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August 23, 2010

New Books: Chalk

I've mentioned once before how magical a wordless picture book by an accomplished illustrator can be, and thanks to the generosity of our friend Tanya, we've just encountered one that both my sons are currently crazy about—Chalk, by Bill Thomson. (Somehow we missed it when it first came out early in the year, so I'm especially grateful to her for bringing it to our attention!)

The story is straightfoward: Three kids discover that their sidewalk chalk drawings are coming to life—good when one girl draws a bunch of beautiful butterflies, less so when a boy (natch) draws a T. rex. But it's told via a series of drop-dead-gorgeous illustrations that look so photorealistic, it's hard to believe at first that they're illustrations. (There's a note at the back assuring readers that they are, in fact, drawn, and Thomson even details his fascinating process for achieving such realistic detail, complete with his remarkable sketches for Chalk, on the publisher's website.)

It isn't simply that the art is stunning, though; Thomson does a fantastic job of telling the story without a single word. The result is a quietly masterful page turner of a picture book that, if my kids are any indication at all, will have yours obsessed in short order.

[Cover image courtesy of Marshall Cavendish]

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