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THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT

Edward Lear, Author, Anne Wilson, Illustrator
Edward Lear, Author, Anne Wilson, Illustrator , illus. by Anne Wilson. Chronicle $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8118-3903-7
Reviewed on: 03/10/2003
Release date: 02/01/2003
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-06-205010-6
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The blissful pairing of the owl and the pussycat isn't the only marriage made in heaven here—Wilson's (The Beautiful World that God Made) punchy collage art proves an exuberant partner to Lear's classic nonsense verse. Combining patterned papers printed with rich inks, the artist concocts a beguilingly off-kilter setting that, like the text, up-ends convention. The starring characters have a surface simplicity, but in fact each is highly stylized. Bronze and copper circles and curves adorn the paper from which Pussy is cut, while Owl is more complicated: gold squiggles thinly drawn on orange suggest the feathers for his head and wings, an orange oval printed with an open-weave-type design creates the texture on his breast and his face is a streamlined assemblage of simple solid shapes. However elaborate the components, the illustrations are remarkably harmonious, unified by subtly geometric motifs. When, for instance, the loving couple sails away, "for a year and a day," Wilson shows the two in their peapod-like craft ascending a circular horizon; the half-oval of sea they cross to reach "the land where the Bong-tree grows" is echoed in the ovoid shapes of those trees, each of which boasts detailed, bright designs. Elsewhere, curved lines of type reinforce the structure of the composition. Witty, fresh and rhythmic, Wilson's illustrations mirror Lear's whimsy and capture his musicality. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)

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