A modern fable about nature's power from the Greenaway Medal winner.
Levi Pinfold has worked as an author and illustrator since graduating from University College Falmouth. He paints with watercolour and gouache, creating imagery from imagination and memory. His debut book, The Django, won a Booktrust Early Years Award. Michael Foreman described it as, "A virtuoso display of real drawing."
Mr Barleycorn picks a green baby growing on his land, letting loose the incredible power of nature. Painted in vivid watercolours and gouache, the book has a sense of the surreal and magical: plants sprout out of the television, vines colonise the kitchen, and even the transport has taken to seed. The follow-up to Kate Greenaway Medal-winner Black Dog, this strange and beautiful book is a modern fable, a paean to the power and bounty of the natural world. -- Fiona Noble * The Bookseller * Follow up to Kate Greenaway Medal winner Blank Dog, this strange and beautiful book is a modern fable, a paeon to the power and bounty of nature painted with vivid, Magical watercolours and gouache. -- Fiona Noble * The Bookseller * Stunning, breathtaking, wonderful. Levi Pinfold's books are genuine treasures and so our book of the week this week has to be "Greenling"...Now, you've probably heard us talking about Levi Pinfold on this blog. Levi is an astonishing talent who makes us patiently wait between books because his books - well they take a while. It's easy to see why. Stunning painted artwork like that doesn't just sporadically happen overnight, it takes a lot of work and in this story of a strange plant child discovered, Kalel-like, tucked away in a long forgotten corner of Barleycorn Land, you'll drink in each page spread like a fantastic vista or glorious view... [...] Sometimes when we open our book parcels here at ReadItDaddy Towers, and treasures such as "Greenling" are unwrapped, there's a tiny almost psychic moment between Charlotte and myself where we look at each other and know that a book is destined for the "Book of the Week" slot before we've even opened the cover (and we're very rarely wrong). Greenaway medal winner for a reason - the only tinge of sadness is that now "Greenling" is here, we're destined for another tortuous achingly long wait for the next stunning book from Levi Pinfold. But we have a feeling it'll be well worth the wait too, just like this was. Charlotte's best bit: So many favourite bits but she really loved picking out all the various animal species that find a home in the Greenling's new green homestead paradise. Daddy's Favourite bit: Stunning to look at, a lullaby of a story that eases into your subconscious like a trickle of warm honey, a really spectacular and special book. If you buy one children's book this year, make it this one. -- Phil May * Read it Daddy! * The gaps in the text encourage speculation and imagination. An ecological fable with themes around prejudice and fear of the unknown. The stunning illustrations have a sense of the surreal and invite exploration and discussion. The gaunt figures of the Barleycorns call to mind Grant Wood's painting 'American Gothic'. -- Ann Lazim * CLPE * When a green baby creature appears on their remote Australian farm, the Barleycorns take it in, nurture it, and become part of its natural world-at least for a season. The intricate paintings in this haunting fantasy have an ominous edge right from the sepia-toned title page that shows a small wooden farmhouse snug against a railroad trestle in an otherwise vast and empty landscape. In the story, after the husband takes the baby in, he, his wary wife, and even commuters stranded at their farm by the sudden rampant expansion of all growing things, enjoy the fruits of a lush summer. But the Greenling is a creature of summer, and when fall comes, he, like the growing plants, disappears, leaving who knows what to come. A final double-page spread shows wind vanes instead of power lines, green grass and small flowers growing, but no visible humans. The rhyme and insistent rhythmic pulse of the text add a sense of inevitability. This ecological fable, a British import, has the folkloric atmosphere of Pinfold's Kate Greenaway Medal-winning Black Dog (2012). It will have sinister overtones for those who know that according to folklore, John Barleycorn's life ends with folks drinking his blood, but most readers will simply enjoy the artist's surreal vision and detailed imagery, which includes surprising Australian fauna. Chilling and thought-provoking, this picture book for older readers invites discussion. -- Kirkus * Kirkus Reviews * Pinfold's (Black Dog) finely worked paintings distinguish this story about a babylike "Greenling" who makes fruit and vegetables grow everywhere. Mr. Barleycorn finds what looks like a giant artichoke near his house under an elevated railway line and comes home with a bright green baby, which he settles in a mound of soil in the kitchen ("We can't leave him outside for the crows," he tells his wife). Surreal, marvelously detailed spreads reveal the Greenling's gratitude; melons twine through the kitchen, and apples grow in the living room. The man welcomes the bounty, but his wife grouses. Yet the next morning, as the railway is overtaken by vines and the neighbors complain, she defends the strange infant: "We should welcome this Greenling into our house/ we've been living in his all along!" The Greenling is nature's bounty personified, it is clear; after delivering autumn plenty for all, he disappears, though Pinfold hints at more to come. The verse-text is oddly heavy-handed, and the allegorical nature of the story keeps the characters at a distance, but Pinfold's vision of the natural world breaking free of human fetters is captivating. * Publishers Weekly * In measured rhyme, Pinfold (Black Dog, 2012) tells the story of Mr. Barleycorn, a man who brings home an odd green baby he found on his land. His wife wants him to get rid of it, but "You cannot return for a refund. / A baby is not like a hat. / What's picked is picked, what's done is done, / and that, Barleycorns, is that." So, despite his wife's complaints, Mr. Barleycorn gives the baby a pile of dirt for a bed, and lets him grow-and soon, nature begins to run wild. The Greenling's influence seeps throughout the Barleycorn's house: trees grow over their television, lavender surrounds their bed, and grass and sunflowers sprout out of the walls and the telephone. When the townspeople, angry that their plants are taking over, call for the Barleycorns to get rid of the child, Mrs. Barleycorn changes her mind: "We should welcome this Greenling into our house, / we've been living in his all along!" The rhyme scheme is gentle and soothing, and Pinfold's luminous mixed-media illustrations are gloriously strange. This fable about the power of the outside world and the balance between technology and nature is important, and the story itself is haunting and austere. -- Maggie Reagan * Booklist US *