Friday, May 7, 2010

Gwen Millward's Drawings are Swell

Gwen Millward is a British illustrator who now lives in Bristol. You can check out what she has to say for herself at her website. Reviewed below are two very different stories, both illustrated by Millward.

Guess What I Found in Dragonwood (written by Timothy Knapman) is the adorable story of a dragon who finds a Benjamin (human boy) in the forest, and promptly attempts to adopt him. He's shocked to find that Benjamin comes from a whole family of Benjamins, does not like to eat worms, and has the upsetting habit or crying rather than breathing fire. Millward's illustrations create a tactile and detailed landscape, complete with labels like "my favorite smoking volcano" and "this is a tear. It's a sad thing." The citrus palette for the dragon's home stands in pleasant contrast to the grays and blues of Benjamin's city, underlining the themes of difference and perspective nicely. Plus, it's a book that's got BOTH dragons AND soccer. Win, win.

Recently, we received The Bog Baby (written by Jeanne Willis) and I've been excited to handsell it since. The Bog Baby tells the story of two sisters who, when visiting a magic pond, capture a little blue, winged creature called a bog baby. Though they do everything they can to make the bog baby feel at home, they must ultimately release the delicate creature back into the pond where it belongs. It's a touching story about love and letting go, and Millward's delicately detailed illustrative style suits the tale perfectly. The full-page illustrations are breathtaking, capturing the magical sensibility of the story and illuminating it. The two page illustration of the bog baby being put back in his natural habitat is full of soft blues, lavendars and dusky pinks and shows the bog baby looking so pleased and happy that one cannot doubt that he's in the right place.

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