Illus. in full color. The 15th century comes alive in this splendidly original picture book about Christopher Columbus. "The illustrations, executed in a variety of media, show scenes from the explorer's life as well as some imaginary creatures that populated the Europeans' picture of the outside world at that time. The details on each page invite individual readers to pay close attention, but the brief, clear text and framed illustrations lend themselves equally well to group sharing. Make room on your crowded Columbus shelf for this one."--(starred) School Library Journal.
Ages 5-9. This unusual picture book briefly describes the life of Columbus and illuminates it with stunning artwork. Reminiscent of Renaissance paintings, engravings, and (especially) maps, the illustrations combine the naive and the surreal in a very individual, sometimes haunting, way. The medium is "oil, ink and watercolor, and gouache . . . following a technique similar to fresco painting." Though misleading readers somewhat by implying that only Columbus believed the Indies could be reached by sailing west, Sis gives a fair summary of Columbus' life. The story begins with his childhood dreams of adventure and ends with his landing in what he believed to be the Orient. The book's abrupt ending sentence, "Columbus, however, never really knew that he had reached `America,'" raises more questions than it answers. Still, this is a good book to share on Columbus Day, primarily for the beauty and originality of Sis' artwork.
The text of this brief examination of the life of Christopher Columbus is smoothly written and informative, but it is Sis's illustrations that make the book so distinctive. His pictures extend the narrative, vividly rendering on oversize, intricate pages Columbus's vision of a new world. This volume will be welcomed for its simplicity, energy, and idealism.
A brief, straightforward, uncontroversial summary of the events leading up to Columbus's first voyage and of the outward voyage itself--a book that serves to caption a series of dreamlike, highly imaginative illustrations blending the visual inspiration of 15th-century maps with this gifted Czech artist's perception of his own emigration as an escape from Europe's encircling walls. Stone walls are a unifying theme here, appearing as curtains around the first scene, as background in an album-like book displaying scenes from Columbus's childhood, as the surface over which the boy imagines sailing as he dreams of Marco Polo, or as the border of a glowing map of the known world, its only aperture opening off the page's edge to the west. Meanwhile, Sis makes fine decorative use of other motifs: sea monsters, starry skies and distant vistas, nautical instruments and ships. Contrasting meticulous detail with generously open space--delicately textured or luminous with color--is characteristic of Sis's work; here, style and theme are integrated in the splendid art. An unusually creative addition to the rapidly growing stack of books on Columbus.