Manhattan

Jean Christian Knaff, Author Faber & Faber $9.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-571-14653-6
Manhattan is the name of a small pale boy who resides in a surrealistic countryside of empty castles and quiet volcanoes. Unhappy and lonely, Manhattan's only friend is his tiny black horse. One day he meets Julia, a dark-skinned girl with four black pigtails and a tiny zebra, and she describes places Manhattan has never seen. Knaff tells this story in very few words; his intentionally vague and elliptical style leaves the tale open to many possibilities of meaning. Though Manhattan and Julia are clearly of different races, the simplicity and beauty of the story imply much more than just a lesson on cross-cultural harmony. The pastel illustrations are startling and expressive, portraying the two characters with parapet-top heads from which emerge clouds, rainbows, toys and other symbols, and placing them against a flat landscape of orange skies and blue volcanoes. In the cryptic but happy ending, Julia and Manhattan gaze at the night sky from the parapet of another larger figure's head, an image that completes the enigmatic mood. A strangely beautiful, moving work, Manhattan will also intrigue adults with an eye for the unusual. All ages. (October)
Reviewed on: 08/04/1987
Release date: 08/01/1987
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-394-84780-1
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