Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes

Jeanette Winter. S&S/Beach Lane, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4424-9900-3
Winter follows her picture-book biographies of artists including Matisse, O’Keeffe, and Rivera with a look at reclusive artist Joseph Cornell, who made glass-fronted wooden boxes filled with delicate, surreal collections of objects—star charts, cutouts of parrots and ballerinas, marbles in wineglasses—all crafted in the cellar of his home on the marvelously named Utopia Parkway. “He saw only dreams and memories, and he filled his boxes with them.” Winter connects specific memories from Cornell’s life with the creations they grew into, showing each memory in a cloud of periwinkle blue on left-hand pages (“Mr. Cornell remembered blowing soap bubbles”) opposite the box it inspired (a pipe emitting what look like white seashells). While Winter’s lyrical prose is true to the gentle strangeness of Cornell’s work, the digital artwork, done in the style of flat tempera painting, doesn’t convey the fine detail of the boxes, and no photographs of them are included. An afterword supplies more information (Cornell arranged his last exhibition for children, hanging the boxes low for them to see), but the few photos there focus on the viewers, not the work. Ages 4–8. Agent: Susan Cohen, Writers House. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/26/2014
Release date: 08/19/2014
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