Lane Smith is possibly best known in the UK for his collaborations with Jon Scieszka. Here he provides illustrations for Jory John’s tale of a day in the life of a world weary penguin (think Walter Matthau in grumpy mode). Jory’s story is mostly Penguin’s litany of complaints about his life: the weather (“It gets light way too early”), other penguins, the saltiness of the sea and the dangers of its predators, the silliness of his waddling walk, his flightlessness, and that nobody else cares about any of these problems. By far the longest speech in the book comes from a passing walrus who points out that, actually, Penguin has a lot to enjoy and be thankful for. This is the kind of cool sophisticated humour that seems distinctly American (The New Yorker, Jules Feiffer, Peanuts etc.), and which relies on dialogue and pictorial characterisation. Lane Smith’s illustrations focus on Penguin himself against a subtly textured white background. The components of the icy environment – the sea, mountains, sky, predators and walrus – are shown in rippled shades of blue in various intensities, and the sun appears indistinctly in dappled hazy yellow. Lane Smith’s characterisation of Penguin and his world somehow endorses neither Penguin’s view of life nor that of the walrus, maintaining the humorous ambivalence of the text. Even when you think that, post walrus, Penguin may have accepted that things are not so bad – “This is my only home, and this is my only life” – the final page pictures him as a tiny black silhouette on a mound of snow against a dark grey blizzard sky, complaining once again, “My beak is cold. It gets dark way too early.” This is humour that offers a warning against both morale sapping negativity and sentimental complacency, and maps out a space in which most of us make our lives.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png 0 0 Angie Hill http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png Angie Hill2017-01-05 17:40:002021-06-24 16:40:56Penguin Problems
Illustrator: Lane Smith