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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The House in the Night - Susan Swanson ; pictures by Beth Krommes.

It's official, I've now read another of this year's award winning titles. Woohoo! This book, The House in the Night, is the winner of this year's Caldecott medal, the award given for the best illustrated children's book, and this one's a beauty. It's all done in scratchboard which is where the artist begins with a piece of "board" (what kind, I'm not really sure) that's covered in black wax and then uncovers the color (white) by scratching the wax off as opposed to other art forms where the color is added TO the white. In this case some bright yellow was added to highlight particular elements in each picture. I saw an interview with this artist and she said doing the pictures for this book was easy because there were ONLY something like 17 of them. Ha! The art in this story has a very luminous quality to it.

The story itself is also lovely, inspired by a nursery rhyme that begins, “This is the key of the kingdom." The story is told in a circular, simple way, and another person whose comments I was reading noted that this allows the reader to really focus on the pictures in this book.

Overall, a wonderful picture book, and a fantastic choice for the Caldecott.

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