Archive for December 2009

Paper Cuts: The Art of Emma van Leest

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Chores by their very definition defy fun but as a kid, surrounded by miniature eye candy, it was eye-level adventure. Growing up, I was assigned the duty of dusting which gave me the chance to stare abymssmally into my Mom’s collection of Asian artifacts-tiny cabinets full of cork-art scenes of musing fisherman and ornate, crooked trees.   Artist Emma van Leest creates the same tiny worlds of incredible intricacy with her paper sculptures.

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Written by corvusblue

December 22, 2009 at 7:56 am

Submersible of Sugary Cuteness: The Octonauts

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If Jacque Cousteau saw the world through blinking pupils of adorable optimism and tottered around in a rolly-polly plush toy scuba suit, he might be a possible recruit for the Octonauts. The Octonauts are an underwater team of animal explorers (crew members include Captain Barnacles and Professor Inkling) created by the dollhouse architects of delight, Meomi. From their octopod, the Octonauts encounter a lonely monster, a shadow stealer, a frown fish and in their most recent adventure, a ghost reef.  The aquatic adventures continue in CG splendor as a recently announced TV animated series.

The Octonauts and the Great Ghost Reef
$15.95 US, Hardcover
11 X 8 inches, 36 Pages

Written by corvusblue

December 17, 2009 at 8:18 am

Robot Dreams and Machines: The Art of Mark Rogalski

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Robox
is more than meets the eye; a cardboard box contortionist that transforms into a four-limbed automaton with a window view of his bottomless tummy (which doubles as a convenient book package display). Robox emerges as the gastro-con solution to Renny’s slew of problems; a stalking feline, lugheaded bullies, tentacle veggies and of course, the perpetual plague of homework. Robox gobbles up all of Renny’s troubles in one metallic chomp until his hunger starts to consume the good along with the bad. Author and artist, Mark Rogalski, details Renny’s odyssey and Robox’s dietary oddities in fantastic 3-D detail inviting “I-spy” study of each graphic page. Multimedia touches such as vintage baseball cards, hand-drawn sketches and charts contribute to the hyperrealism of Renny’s world and this tale of “action, adventure and appetite”.

By far, Robox, is one of the most inventive and innovative children’s books that makes reading fun and functional. I immediately made my free-standing Robox which now stands on my shelf, displaying his impish Short Circuit cyborg cuteness. I’m convinced that when he isn’t digesting the worries of the universe, he is dreaming of Martian landscapes and rocketing across blue skies (photo: Optivion; Design: Corvus Blue Studio).

Rogalski’s custom signature of lush landscapes and interactive imagination also unfolds in Dream Machines; a World’s Fair wonder of fantastic vehicles from the Bubble Sub to the Steam Train Aeroplane. True to his packaging prowess, Rogalski also includes a dust jacket cover that doubles as a fold-out board game. Singsong clues ring throughout the book (“the star you seek is in the sky, get back on track and roll the die”) that advance both the dazzling story and spellbound player across a boardgame of contraptions and creatures.

Robox and Dream Machines are both published by Running Press.

Written by corvusblue

December 11, 2009 at 1:13 am

Chicken Dance by Tammi Sauer, Illustrated by Dan Santat

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There’s a whole lot of hoopla when hens Marge and Lola find a poster announcing The Final Doodle Doo and its grand prize to see none other than the cuck-a-doodle dooing crooner, Elvis Poultry, in Chicken Dance. Eager to win, the ladies search for a sure-fire talent that they can perform in spite of the boastful crowing from their barnyard rivals, the ducks. Marge and Lola finally take to the stage and strut their stuff striking iconic dance moves; winged interpretations of Madonna’s “Vogue”, “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Staying Alive” stun the crowd but ultimately catch the King of “Bawk and Roll’s” coveted attention. Author Tammi Sauer humorously captures the fierce competition with fowl-humored jabs (“Get some floaties, chickens”) and throw back references to the DooWop pop phenomenon that ruffled the feathers of the ’60’s. Dan Santat adds to the retro romp with mixed media illustrations framed in nostalgic browns and oranges complete with a star-studded cover that pays homage to the King. Chicken Dance even includes chicken-scratch dance step variations on the inside cover for the footloose and fearless. Forget the embarrassing elbow flap stomp that strikes wedding receptions worldwide-Chicken Dance takes this classic shimmy out of the stuffy dance hall and puts it into the barnyard for an original and inspirationally funny read.
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 36 pages
Publisher: Sterling
ISBN-10: 1402753667

Written by corvusblue

December 7, 2009 at 12:58 am

Kawaii for Kids: The Art of Ami Suma

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“George, I wish you’d look at the nursery” begins Ray Bradbury’s cautionary tale of childhood imagination, The Veldt. In true Bradbury fashion, technology runs amok at the mercy of the children’s subconscious, manifesting virtually everything they wish for and horrifyingly, more than the parents bargained for.  Although the story left me a bit scarred and ironically, a sucker for Cronenberg films, it also reflected my more optimistic belief in the thin slip of reality where a blank bedroom wall could easily dissolve into a technicolor world of fantasy.

Artist and muralist, Ami Suma, also transforms blank canvases into candy-colored dimensions with her kawaii-style menagerie. Suma enlivens kids’ bedrooms with vibrant creatures that, thankfully would sooner cuddle with you than cobble you up under a hot, savannah sun. Ami is also a freelance fashion writer living in New York City. Inspired by the likes of animator, Hayao Miyazaki, Ami also assures me (and other children) that what lies beyond your walls is really a welcoming wonderland.

Written by corvusblue

December 2, 2009 at 4:51 am