cover image In the Park

In the Park

Huy Voun Lee, Author, Huy Voun Lee, Illustrator Henry Holt & Company $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8050-4128-6

Harmony is the effect Huy achieves in her playful collage cutouts of blooming park scenes. As in At the Beach and In the Snow, Huy fluidly weaves a lesson in drawing Chinese characters into a mother-son outing. Young Xiao Ming, sporting a baseball cap, pulls his pigtailed mother excitedly through an expansive urban refuge. Nature has erupted into the colors of spring and there's much to see: families strolling, singing groups and chirping birds, an army of ants loaded with cargo, Rollerbladers, bikers and painters. Huy gracefully depicts the American melting pot in these double-spread pages framed with borders of soft colors that integrate silhouettes of elements from the text (ducks, frogs, raindrops). The Chinese character that Xiao Ming's mother is teaching him to draw introduces each spread: for example, the character for insects (""It looks like three bugs flying,"" remarks Xiao Ming) accompanies three bees in flight; three flowing vertical lines connote a stream. Huy uses an organic approach, exploring each word as mother and son come upon it in their travels; a strategy especially well suited to a written language in which art and life meet so naturally in the composition of its characters (a glossary flanks the tale). The park scenes are wonderfully diverse, and in the few spreads where mother and son are not visible, their running dialogue keeps them ever present. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)