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Highly original story about children overcoming adult snobbery, told in four voices and illustrated by Browne's unique, surreal artwork.
ANTHONY BROWNE is the acclaimed author and illustrator of such prize-winning bestsellers as GORILLA (winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal and the Kurt Maschler Award), WILLY THE WIMP and ZOO (winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal). VOICES IN THE PARK won the 1998 Kurt Maschler Award and was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal. Anthony was also the winner of the 2000 Hans Christan Andersen Award for Illustration.
Browne again proves himself an artist of inventive voice and vision as he creates perhaps his most psychologically complex work to date via a commonplace experienceÄa brief sojourn to a city park. The author of King Kong and the Willy stories again features anthropomorphic chimps, who provide four unique perspectives: an uppity, overbearing mother and her glum son, Charles; and an unemployed fellow and his cheerful daughter, Smudge. What transpires factually is simple: the two children play together, their dogs do the same, the adults keep to themselves. Yet Browne reinvents and overlays the scene as each parent and child in turn describes their version of the events, altering light, colors and words. Browne sets up the tension by starting off with Charles's stylishly dressed mother, who lets her "pedigree Labrador," Victoria, off the leash and then scoffs at "some scruffy mongrel"(Smudge's dog). The matriarch similarly describes Charles's newfound friend as "a very rough-looking child." Through Charles's eyes, readers watch the tops of lampposts, gray clouds and a leafless tree take on the shape of his mother's large chapeau, as her hat-dominated figure casts a shadow over the boy. In the succeeding page, Browne cleverly frames a shift in Charles's mood with an illustration divided by a lamppost: threatening clouds and bare trees give way to blue skies and blossoming branches when a smiling, pigtailed (anything but rough-looking) Smudge on the sunny side of the park bench invites Charles to play on the slide. Browne offers readers much to pore over. His images reflect the human psyche; some are eerie (Edvard Munch's "The Scream" appears in the want ads; a burning tree provides the backdrop for mother and son's silent exit from the park), others uplifting. For example, the subjects of two portraits leaning on the park wall, a gloomy Rembrandt self-portrait and a weeping Mona Lisa, transform into a dancing couple under a street lamp fashioned from a flower, as the jobless man departs the park, cheered by his daughter. Although some discomfiting tonesÄin both pictures and textÄ appear in the vignettes, Browne also celebrates the redeeming power of connecting with another human being. His creativity invites youngsters to tap into their own, as they look for clues between the trees and add their own spins to Browne's four interconnected tales. Ages 7-11. (Sept.)
K-Gr 5-A mother takes her son and their dog to the park, where she thinks about dinner and turns up her nose at the "frightful types." Meanwhile, an unemployed father sits on the same bench and searches the want ads while admiring his daughter's chatter and their dog's energy. The two kids, of course, find one another. In four short first-person narratives, each of the characters recounts the same outing from a different perspective and at a different emotional level. The mother is annoyed. The father is melancholy. The boy is bored and lonely, then hopeful. The girl is independent and outgoing, yet observant. The real "voices," however, are not found in the quiet, straightforward text, but in Browne's vibrant, super-realistic paintings in which trees are oddly shaped, footsteps turn to flower petals, Santa Claus begs for change, and people happen to be primates. Some of the illustrations appear in smaller squares while others are full bleeds so that even the margins become part of the narrative. Browne's fans should find this even more satisfying than Willy the Dreamer (Candlewick, 1998). Because readers will want to compare pages (did that building turn into a castle?) and tarry over every detail, this book is best suited to independent reading. Even prereaders will be intrigued by the way a simple visit to the park can literally be "seen" in so many different ways.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA
"Highly original talent . . . Browne's picures of the city streets and the park are a joy to look at . . . Anthony Browne first editions are likely to become collector's items" * Daily Telegraph * "An instant classic" * Financial Times * "The haunting Voices in the Park by Anthony Browne turns a simple tale and a visually stunning series of surreal pictures . . . into a many-layered odyssey . . . this book will last a long time" * The Times * "A genuinely thought-provoking read, and, as usual with Anthony Browne's work, the illustrations, with their surreal references draw the reader in" * Sunday Telegraph *