CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 10 . . . . November 4, 2011
What do artsy babies do? Well, this is the book you've been looking for if you are at all curious.
Tricycle Press' new board book about the joy of living an art filled life is genuinely gratifying. Artsy Babies Wear Paint marks the eleventh in this series. Along with illustrator Nathalie Dion, author Michelle Sinclair Coleman began the collection with Urban Babies Wear Black.
Artsy Babies Wear Paint is a truly sophisticated board book. It manages to balance simplicity and sophistication gracefully. It is a true picturebook, in that the words and images require each other's presence for coherence. Without over thinking either text or illustration, a fine balanced is reached between the two. Artsy Babies' content is humorous and pleasurable. An 'All Ages' designation would be thoroughly appropriate as the adult recognizes the tribute to 'the drip period', the Impressionists and the Surrealists, while the child delights in the pleasures of colour, form and (best of all) mess!
Nathalie Dion renders her illustrations in pen and ink before they are altered digitally creating a 'clean' look, though still maintaining the texture of the artist. Because the colour palate and lines of the work have a certain personality that may not suit all tastes, this book might be easy to overlook. This would be unfortunate as it is likely to win over even the hesitant. Although it is true that Artsy Babies Wear Paint is likely to appeal more to those with artistic inclinations, it would be well worth a little investigating on the part of the less than art savvy reader to discover some of the subtle references.
There's a lot to look at as the viewer follows artsy babies along through various stages of expression and activity. Detail, patterns and shapes can be happily experienced over and over again. Fittingly, this art filled day ends with a sleepy nod to Miro and the colour of artsy babies' dreams.
Lara LeMoal is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Children's Literature at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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