cover image Workshop


Andrew Clements. Clarion Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-85579-9

Precision and poetry characterize this singular volume, which introduces the hand tools in a wood- and metal-working shop as the builders construct a carousel. Each spread presents one implement, from Ruler to Chisel to Saw, along with a haiku-like description: ""Hammer is a hitter, a beater, a pounder, a nailer./ Hammer moves, whack by thump by thud./ Hammer keeps swinging."" Clements (Temple Cat) distills the sentences to their essence. His active verbs (""Drill spins in"") and declaratives (""Screwdriver is a partner"") mimic the confident movement of a person at one with a tool. Wisniewski (Golem) supplements this steady, controlled text with fastidious cut-paper images of a boy assisting master craftsmen as they create the hand-built wooden merry-go-round. The illustrations frame the definitions in time and space: the caps, denim aprons and heavy mustaches of the men suggest first-generation immigrants of early 20th-century America. The artist's signature layers of colorful paper (some raised to cast three-D shadows, some sprinkled with a spray of sawdust or ""sparks"") attest to the same concentration and technical finesse celebrated by Clements's words. Balance, the center of any craft or spiritual practice, is the soul of this concise and beautifully designed book. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)