cover image Franz’s Phantasmagorical Machine

Franz’s Phantasmagorical Machine

Beth Anderson, illus. by Caroline Hamel. Kids Can, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-5253-0325-8

Franz Gsellmann (1910–1981) grew up on a farm in Austria, and even as his mother called him to chores, “a tiny whisper called him to imagine, discover, create.” Inspired by a world’s fair exhibition, Franz, portrayed with pale skin and blue hair, devotes the next 23 years of his spare time to building a huge mechanical-kinetic sculpture out of castoffs from the junkyard, ignoring skeptical and scoffing family and neighbors. When his enormous, fanciful creation fully comes to life, “Its hum swelled to a rumble, then to a gentle roar. The floor beneath him vibrated as the behemoth began to whir. Franz’s heart zinged,” Anderson writes. Hamel’s appropriately whimsical toy-like drawings underline Franz’s indomitably optimistic spirit. If the text sometimes skews lengthy, there is no question throughout that its subject is making something beautiful for the world—on his own terms—in this love letter to both unquenchable curiosity and outsider art. All characters read as white. Ages 5–8. (May)