Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ideas Are All Around

     What happens when an author and illustrator can't find an idea for a new book? This is a question that Caldecott award winner Phillip C. Stead takes on in his thoughtful book, Ideas Are All Around. The artwork is a  blend of mono print techniques, collage, photography and text typed on a Smith-Corona Secretarial typewriter. Visually, these multiple styles take the reader on a subtle and beautiful journey, as the author shares his story in first person, He has a story to write, but he thinks he'll take his dog, Wednesday for a walk instead. And, oh, the adventures they have. A friend, Barbara, who greets the author and his dog in the beginning ends up offering coffee and words of advice later in the book. 
       What I love about this book the way it reminds me of folk tales like " The Man who had No Story", an Irish folktale about a man taken by the fairies who eventually has a whopper of a story to share, once he has ventured out. Stead's story is a kind of a rambling tale, shared in a moment by moment voice. How many of us could do the same- wander out with a child or a dog and notice what happens in an hour? It may not be one of those books with a Big Plot or huge brightly colored images, but this book may serve as a soul soother for the end of a day, or a pause before a naptime.
You may recognize Phillip Stead's artistic style from other books of his. Two of my favorites are:
 My Name is Ruby ( 2013) and Bear Has a Story to Tell ( 2012).

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