Pablo the Artist

Satoshi Kitamura, Author . FSG $16 (24p) ISBN 978-0-374-35687-3

Pablo, an elephant in a pale yellow suit and brown fedora, bears little stylistic resemblance to his Spanish namesake. He belongs to the pedestrian Hoof Lane Art Club, a suburban salon whose most daring member is a zebra with a passion for parallel lines. When Pablo suffers "artist's block," he strolls to a verdant field, paints a drab picture of a tree and takes a nap. While he sleeps, passing animals rate his handiwork (a thin ink frame around each page subtly suggests a fantasy suspension of Pablo's humdrum reality). The watery grass "looks completely tasteless!" to a sheep, who tints it "a delicious bright green." "No nuts! I see no nuts!" chatters a squirrel, who hops on the sheep's back to paint dots in the branches. The animals depart just as Pablo awakens and exclaims, "What a strange dream.... Now I know exactly what to do!," and gets back to work. The finished canvas goes unseen until the last moment, when Pablo displays it at an exhibition; readers will smile at his secret helpers, silently joining the gallery throng. As in Igor, the Bird Who Couldn't Sing , Kitamura imagines a character overcoming creative limitations, and his droll double-entendre clarifies what happened: "For Pablo it was a dream come true." Kitamura illustrates in his signature choppy, shaky ink lines and saturated colors. Thanks to Pablo's furred and feathered critics, readers notice what an unobservant painter might neglect when crafting a natural landscape. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/30/2006
Release date: 02/01/2006
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-1-84270-565-0
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-1-84270-452-3
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