cover image Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch

Pish, Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch

Nancy Willard. Harcourt Children's Books, $22 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-262210-7

The fascination of Dutch artist Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516) with bizarre imaginary beings is the springboard for a chimerical vision--elegantly realized in this resplendent work. In Willard's playful poem, the artist's housekeeper is vexed to the utmost by such distractions as ``a beehive in boots and a pear-headed priest / who call monkeys to order and lizards to feast,'' but ultimately ac- cepts that her lot--and, her expressions suggest, her affections--lies with Bosch and his menagerie, however maddening. Once again, the Dillons have tailored their style to perfectly suit--and here, lend waggish twists to--their subject. Rendered in the opulent tones and peculiar, wild spirit of Bosch's works, their parade of fantastical creatures would make the master proud: animate cucumbers, an armor-plated, two-headed dragon, a flying fish with wings of pickles. Each exquisite painting is contained within a meticulously designed, sculpted gilt frame that produces a three-dimensional effect and adds to the immediacy and power of the surreal tableaux. The book's design is further enhanced by the calligraphic text, rich ivory stock and splendidly ornamented sepia endpapers. This eccentric work may not be for youngest children, but anyone with unusual vision and an affinity for the quirkiest corners of the imagination will find it a source of endless fascination. All ages. (Oct.)