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Thursday, December 18, 2014

The River, by Alessandro Sanna. Enchanted Lion Books, Publishers Group West. 2014. $28.50 all ages

"Here winter is warm breaths exhaled into the freezing fog, and shapes that simply vanish, stolen away by the dense afternoon light. An old country schoolhouse warms the children with their cold feet. In the stable, a calf is about to be born."

I am quite sure that I will never stop singing the praises of Enchanted Lion Books and the truly unique and lovely books they publish. I was delighted to receive a copy of The River and to take the time to pore over every page at my leisure. It is filled with brilliant detail, and the events seen as the seasons change.

The first chapter sets our focus on autumn, and builds brief sketches concerning life along the banks of a river. Each of the four chapters is introduced by the author. Then, his amazing illustrations provide a look at the life he lives on the banks of the Po River in northern Italy. He captures life as it evolves, virtually in his own back yard and over a period of years. Life constantly moves and shifts, just as the river's water does. It has its ups and downs, but is always moving forward, filled with life and inspiration. Each season offers a fully developed story of its own!

The watercolor images are done as full-page or a series of panels, each offering a part of the story being told. You cannot help but pay close attention to get the full meaning of every piece of the visual narrative. Autumn brings flooding. Winter is much warmer than what we would expect. Spring is as spring is everywhere - full of sunshine and new life, and music. Summer brings searing heat, and some discomfort.  As the seasons give over one to the other, so do the colors used to bring each season to glorious life for those who share this remarkable book. I guarantee that once you have made your way slowly through its pages, you will be inclined to start all over again. Do! It is so worth it...

Virtually wordless, it is quickly evident that the gorgeous artwork speaks for itself, captures attention fully and might even inspire readers to take a close look at their own environs and to try to capture life as it happens in their own neighborhood. It is a sketchbook for an artist, a seasonal journal for a writer and a worthy addition to any collection.                                                                             

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