PreSchool-Grade 3–Imagination and creativity are quietly, but fantastically, at work here. Stanley goes for a drive in his pickup on a hot, dry day when there isn't a cloud in the sky. "The pond was so dry that it couldn't even make a reflection." Suddenly, he sees a black-and-white spotted cow amid a herd of black bovines. He milks it, and the spots drain off. He tosses the milk into the sky, where it forms puffy white clouds that darken and pour rain. The earth turns green, the pond fills up, the air cools down, and Stanley heads home. Life has returned to normal. The brevity of the text and the simplicity of the illustrations create a fine-tuned balance. Hand-drawn and colored on the computer, the graphics are reminiscent of 1950s advertisements. Crisp, clean edges contain the flat color. The limited palette is powerful: warm browns and oranges heat up the beginning pages; monochromatic greens cool and refresh the final ones. The masterful use of composition surprises readers with large shapes in the foreground that contrast with small, multiple figures in the background to create asymmetric balance and depth, drawing viewers in from near to far. Repetition of shapes and color provides a rhythmic flow and continuity throughout. Children will read both pictures and words in this visually outstanding work and then use their imaginations to drive beyond them.–Carolyn Janssen, Children's Learning Center of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH
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Picture books aren't just about pictures. As such adepts as Margaret Wise Brown, Byron Barton and Molly Bang have shown, the words are important too especially since there are, or should be, so few of them (Bang's brilliant Yellow Ball
has just 28). Vocabulary, rhythm, placement on the page are all crucial. In his first children's book, graphic designer Craig Frazier makes the tricky art of marrying words and pictures look deceptively easy. When "Stanley set out for a drive with little on his mind" the single, inviting sentence on the first double page spread the world he sees is as empty and dry as his imagination, done in black, dusty browns and desiccated reds. But then, "Stanley passed a herd of cows. His eye caught by a cows bright, milk-white patches, "Stanley had an idea" that would change everything. In a dizzying chain reaction of creativity, he milks the cow, its patches become milk, the milk becomes clouds. Finally, "the clouds began to pour." As Stanley drives home, the pages, like his thoughts and spirits, have been struck green. The cow has just one apt word for this miraculous transformation: "Mooo." -The Washington Post
Frazier's (The Illustrated Voice) graphically expressive debut children's title innocuously begins as the story of a man and his truck on a searing, dusty day. But it soon sheds its initial pragmatism for a dreamlike flight of fancy. Reflecting the author's background in design and illustration, the full bleed, digitally colored artwork consists of simple form and silhouettes with occasional pixel like shadows suggesting three dimensionality. Stanley, a typical Frazier figure, "[sets] out on a drive with little on his mind" in his red, vintage pickup truck, sporting a vest, shirtsleeves and brimmed hat. Austere sentences underscore the normalcy: "There wasn't a cloud in the sky, just the baking hot sun....The pond was so dry that it couldn't even make a reflection." Passing a herd of black cows, however Stanley brings his truck to a halt; he approaches the lone spotted one with buckets, a stool and "an idea." After milking the animal, he tosses the buckets' contents into the air, and the milk fluidly morphs into clouds A storm brings rain and respite, transforming the parched and yellowed landscape into a verdant wonderland. The theme of finding magic in the mundane should appeal to readers of all ages who are perhaps already familiar with the enchantments that can be found in a seemingly ordinary day in the country. --Publishers Weekly
When Stanley goes for a drive in his old red pickup on a dried out, brown as dirt summer day, he's not thinking about much. Until, that is, he spies a black and white spotted cow on the side of the road. He milks the cow, and, magically, the milk from his buckets floats up and materializes as white clouds in the sky, taking the same shapes as the cow's spots. The clouds start to pour (rain, not milk) and the palette of the landscape turns from brown to green. Frazier, a renowned graphic artist, tells his story with color and shape; in a sense, the story is about the perception of color and shape. The appealing, crisp computer graphics (the art is hand drawn and colored on a computer) also evoke old fashioned silhouette art, and a variety of offbeat perspectives force readers to focus on details they might normally overlook. Reading this unusual, visually intriguing story is like examining a surrealist painting where something shifts inexplicably as one watches. Children may never view a spotted cow the same way again. --Kirkus Reviews
"Picture books aren't just about pictures. As such adepts as Margaret Wise Brown, Byron Barton and Molly Bang have shown, the words are important, too--especially since there are, or should be, so few of them (Bang's brilliant Yellow Ball gas just 28). Vocabulary, rhythm, placement on the page all are crucial. In his first childrens' book, graphic designer Craig Frazier makes the tri