Sunday, February 20, 2011

review : 13 Words

13 words, lemony snicket and maira kalman (harper)

this book contains thirteen words. they could have been chosen at random - thirteen flips through the dictionary, thirteen finger jabs at thirteen words (with your eyes closed for extra random choosings) for these thirteen words could hardly bring a story together...could they?

they can!

what do a convertible, a baby, a haberdashery and a mezzo-soprano have in common?

the answer is lemony snicket.

the bird is despondent. the dog wants to cheer the bird up. when cake doesn't seem to work completely, they have to come up with something else. a goat in a spiffy jacket is there to help out.

"Do you know what's great?" says the goat.
"A hat. Nothing cheers folks up like a hat."
"That's a swell idea," says the dog.
"Let's go someplace we can buy a hat."

the story is delightfully silly, but also very lovely. adults will get just as much - if not more - enjoyment out of it as children. i actually haven't yet read this one to a child, so am not sure how they will respond. there is a clever use of repetition and it reads very well aloud (i read it out to myself). there is also a pondering, philosophical feeling to it and surely we will all recognise ourselves in that despondent blue bird.

it's beautifully produced. the illustrations by maira kalman are simply spectacular with many, many references to artists and literature (most that i don't recognise specifically but in a hazy i'm sure i saw that in a painting at the musee d'orsay/national gallery/tate modern kind of way, but what fun to work it out over time) and the colours! oh the colours! it's a treat for the eyes.

this review makes me happy. i think 13 words should have instant classic status also. and i felt the same about the composer is dead (which i talked about here and here a little bit too).


hey anonymousauruses - give yourselves a name. a nom de plume, a nom de blog. it's more fun that way.