November 17, 2013

Out the Window

by Cybèle Young
Groundwood Books
30 pp.
Ages 1-4
October, 2013

It's hard to know what this little creature is (pika, perhaps?) but it doesn't really matter.  He is the small, playful, inquisitive one of Cybèle Young's newest book for children, Out the Window, and he or she could be anyone who has lost something out the window accidentally.

Oh, there's fun to be had by bouncing and throwing that polka-dotted ball but only until it flies out the window.  Then this little one (let's call it a "he") sees an odd assortment of shapes, structures, species as he struggles to reach, jump, grab at the window ledge, all without success.  Finally he pushes a chair into view and places it under the window, climbing upon it and changing the direction of the story in more ways than one.

You see, as that little one climbs upon that chair, the reader reaches the back page (as seen to the right here) which becomes the front cover of the back of the original pages and the continuation of the story.  It's sort of a flip book without any flipping over or rotation, just a reading of the other side of the accordion pages.  Now, from the perspective of outdoors, the reader witnesses the hodge podge parade of which our little pika (?) could only glimpse fragments earlier.  This parade of Seuss-like contraptions and creatures, instruments and acoustics delights him until his ball is returned in a most amusing manner.

Cybèle Young, whose paper sculptures and mixed media collages such as in Ten Birds (Kids Can Press, 2011), A Few Blocks (Groundwood, 2011) and A Few Bites (Groundwood, 2012) have garnered her multiple awards,  demonstrates the simplicity that can be achieved with mixed media while still providing the crisp details that complete the story's illustrations.  Out the Window is a wordless book, with only an occasional "Toot Toot" or "Ding Dong", relying on the illustrations to carry the storyline.  Astoundingly Cybèle Young is able to keep her graphics simple while plotting a rich story for very young children.  That takes skill.  As the recipient of a Governor General's award for children's illustration, I wouldn't expect anything less from Cybèle Young.

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