I go overboard whenever I visit the library. It’s like stepping into a bookstore where everything you see is free. While checking out a few books one day, my eyes landed on these two illustrated children’s books. Lucy I’d heard of before so I quickly grabbed it before any kid could think to take it. Then I saw the cover of The Sound of All Things and grabbed it too because I liked the illustration on the cover and the title sounded intriguing. What could it be about, I wondered.
Lucy by Randy Cecil (illus.)
A tiny dog, a kindhearted girl, and a nervous juggler converge in a cinematic book in four acts.
Lucy is a small dog without a home. She had one once, but she remembers it only in her dreams. Eleanor is a little girl who looks forward to feeding the stray dog that appears faithfully beneath her window each day. Eleanor’s father is a juggler with stage fright.
This was a sweet story about friendship and family. Eleanor lives with her father and tries to help him overcome his stage fright. She also sometimes feed the quirky little dog, Lucy, that visits her every day. Lucy is a homeless dog that embarks on a new adventure every day though some parts of the day are routine. Since the story is told in four acts, each act is about a different adventure. The things Lucy gets up to are funny and are sure to entertain kids.
Though the book looks thick, it is a very short, very quick read. We get an illustration per page accompanied by a few sentences. The illustrations are in black and white and seem like they were done in pencil, though on the book’s cover, the illustrations are referred to as paintings. Either way, they are wonderful and fun to look at. They aren’t very detailed, but I like their simplicity.
Overall: ★★★☆☆ 1/2
A fun, entertaining book for kids with great illustrations. I enjoyed it.
A day in the life of a young hearing boy and his deaf parents. The Brooklyn family takes an outing to Coney Island, where they enjoy the rides, the food, and the sights. The father longs to know about how everything sounds, and his son does his best to interpret the noisy surroundings through sign language but finds it difficult. He simply needs more words to convey a wider variety of sounds. When the family drops in at the library on the way home, the boy realizes that in these many books he will be able to find a wealth of new words to help him explain the hearing world to his father.
This one was also great. It’s a heartfelt illustrated children’s book set in Brooklyn during the 1930s and is about a young hearing boy hanging out with his deaf parents at Coney Island and describing the sound of things to his father. I loved it because it reverses the parent-child dynamic. Instead of the child constantly asking the parent to explain something, the boy instead has to describe things to his father, who is eager and excited to know what the things around them sound like. My favorite part is this passage where the boy’s mother asks the father why he always wants to know what things sound like:
“Look at how the sunlight is caught in the waves,” my mother signed.
“Yes,” my father answered. “I wonder how they sound.”
“Why do you always want to know what things sound like?” my mother asked. “You and I will never hear them.”
“But I will,” he signed strongly. “In my mind.”
I also love the part that follows this section where the boy realizes that he doesn’t know enough words to adequately describe the sounds he hears to his father. I think that’s quite realistic since the boy is so young. We aren’t told his age, but we can tell from the illustrations that he’s probably pre-teen or a little younger than that.
The story draws on the Uhlberg’s experiences. He grew up in Brooklyn and was a hearing child of deaf parents. Though the book is very short, I think it accomplishes a lot in its story. The realistic illustrations greatly help as well. Papoulas’s illustrations are large and very detailed and it seems to me that they are paintings, though sometimes it looks like he probably used pastels. I wish the illustrators would say what they used to create the artwork in these books. [Update: Ted Papoulas commented below (yeahie!) and said “All the illustrations in the book are gouache and acrylic on illustration board. No pastels were used.”]
Great story and illustrations. It’s another good one to read aloud to kids and the large, realistic pictures would certainly help. I think it’s good to read the author’s note too in which he talks a little about his childhood.
Another good read that I recommend.