Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Carousel - Ursula Dubosarsky and Walter Di Qual

If you know Ursula Dubosarsky’s work, your eyes will light up when you hear she has produced a new one. Her track record for representing the interior world of the child is well established, and can be evidenced in the wake of her extensive collection of fiction and nonfiction. Her capacity for delving into the machinations of a child’s imagination is demonstrated exquisitely in The Carousel.
When a small girl rides on a carousel, she becomes so entranced by the experience that the edges of her reality blur into a delicious world of fantasy. Her wooden horse is infused with life as the carousel whirls into motion; the girl’s focus shifts from her father on the sidelines to her relationship with the horse in a magical world that allows them to be ‘free as wind and hurtle through the wild sky’.
The Carousel is a stirring story, enchanting and passionate. It is a celebration of wild abandon, of being transported to a state of being where everything else is forgotten and anything is possible. The book is suffused with a richness of symbolism and imagery. There is poignancy in the anticipation of the ride – the girl, ticket in hand at the gate – and in her disappointment when the carousel begins to slow, but more so, at the end of the ride, in her desperate wish for the wooden horses to be set free. Walter Di Qual is a newcomer to book illustrating. His distinctive depictions of the story in mixed media on Fabriano paper take the text to another level and infuse the characters with depth and vibrancy. His evocative portrayal of the horse and the girl range from tender, to baleful, to feisty.
The Carousel is dream-like, limitless. It is as veiled and ethereal as it is unbridled and jubilant. Written in rhyme and meter in constrained quatrains of iambic tetrameter, an almost restless contrast is established between the free-spiritedness of the story-line and illustrations and the verse.
This delightful read-aloud picture-story book, in which a small girl on her horse dares to hope and dream, invites readers to search for the imagination within themselves. It is engaging and enlivening and will appeal to young readers and their teachers and parents alike. Older children will enjoy the story and its themes of freedom and enchantment at a different level. Highly recommended.
Penguin 2011
(A version of this review appears in Magpies Vol 26, Issue 5, November 2011)

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