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Out to Sea
on July 21, 2009
As an artist, a lifelong student of archaeology, and a fan, I was eager to examine this book, having been impressed with David Macaulay's early efforts to contribute to children's literature. Along with his writing ability, it was the storytelling quality of his illustrations that drew me in. Here, I find the usual crisp storyline, and thoughtful approach to creating a graphic complement to the text. Regrettably, I also find that the integrity of thought is obscured in an apparent rush to get it all done for publication. Perspective in the drawings is inconsistent.
Images are crudely photographic, and short on the detail found in books like CASTLE and UNDERGROUND. An absence of playfulness, replete in the earlier tribute to archaeology, MOTEL OF THE MYSTERIES, entertaining to the maximum. Most disappointing, and baffling to boot, the watercolors have a messy texture that makes them look more amateurish than artistic in presentation. A dull procession of blobs and blurred lines.
It may be that other reviewers have encountered a different edition. I simply don't see a basis for lavishing superlatives, as I, myself, did, years back, reviewing Macaulay's work.
In sum, terrific archaeology, terrible art. Decidedly, SHIP is out to sea.