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Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Typewriter, by Bill Thomson. two lions, Thomas Allen & Son, 2016. $25.99 all ages

"A bike ride.

A merry-go-round.

A bumblebee with a
mysterious box.

And then?"

Most kids today are not even sure what a manual typewriter is when they see one. Not surprising, given that few are seen these days. So, it is not unusual that the three children in Bill Thomson's new and equally stunning wordless book find delight in the many discoveries they make when they do find one.

A butterfly leads the way along a path edged with banks of snow. The cyclists approach an old carousel, where they are astonished to see that one of the seats is a huge bumblebee. On its back is a black case with unknown contents. It is covered with letters of the alphabet and has a snap opener that allows a look inside the case. The typewriter inside is branded with the words 'Spelling Bee'.

Luckily, the young girl has paper in her backpack. She quickly gets to work. Her first printed word is BEACH. A warm beach magically appears before them. Winter gear abandoned, two of the three play in the balmy waters while the third types another word. Each has a turn, resulting in the perfect accoutrements to a day at the shore ... until the girl returns to type the word 'crab'. This results in a scary turn to their adventure. With imagination and perfect timing, they save themselves and move on to "The End'. Sly, my girl!

As he did in Chalk (2010) and Fossil (2013), Mr. Thomson uses colored pencils and acrylic paints to create a realism that matches photography. His stunning images use light and shadow, emotional facial expressions, constantly changing perspectives and a delightful sense of adventure to assure that those who 'read' it will be fully entertained. It is a story of discovery that every child will want to experience. Magical, exciting, and intensely dramatic  ... and it all seems so REAL!

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