Maurice Maeterlinck's Blue Bird
Brian Wildsmith ~ Franklin Watts, 1976
This is what I get this week for stepping away from my decades of choice (60s-80s) and offering up picks from the 50s. That said, before I accidentally post anything else offensive again and get completely disheartened, I'm racing back to the 70s!!!!
(Let me just say, all I'm trying to do here by highlighting vintage books is bring a little of past illustrations and storytelling back. We all know sometimes there are portions of the past that are better left behind, and if those portions of that ugly past bleed onto this blog by accident, I apologize. All I am trying to do here is make people happy and remind them of books they might have forgotten. If for even one second I've made someone feel otherwise or done the opposite, then I have royally failed. But anyways...)
Based on a famous play, L'Oiseau Bleu, by a Belgian writer (who himself had lots of controversy, plagiarism and such... but we won't go there), I'm not focusing on the words as much as the pictures. Mainly because the story is pretty fantastical and abstract and I don't entirely understand it myself. My son loves it for the bird theme, but I doubt he could tell what it's about either. There's a witch-like old lady and a couple of children and some elements that come alive like fire and water and milk and bread. There's the search for the illusive bluebird of happiness. After 36 pages of the hunt, they finally catch him, only to discover...
Outside, the three children admired the Blue Bird. "There are bluer ones," said Tyltyl, but you can't catch them." "That doesn't matter," replied the little girl. "He's beautiful. May I hold him?" she asked. "Of course," said Tyltyl happily. But as he took the bird out of the cage, the bird escaped and flew away. "He's gone," sobbed the little girl. "He's gone." Tyltyl watched the bird disappear into the clouds and, with a mixture of happiness and sadness, said, "I know, but I'll catch another one for you."Ah, yes. The very thing we seek has been with us all along. Wildsmith's colors overwhelm in the best possible way here. His bold strokes and deep shades of turquoise, orange and mauve are eloquent. Fun geometric shapes so evocative of the times. They remind me of all the art books my parents had when I was little. I'd peruse them and wonder without ever fully understanding. Isn't memory bliss?
A Child's Garden of Verses
Professor Noah's Spaceship
Brian Wildsmith's Birds