Norman Messenger's reputation as an illustrator became established with work for books, magazines and design groups. His books for children include Annabel's House (winner of the U.S. Redbook Award), Making Faces and Imagine. He was a founder member of the Association of Illustrators and lives in Redmarley D'Abitot, Gloucestershire.
The Cutlery Tree, Sky Travelers, the Lurking Otter, and the Sawbill Bird all live in the Land of Neverbelieve, a lush, green island Messenger (Imagine) says he encountered while "quietly puttering about at sea" in his boat. The island, he explains, periodically sprouts a pair of legs and relocates itself; this is why its residents dare not leave it, for fear that it will be gone when they return. Working along the lines of a visual encyclopedia or a guidebook to this imaginary land, Messenger uses delicate clouds of pencil and watercolor to draw the island's trees (the Forgetful Tree "does not remember to produce branches or leaves"), scary fastnesses (the Spooky Dark Mountains), inhabitants ("friendly, gentle, and doll-like in stature"), and amusements (metamorphosing creatures that "transform, link, and stand upside down"). Every page is crammed with information and images; most have gatefolds with yet more fantastical creatures and outlandish details. "You would never believe..." read the introductions to several sections, echoing the title. The Land of Neverbelieve may wander, but fortunately the book can be returned to again and again. Ages 7-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Gr 4 Up-"You would never believe the wondrous delights of the calm and tranquil clearing: a surprising, cherished tree, and if you are lucky, delightful surreal visitors showing off their talents." The gnarled, leafless alphabet tree in "The Happy Forest Clearing" is among a multitude of fanciful plants and animals in this extravagant travelogue. Some are surreal, others murky or indistinct in crowded double-page entries describing the author's encounters on a strange, heavily populated island he found one day "while quietly puttering about at sea in my boat." Messenger's soft-hued drawings, dominated by gray greens and tans, depict an island laid out in the profile of a wolf. Many views are extended in narrow foldout panels on one side or the other. The entries form a catalogue of the physical features, habitations, and flora and fauna of the island in dry, terse commentary-probably intended as tongue-in-cheek-set in brief introductions and captions for the numerous pictures. "You would never believe" the pasta tree that delivers spaghetti clusters with an "herb-like leaf, which tastes uncannily like basil." Some references are more likely to be understood by adults, and some of the jokes are pretty flat, but there are amusing incongruities lurking here as well. This is a browsing item for the oversize shelves; it could also be useful in prompting children to develop their own imaginary lands.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
this is a wonderful gift that will make any imaginative child want to take the first boat available out to the island - if they can find it! * Bookseller * a truly timeless book, one that will enchant its readers and excite their imaginations, one to be pored over and treasured. * We Love this Book * A privileged peek into a very unusual naturalist's notebook * Independent *