The River: Something Strange and Something Beautiful

As if we needed more proof that picture books are not just for kids.  Along comes traipsing The River by Alessandro Sanna.  It’s a wordless wonder. I was struck immediately how art transcends culture so often.  Part of the beauty of wordless books is that the story is the same in Mumbai as it is in Miami. This title was created by an Italian artist who uses watercolors to illustrate the dramatic changes of life on a river over the course of a year.

I looked at the first few pages with my brow furrowed, seeing if I could get used to the dark, undulating painted water and sky and simple blobs for concrete objects.  But what I found after my initial skepticism gave way to the turning of each page… was kind of, sort of special. I just surrendered to a style that was not initially in my comfort zone of favorites and became engrossed in the passing scenery and brilliant use of light… like I was floating along in a hot air balloon just watching.  Outside perspective, unobtrusive. Nothing in your face or giving the first-person intimacy technique like some illustrations employ. Detached, the images still beckoned.

I especially liked how Sanna chose his springtime color motif. Not your typical pastels, but the bold violets of a crispy sunset and the hint of color in a semi-limited palette really will resonate with those Northern Hemisphere readers who don’t really experience “spring” until something like June.
The River is something different. It’s something that evokes the word beauty… but not in a way you necessarily anticipate in a traditional way… and I like that in a book.

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4 thoughts on “The River: Something Strange and Something Beautiful

  1. Ellie

    Ah, I confess! After my diatribe against the library… I admit to going back on occasion and getting new or needed homeschooling books. 😉

  2. Lauren Frisch

    I'm going to admit I still don't love wordless books, but they are growing on me. They make you work so much harder for the story. 😉 I love that you keep posting great examples!

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