Total Pageviews

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Maggie and Michael Get Dressed, written and illustrated by Denise Fleming. Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2016. $20.50 ages 2 and up

"Maggie, did you hear that?
It's time to get dressed!

Look, Maggie - socks.
Yellow socks.

Maggie, come back here!

Socks go on your feet,
not in your mouth."

When Michael's mother lets him know that the time has come for getting dressed this morning, he hears her. He simply chooses to misinterpret her meaning. Maggie, his small dog and constant companion, will 'get dressed'.

With a focus on color (and humor), Denise Fleming uses her unmistakable and impressive pulp paintings to allow her readers to share the love between a dog and her young charge. Attuned to his needs and wanting to please, Maggie involves herself completely in play and her response to Michael's many suggestions. It is easy to see how much she loves him, despite the apprehension displayed. She bends to his will, accepts his help and licks his face when the task is almost completed. OOPS! Michael forgot the underwear. Hilarious!

A reminder from his mom about the task at hand has Michael scrambling to get Maggie out and himself into the chosen apparel. Mom, Michael and the baby are soon off to do what they need to get done, leaving Maggie and the ever-observant, astounded kitten to themselves. Maggie proves her prowess with chewing, taking on what is left behind; the kitten cautiously takes in all the mischief. The family's return is welcome, and all is well. If you check further, you will see that the baby has been just as sharp-eyed as the kitten.

I have been a fan of Denise Fleming and her work since I first saw her first book in 1991. I am always eager to see what's next. In an recent interview with Julie Danielson at she explains the process for creating her amazing images:

"Pulp painting is a paper-making technique. I pour recycled cotton fiber that has been beaten to a fine pulp and floating in water onto a frame covered with screen. The water drains through the screen, and the fiber stays on top of the screen. The beaten cotton fiber comes to me white. I dye the fiber with colorfast pigments. To create images, I cut stencils and pour the colored fiber inside the stencil shapes. I also use very finely-beaten colored fiber and water in squeeze bottles [to] draw images.
Once the painting is finished, I flip it off the screen onto a damp cloth. I put another damp cloth on top of the pulp painting and then, using a large damp sponge, I press down on the paper and remove as much water as possible. From there, I transfer it to a vacuum table that removes even more water from the paper. Then it goes into a drying press where it is sandwiched between blotter paper and Homasote board where it dries flat. The more pressure applied, the stronger the paper becomes. The image and sheet of paper are one.

Children, nature, and life in general keep me inspired, along with some pretty talented book-making friends. I can spend a whole day happily watching bees gather nectar, birds building nests, the wind blowing the tall stalks of bamboo outside my studio, and eavesdropping on conversations. Doesn't take much for my endorphins to flow and, with those endorphins, come ideas.

I also like to experiment with different art processes and materials. The book after 5 Little Ducks, which will be released in November, will be illustrated with collage and a variety of printmaking techniques. I am quite excited about that new technique and several others that will be debuting in the future."

If you want to know ever more, check this out:

You can also visit Denise's website:

No comments:

Post a Comment