June 05, 2019

Sockeye Silver, Saltchuck Blue

Illustrated by Roy Henry Vickers
Text by Robert Budd
Harbour Publishing
978-1-55017-870-8
20 pp.
Ages 2-6
May 2019

By their very nature, concept books i.e. those that teach concepts such as letters, numbers and colours must be simple in order for very young children to grasp the concept being highlighted. By simple, I mean straightforward and transparent, though some concept books embrace the idea of simplicity by being meagre and plain. Not Sockeye Silver, Saltchuck Blue.  It may focus on presenting a basic palette to children but it proclaims its artistry in a brilliance of sophistication and heritage.

The colours of silver, blue, yellow, purple, red, orange, grey, black, white and green are clearly identified in each illustration but they are so much more than "just" a colour. They are part of the landscape of the Pacific Northwest. Its flora and fauna, its mountains and ocean, and its seasons become part of the art. From the "sockeye silver" of the adult salmon at sea, glorious under a silver moon, to the blue of the saltchuck waters flowing into a river and the yellow of the spring salmonberries, Sockeye Silver, Saltchuck Blue becomes a journey of place and seasons. Young readers will spot the purple sea stars resting on a rock, the red of the sunset, the sandhill cranes flying across an orange sky, and the whales in the grey mist of heavy rains. There are ravens black and a white ptarmigan in the snow, and the finale spread of "green lights aglow on a wintry night."
From Sockeye Silver, Saltchuck Blue, illustrated by Roy Henry Vickers, words by Robert Budd
 
The words are those of Robert Budd, accomplished author and champion of British Columbia's stories and history. They are concise but impactful, and any child living far from the BC coast will want to visit.

But the art makes Sockeye Silver, Saltchuck Blue the masterpiece it is. There is movement and richness in the colours, and the spot-gloss art is significant and memorable. Sometimes the glossy entity is bold and unmistakable, as in the black of the raven or the wolves howling beneath the northern lights. Other times, however, it almost can only be discerned by touch such as the thunderbird against the white snow or the totem poles hugging the coast of the saltchuck.

Roy Henry Vickers is a multi-talented Tsimshian artist who has excelled at printmaking, carving, music and leadership. His accomplishments have earned him many honours and even more accolades at home in British Columbia and around the world. With his gorgeous prints providing the art for Sockeye Silver, Saltchuck Blue, this concept book is elevated from teaching tool to showpiece.
From Sockeye Silver, Saltchuck Blue, illustrated by Roy Henry Vickers, words by Robert Budd
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Look for my next post which will highlight the earlier two books in this series, Hello Humpback! and One Eagle Soaring.
First West Coast Books

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for your wonderful review, it inspires!

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    1. You are most welcome. It was my distinct pleasure to review it.

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  2. It's a particularly rewarding project as I'm partially colour blind.

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    1. Astounding! Your use of colours along with line and shape brings the art to life. It is bold and effective for a concept book.

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  3. A children's book illustrated by Roy Henry Vickers would be a treasure to own at any age.

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    1. I agree! All ages would appreciate the artistry within, Darlene.

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