CHELSEA MORNING

Joni Mitchell, Author, Brian Froud, Illustrator , illus. by Brian Froud. ibooks/Milk & Cookies $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-689-03593-7

Accompanied by Froud's (Faeries ) jarring, at times garish pictures introducing a range of fairy- and gnome-like characters, the lyrics of Mitchell's song make for a cryptic picture book. As a girl awakens to hear a "song outside my window," a sprite appears over her head, apparently ushering in magic that transforms the youngster into a radiant, winged princess-like being. After a few pages, she inexplicably disappears from the art. Froud then conjures a mishmash of bizarre, at times eerie creatures whose antics offer a disjointed take on Mitchell's words ("Blue, red, green and gold to welcome you,/ crimson crystal beads to beckon" acts as caption for a portrait of a Seussian character sporting a striped green leotard and red cape, holding a crystal ball in one hand and, in the other, a dwarf whose coat ends in a fringe of ruby beads). When the girl does return (wearing a flowing, white gown and a wreath on her head), liquid falling from her hand assumes the shape of ghoulish faces ("And the sun poured in like butterscotch and stuck to all my senses"). This visual interpretation is unlikely to help newcomers warm to Mitchell's song; and those familiar with "Chelsea Morning" will find that these images muddle rather than elucidate its message. The brightest note here is Mitchell's crystal clear performance of the song on a CD tucked into the inside back cover. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-1-59687-178-6
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