June 13, 2020

Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak

Illustrated by Roy Henry Vickers
Text by Robert Budd
Harbour Publishing
20 pp.
Ages 2-6
June 2020

If you’re going to introduce the mooing of a cow and the quacking of a duck to young children, be sure to expose them to the symphony of the Northwest Coast’s landscape for a sonorous sensory experience evoked by Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd in their fourth book in their First West Coast book series.
From Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak, art by Roy Henry Vickers, text by Robert Budd
As in their earlier concept books in this series, Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd have blended rich graphics with simple words evocative of a beautiful British Columbia environment. There are rivers that rush with whisper and splash; drummers that beat with boom, bang, and pound; cedars that rustle with a murmur and a creak; and geese that fly high with honk, hiss and flap. There are people and places, animals and nature: living, moving, resonating with energy, both subtle and blaring.

From Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak, art by Roy Henry Vickers, text by Robert Budd
If you close your eyes, Robert “Lucky” Budd’s words embed you on the BC coast, hearing, sensing, experiencing its many, many glorious attributes. (In my interview tomorrow with the author and artist, Robert Budd tells how their final double spread was used to pack in the sounds of another twelve animals under the text “with Nature Singing all around”.) The rolling water against a boat or a shore, the overhanging trees, the animals on land, in water, and in the air, while people interact with the natural environment–it’s the life and sound of this place.

Artist Roy Henry Vickers does more than do justice to the text; he conjures it with depth and layers and authority. From the coniferous forests and snow-capped peaks, to waters still and turbulent, and creatures engaged with their worlds, all enriched with spot-gloss elements, Roy Henry Vickers uses strong lines and shape to transport the reader to this place. The art reflects and honours his First Nations heritage and shares it with readers.

From Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak, art by Roy Henry Vickers, text by Robert Budd
Whether the readers are the very young who will recognize the images, rich in their simplicity, and vocalize sounds depicted within, or adults who will revel in the heart of the art and words, Roy Henry Vickers and Robert Budd have brought the spirit of the West Coast to the page once again.

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Look for my interview with Roy Henry Vickers and Robert "Lucky" Budd tomorrow here on CanLit for Little Canadians.

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Check out all four books in the First West Coast book series which includes:
 Hello Humpback! (2017)
and now
Raven Squawk, Orca Squeak

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