Miriam Drennan

This month, David Wiesner's Sector 7 softly breezes into bookstores and libraries, taking readers on a tour of the cloud industry. Wiesner, a Caldecott medalist, has been interested in telling stories with pictures since his teen years, when he enjoyed wordless comic books and silent movies. "I think early on it was clear that my interest was telling stories with pictures, not just painting a picture. To me, it was more interesting to actually do a series, because if I came up with a character or place that I liked, I wanted to spend more time either in that place or with that character. So actually, telling stories with pictures was very appealing."

With comic books, "I certainly read the stories and got into what was going on, but what I really found exciting was the way the stories were told pictorially, using the panel format to do all sorts of incredible things: pressing time or expanding it, using an entire page of little panels to take a rather small action and stretch it out, almost like slow motion. One of the turning points for me was when [I came across] a comic book artist who would occasionally put into the story several pages with no words, telling the story with pictures.

"And I thought this was the greatest thing I'd ever seen. There's always slam! bang! pow! stuff going on, word balloons everywhere. But here there was this calm, quiet interlude, with just pictures. What really fascinated me was the way he was conveying information with just pictures, using close-ups, moving away to a long shot, to speak of it in film terms. As I came across more examples of wordless storytelling over the years, it just took hold of me. My senior degree project was a 48-page, wordless picture book where I took a story by fantasy writer Fritz Lieber and told it in wordless format. It was an incredible learning experience."

Part of that experience certainly included editing. Conceptually, editing text and dialogue is easy to grasp, but how does one edit pictures? "Visual editing involves discovering the way to break up the rhythm of the book; the way your eye tracks across the page, for example. Some of my books are very dense with information, with big double-page spreads that have a lot going on. You really have to sit and look very carefully. Then you can get to a page, like in Tuesday, where the frogs are flying up in the air, and there's a panel where they're spinning somersaults and flying into the town, chasing the birds, really moving quickly across the page. So taking into account how your eye is going to read the position plays into it, too. That's really the first place I try to work those things out."

Wiesner's ideas bloom differently, but all are planted in his sketchbook. His second Cricket magazine cover, for example, eventually blossomed into the book known as Tuesday.

"I was working on the March cover, and two themes in this particular issue were St. Patrick's Day and frogs—a lot of green. St. Patrick's Day didn't seem all that interesting, so I thought I'd do something with frogs. All my books start in my sketchbooks, and the frogs were very interesting and fun to draw. They're very squishy and bumpy, very odd-looking things." Reminiscent of 1950s science fiction/flying saucer movies, "[the lilypad] became a sort of magic carpet, flying around. So I did the cover, and I liked the painting. But once again, I wanted to spend more time with what I created. I thought more and more about flying frogs, and started seeing frogs in front of the TV, chasing the dog, floating by the window, etc. And I just organized them, and they created this sequence. It came together incredibly fast. In that case, it grew out of this sort of arbitrary suggestion."

June 29, 1999, however, originated from a drawing that had lingered in his sketchbook. The image was part of some samples Wiesner had drawn for his portfolio to submit to various publishers. "There was a lot of folktale stuff, like wizards, for example. And I had a bunch of stuff in the back that were things I really wanted to do, including a painting of a large pepper floating in the sky in this field, with all these people with wires, trying to pull it down. And art directors and editors would get to these items and say, 'What is this?'" he laughs.

Wiesner would glance at this particular image periodically for the next 11 years. "I wasn't forcing anything. I was kind of waiting for it to reveal to me what it was about. After I finished Tuesday, I was looking at it again, and I wondered why had I envisioned them floating down? Maybe something went up first. Sector 7 also started out as a drawing that I needed to work my way through."

 

 

This month, David Wiesner's Sector 7 softly breezes into bookstores and libraries, taking readers on a tour of the cloud industry. Wiesner, a Caldecott medalist, has been interested in telling stories with pictures since his teen years, when he enjoyed wordless comic books and silent movies. "I think early on it was clear that my […]

One sure way to give your child a head start on a successful school year is to stock your home bookshelves with up-to-date, reliable reference material. Whether your student is tackling a spelling test, a term paper or a creative writing assignment, an excellent dictionary is an indispensable tool.

The most popular choice is the college dictionary, aimed at students (from high school to graduate level), but also widely used in the home and office. This year, the college dictionary market includes a new competitor: the Microsoft Encarta College Dictionary, released in July. Billed as “the first dictionary for the Internet age,” the Encarta dictionary is also the biggest in its category, with more than 320,000 entries. A previous dictionary created by the same team, the Encarta World English Dictionary, provoked an uproar when it was published in 1999 with the stated goal of capturing the English language as it is spoken all over the world. The new Encarta College Dictionary takes a more traditional approach, sticking with American English, and using the opinions of American college professors on questions of usage. The new volume includes several helpful features, such as Spellcheck (common spelling errors), Quick Facts, Correct Usage and Literary Links, which are interspersed with the definitions. In tackling the college dictionary market, the Encarta entry faces competition from four long-time favorites that dominate the category. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th edition is the best-selling dictionary in America, known for its clarity and reliability. Noah Webster wrote the first American dictionary in 1806, and the Merriam brothers later bought the rights to his work. Merriam-Webster is thus the true heir to Noah Webster's achievement, but the name Webster, having become synonymous with dictionary, has entered the public domain and is freely used in many titles. Take for example, Webster's New World College Dictionary, fourth edition. No Webster was involved in compiling this volume, but it has become an authoritative source for journalists and writers, as well as students. Many organizations, including the Associated Press and The New York Times, use Webster's New World College Dictionary as their official standard on matters of spelling and usage.

Two other top college dictionaries to consider for your budding scholar are Random House Webster's College Dictionary, 2001 edition and American Heritage College Dictionary, third edition. Random House updates its college dictionary each year, and the 2001 edition includes more than 100 new words everything from DSL (digital subscriber line) to hottie (a sexually attractive person). The American Heritage College Dictionary includes interesting asides on word histories and regional usage, as well as an attractive design with numerous illustrations and maps.

One sure way to give your child a head start on a successful school year is to stock your home bookshelves with up-to-date, reliable reference material. Whether your student is tackling a spelling test, a term paper or a creative writing assignment, an excellent dictionary is an indispensable tool. The most popular choice is the […]

Back to where they once belonged: the Beatles score more hits There are at least a dozen clever and cute ways I thought about starting this piece. When I had four books to cover, a play on ÔFab Four' came to mind; soon enough, however, more books came rolling in, so that idea was a goner. Then there was the idea to open with some sort of reference to the Beatles being Ôhere, there, and everywhere,' but that idea was quickly snapped up for the cover. Of course, lifting a phrase from “Paperback Writer” was a given. So, get ready folks, Here Comes the Pun . . . .

Sorry. I just couldn't resist.

The truth of the matter is, no introduction can briefly explain and justify the 40-year phenomenon that surrounds this band. Whether we loved them as suited mop-tops, psychedelic hippies, or as Paul McCartney's band before Wings, the Beatles are once again making chart-topper history. And this time, they're going after the bestseller lists.

The biggest Beatle book this season by far is The Beatles Anthology. What makes this book so special is that it was written by John (yes, John), Paul, George, and Ringo, with a little help from their friends. Be prepared for stimulation overload: hundreds of photos, lots of text, and snappy graphics and design makes this more of a textbook worthy of study than a book one politely flips through while waiting patiently for a friend to finish her unexpected phone call. Set aside a lot of time for The Beatles Anthology; it deserves your attention and you will want to savor its offerings instead of gulping them. Photos never before seen in print, anecdotes and memorabilia unearthed and assembled, finally, finally available in one package. Year by year, different perspectives are offered on all sorts of events and happenings. Frame by frame, photos reveal the Beatles effect on and response to these events and happenings; it's rather like operating a time machine. For example, one photograph shows the Fab Four crunched in a single-file line; at a glance, Beatle- philes will know this is seconds before they cross Abbey Road and add fuel to the “Paul is dead” rumors. The Beatles Anthology was obviously a painstaking endeavor how in the world did they find all this stuff? but the result is about as exhaustive as can be offered in a single volume. With all the commentaries and accounts that have been written about the Beatles over the years, it's nice to have the lads telling their own story for a change.

Though I myself am partial to George, Paul is still the clear favorite, even among books. Two recent releases are very different in nature but offering charming observations about the incredibly talented Sir Paul McCartney. The first, Paul McCartney: I Saw Him Standing There is a collection of post-Beatle photographs compiled by Jorie B. Gracen, who has photographed McCartney for nearly 25 years. This is a carefully crafted book, as Gracen recounts the circumstances surrounding each photograph and provides mementos that accent her images. Her unique access to McCartney captures Paul, the husband; Paul, the father; and ultimately, Paul the performer (so up-close you may feel the urge to dab his sweaty brow with a cloth). One of only two women whose photographs have been used on a McCartney album cover, Gracen is publishing many of her exclusive photographs for the very first time. The second book is Bulfinch Press's Paul McCartney: Paintings. Until recently, McCartney elected to keep his painting a private outlet for him to escape the world's doldrums and fulfill his creative need in a different way. The result is startling; McCartney has received critical acclaim for his work, which ranges from dark and sinister to fun and whimsical. Interviews and commentary complement the plates, and a great deal of attention is given to friend Willem de Kooning's influence on McCartney's work. Perhaps the most endearing aspect of this beautiful book is Linda McCartney's photography showing painter Paul in his studio, as she captures the love that is reflected on both sides of her camera.

Think you could be a contender on an all-Beatles episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Test your Beatles savvy with The Ultimate Beatles Quiz Book II. Michael J. Hockinson offers the ultimate in Beatles trivia; this is not just “name Ringo's eldest child” kind of stuff, this is hard core and nit-picky. Which star did John Lennon publicly reveal he'd like to manage? What was to be the title of the novel Stu Sutcliffe was writing? Beginning with the year 1100 (no typo here, folks yes, the year 1100) and ending with 1999, Hockinson carefully takes us on a yearly journey of information, reincarnated information whose previous fate had probably been either footnotes or editors' pens. To tweak the noses of Beatle buffs even more, Hockinson tells much more when he offers the answers at the end of each chapter. Even if you have every fanzine article ever published about Liverpool's most famous sons, you're bound to learn something more here. So you thought you'd seen the last of the Fab Four? You Should Have Known Better.

Say the word If you find yourself singing, “give me more, give me more, give me more,” then check out these other Beatle-related titles: ¥ She Came in Through the Kitchen Window is a cookbook with recipes glibly named “Any Thyme At All,” “Ticket to Rice,” etc. Goofy fun for fab cooks who are wild about the fab four.

Linda McCartney: A Portrait, a chatty commentary written by close friend Danny Fields.

Yes Yoko Ono, a gorgeously bound book of Yoko's artwork, includes CD.

In My Life: The Brian Epstein Story by Debbie Geller, available in December, is a collection of first-hand accounts of the haunting life of the Beatles' troubled but brilliant manager. ¥ The Beatles Complete Scores consists of over 1,000 pages, with full scores and lyrics to over 200 titles. Photos and discography included.

Back to where they once belonged: the Beatles score more hits There are at least a dozen clever and cute ways I thought about starting this piece. When I had four books to cover, a play on ÔFab Four' came to mind; soon enough, however, more books came rolling in, so that idea was a […]

Back to where they once belonged: the Beatles score more hits There are at least a dozen clever and cute ways I thought about starting this piece. When I had four books to cover, a play on

Back to where they once belonged: the Beatles score more hits There are at least a dozen clever and cute ways I thought about starting this piece. When I had four books to cover, a play on

Back to where they once belonged: the Beatles score more hits There are at least a dozen clever and cute ways I thought about starting this piece. When I had four books to cover, a play on

Back to where they once belonged: the Beatles score more hits There are at least a dozen clever and cute ways I thought about starting this piece. When I had four books to cover, a play on

Back to where they once belonged: the Beatles score more hits There are at least a dozen clever and cute ways I thought about starting this piece. When I had four books to cover, a play on

Back to where they once belonged: the Beatles score more hits There are at least a dozen clever and cute ways I thought about starting this piece. When I had four books to cover, a play on

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