past the apartment buildings are skyscrapers in a more industrialized area, filled with adults in suits scurrying about ignoring the three children aimlessly wandering through the streets. They come across the largest building any of them had ever seen, as tall as the Empire State Building and nearly that wide. That must be the CENTRAL Central Intelligence and the three gawk in front of it as business men quickly enter and exit through a row of ominous doors. They decide they need to go in, Calvin has a compulsion about it, and nervously the three make their way to the entrance.

Thanks again for reading all of that (for those that read all of that)!


July 30, 2010 at 10:14 am 3 comments

Short Reports: Gaia Bordicchia vs. Pinocchio.

Phil will be a little behind on his piece today, but don’t fret because that means August is going to be hit with a double dose of awesomeness! So let’s check in with another Short Report. This one comes from Italy, a different version of a well loved story I bet you’ll still recognize…

The Adventures of Pinocchio – C.Collodi

“I will explain it to you directly,” said the Fox. “You must know that in the land of the Owls there is a sacred field, which they all call the Field of Miracles. In this field you dig a little hole and you put, let us say, one gold coin into it. Then you cover up the hole with a little earth: you water it with two pails of fountain water, sprinkle it with one pinch of salt, and when night comes you go quietly to bed. In the meanwhile, during the night, the sovereign will germinate and flower, and in the morning, when you get up and return to the field, what do you find? You find a beautiful tree laden with as many gold pieces as a fine ear of wheat has grains in the month of June.”

When Pinocchio leaves the Marionettes Theater, Master Mangiafoco (Fire-Eater) gives him five gold pieces for his father Geppetto and tells him to go home. Instead, Pinocchio follows the Fox and the Cat to the city of Catchfools, hoping to turn his money into a bigger fortune. On the way they stop at the Red Crayfish Inn, where the Fox and the Cat eat at Pinocchio’s expense. They eventually disappear during the night, leaving Pinocchio to continue his journey alone. The following day, as he passes through a forest to reach Catchfools, the Fox and the Cat, disguised as bandits, try to rob him.

I was born and raised in Italy and Pinocchio was one of the very first books I ever received as a child and I remember not liking it at all. The original book is very different from the disney “child friendly” version that is commonly known. It’s a very dark story, dealing not only with life’s hard realities (like many Brothers Grimm tales) but also full of allegories commenting on the social structure of the time (respectability versus unconventionality – hard work and education as means to escape from the poverty and harshness of working class life). As a child, I could not understand or appreciate the complexity, I experienced only an unbearable sense of sadness whilst reading the story.
Even back then, the Fox and the Cat were the only characters in the book that appealed to me. They are true villains and maybe for this reason, easy to understand.

Gaia Bordicchia is a children’s book illustrator living and working in Italy.
See more of her lovely portfolio here!

July 29, 2010 at 10:45 am 3 comments

Short Reports: Jared Andrew Schorr vs. The BFG

Hello! It’s your friendly ringleader Meg here; in lieu of our regularly scheduled post from Laura (she’s taking a little break) we’re starting up Short Reports– single illustrations from favorite books from fans and fellow illustrators. Keep your eyes peeled next week, as I will be trying to post a new one daily to add to the art goodness.  We’re kicking it off with a great little cut paper piece from Jared Andrew Schorr. Take it away, Jared!

The BFG, like many of Roald Dahl books, really hit me when I first read it. It has everything: orphans, kidnapping, cannibalism, racism, breaking and entering, the invasion of dreams/reality, accosting a member of the royal family, murder and most of all, the open appreciation of flatulence. What 11 year old doesn’t want to read that? Even with all of these extremely dark themes, Dahl is able to create an easily accessible, childlike world.

(click to enlarge)

Since I’m only doing the one report for the book, I chose to illustrate the little girl Sophie and The BFG in his native environment.

“The ground was flat and pale yellow. Great lumps of blue rock were scattered around… lying against the side of the mountain, Sophie could see a massive round stone. It was as big as a house. The giant reached out and rolled the stone to one side as easily as if it had been a football.”

It sounds like some alien place but Dahl makes it very easy to visualize. I thought Quentin Blake, who illustrated most of Dahl’s work, always beautifully translated Dahl’s stories. The BFG is no exception.

I love the story just as much now as I did when I first read it seventeen years ago. It’s a frightening, wonderful, adventurous, gross, heartwarming story. I can only hope to one day create something so deep yet so simple and beautiful.

I’m Jared Andrew Schorr. I live in Montclair, CA. I studied at Art Center College of Design. I cut paper.

July 28, 2010 at 11:35 am 4 comments

Scolding the hound again, she knelt down and arranged the flowers on the grave.

Posted by: Israel Sanchez

Book: Where The Red Fern Grows

The hound ran up to the graveyard and started sniffing and bawling.  Mrs. Pritchard followed him.  Seeing the flower’s on Rubin’s grave, she picked them up and looked at them.  She scolded the hound, and then looked up at the hillside.  I knew she couldn’t see me because the timber was too thick, but I felt uncomfortable anyway.”

In the previous scene where Billy has a confrontation with the Pritchards, Rubin Pritchard jumps on Billy and is about to beat him up.  He stops when Old Dan and Little Ann get into a fight with the Pritchard’s dog.  Ann quickly has the hound’s throat in her jaws while Dan slashes at his belly.  Rubin picks up Billy’s ax and runs to save his dog, but before he can get there he trips and falls over a stick, the ax blade buries into his stomach and Rubin bleeds to death.

I chose to skip this gruesome scene and illustrate the passage right after where Billy visits Rubin’s grave to pay his respects.  His trip to the Pritchard graveyard is cut short when Old Dan makes noise knocking a rock loose and  Rubin’s mom comes out to investigate.  These two powerful scenes show another side of the Pritchard family and also foreshadow future events in the story.

July 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm 10 comments

Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Posted by: PMurphy
Book: One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (purchase on Amazon)

click image to enlarge:

“What’s he got wrong with him?”

The image above depicts an incident that takes place shortly after Cheswick’s suicide.  An epileptic patient, Sefelt, has a seizure while in line for lunch.  As the orderlies assist him, Nurse Ratched stands close by with her arms crossed. Chief Bromden describes, “Her face is smiling, pitying, patient, and disgusted all at once – a trained expression”.

When McMurphy asks what’s wrong, Nurse Ratched begins to tell him that this is what happens if patients don’t follow medical advice.  Fully implying that McMurphy’s behavior has negatively influenced the patients on the ward.

With McMurphy in line is Fredrickson, another epileptic patient.  Sefelt has been giving Fredrickson his medication.  He is tired of the side effects of the Dilantin and will risk an attack.   Fredrickson is just the opposite.

As the attack subsides, the taped stick used to prevent Sefelt from grinding his teeth is pulled out of his mouth and a couple of his teeth go with it.  McMurphy is perplexed by why someone would give up their medication and risk an attack like this.  Then Fredrickson shows McMurphy his rotting gums ( a side-effect of the medicine ) and says, “Hell of a life. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

July 23, 2010 at 7:25 am 1 comment

“The Giver,” Chapters 4 and 5

Book: The Giver, by Lois Lowry

Illustrated by: Lucy Knisley

Chapter 4:

This scene from the fourth chapter is a weird one. Jonas is fulfilling his last few volunteer hours as “an eleven,” so he rides his bike to the “House of the Old,” to join his friends in caring for the elderly of the community. There, he bathes a woman who tells him glowingly about a “release” that took place earlier, when an man at the house of the old was “released” from the community.

There’s a lot of talk of physicality in this scene. It’s explained that within the community, seeing anyone naked is forbidden (excluding the elderly and the very young). Much time is spent describing the steamy room and the woman’s frail skin and Jonas’ friend, Fiona, who, nearby, is washing an elderly man.

It’s always been a really eerily visual scene to me. The strange sexuality of this moment points out how the rest of life within the community is decidedly un-sexual. Reproduction is handled through designated birthmothers who are (one assumes) artificially inseminated. Even “mothers” and “fathers” are assigned to one another, and seem to behave like just good pals.

Man, this is such a great, creepy book.

Chapter 5:

In this chapter, Jonas and his family gather around the breakfast table to discuss their dreams from the previous night. Jonas shares a confusing, uncomfortable dream, in which he is trying to bathe his friend Fiona as he did for the elderly woman in the previous chapter. In the dream, Fiona laughingly refuses, which makes Jonas “angry.” His mother explains that the dream is his first “stirring,” which indicates that he has reached the time when he should begin to take the daily pills that are taken by all adults in the community.

Another creepy one. The dream is actually less sexual than the bathing scene from the former chapter, but it’s strange that Jonas is consumed with a kind of anger in his dream. This frustration, while perfectly natural in sexy dreams, reflects how repressed the sexuality is within this community, so that sexuality manifests as frustration and “wanting” in Jonas’ dream.

Congratulated on reaching the age that allows him to join his parents and friend Asher in taking the pills, Jonas becomes proud of his new status and takes the pills. As soon as he’s taken them, he tries to recapture the “pleasurable feelings in the dream,” but they quickly slip away and vanish.

They drugged the sexy right out of this community!

I thought these two chapters went so well together that they should post both at once. Next month: The start of the The Ceremony!

July 21, 2010 at 10:25 pm 18 comments

The Neverending Story, part III

When we last saw him Atreyu had just set out on his quest to find a cure for the Childlike Empress. Since visiting the glass towers of Eribo he has ridden through many wondrous parts of Fantasia, he has encountered the Nothing itself in the Howling forest. In his dreams a great buffalo told him to seek out the Ancient Morla, a giant turtle and perhaps the oldest creature in their world.
Morla lives in the swamps of despair however and Atreyu loses his dear little horse Artax, when the poor creature becomes to sad to go on and lets herself sink into the mud of the swamp.

Though he manages to find the aged turtle, Morla scoffs him and tells him the end of the world doesn’t matter to her. She’s so old, she doesn’t care about anything befalling Fantasia, she’s outlived everything so far. But if he does insist on an answer, perhaps Atreyu should seek out the Southern Oracle.

The Southern Oracle however lives on the other side of Fantasia, and Atreyu continues his journey, though much sadder, slower and wearier. Still he does encounter Falcor a luck dragon and it is the nature of those creatures to bestow good fortune on their friends and companions. So Atreyu does make it to the Southern Oracle, where he is received into the care of two gnomes who can tell him all about the three gates that anyone who wishes to visit Uyulala, the oracle, must pass.

So that is where we find him now, standing before the two sfinxes who guard the first gate.

A slightly different picture this month, as I realised too late that the drawing I had made for the scene I wanted to illustrate, was lovely, spiffy and all that, but that I had no way to finish it on time, seeing as how I have no scanner this week. The unfortunate consequence of house and dog sitting for my mum, while she’s in France. So while I do get the advantages of a week in a nice house to myself, said nice house does not have any device for putting drawings on the internet.

That’s why I decided to go back to the style of the very first thing I made for Picturebook Report, the title page. You see in the actual book, every chapter has a wonderfully illustrated title page with the first letter of that chapter in beautiful calligraphy. This is then my version of those ‘official’ illustrations.
So here you are:

Chapter   : The Three Gates
Falcor was still sleeping when….

July 21, 2010 at 1:40 pm 7 comments

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