March 19, 2018

Blue Rider

Written and illustrated by Geraldo Valério
Groundwood Books
44 pp.
Ages 4-7
March 2018

At first glance, Blue Rider might appear to be a story about a blue horse and a child with a book. But Blue Rider, like the early 1900s art movement–Der Blaue Reiter–it honours, is more about a rejection of the norms and finding new worlds of expression, whether through art or story.
From Blue Rider by Geraldo Valério
This is the story of one young child living in a sombrely coloured city, just one face in one room in one building in a city rife with buildings. 
From Blue Rider by Geraldo Valério
Even when they leave the building, the child is but one among the throngs hurrying, talking, using cellphones, bustling, bustling, bustling. Then the child spots a book, a book with a blue horse on the cover, in an opening amidst the crowd.  They grab it and take it up to their room.

From Blue Rider by Geraldo Valério
Opening that book and seeing that magnificent blue horse charging across the page similarly plunges the child into new worlds of colour and bold lines and shapes and new landscapes.  Page after page, the blue horse is transforming, its mane effervescing into comets of colour and audacious shape, morphing into its scenery, illuminating, animating and revitalizing all.  Finally the horse and the scene almost become one, a mix of brightness and bliss.  At that point, the child is seen mounted on the racing horse, while the dull room is transformed with new forms of colour.

Blue Rider is a wordless picture book, the story told solely through Geraldo Valério's illustrations.  What the reader takes from the plot of the book and its artwork is very personal.  Blue Rider may pay homage to Der Blaue Reiter, the avant-garde art movement that focused on distorted abstractions and gave intensity and movement through form and colour, but it’s also about the value of going outside of societal norms to embrace new opportunities and ways of seeing.  It gives the message that conformity may be soul stifling and that, when possibilities present, it is important to seize them as they provide chances to move into new worlds and enhance life. The book the child discovers takes them away temporarily but permanently enhances their world and consequently those of others to one of colour and vivacity. As all readers and art lovers know, art–written, visual and more–can give life and soul to those lost in mass existence, just as a book does for a child in Blue Rider.
From Blue Rider by Geraldo Valério

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