Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thoughts: Chalk and the psychotic little children

Several weeks ago I picked up the wordless picturebook Chalk by Bill Thomson.  And it is amazing and imaginative.  As an illustrator, Thomson amazes me with the way he shares different perspectives and shows people in motion.  To see some examples of the way he powerfully portrays some young athletes you can look at a couple of the previous books that he illustrated.

He's kind of a rock star.

Chalk shares about three children out on a rainy day who discover a bag of chalk.  By drawing on the wet pavement they realize that the things they draw can become real.  Of course, the kids realize there can be a bit of danger to this process when they draw a Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Here are a couple of the illustrations:

It's kind of like a new, shorter, wordless version of Harold and the Purple Crayon.

But what I want to focus on today, is this one image:

What a crazed-looking little girl.

I've seen similar expressions on *real* children.  I don't deny that in excitement, kids make the psychopathic faces.  I'm sure I've made some similar expressions of my own.  (Don't post them, people who have known me since I was six.  I know how to hunt you down!)

But it's so unusual to actually see such expressions on children in illustrations.

But I think 2010 is the year of the vaguely psychopathic looking child.  Because when I look at this historical mystery novel (which I'll admit, I haven't read yet, but is also getting some excellent reviews.  It re-imagines the youth of an amazing author), I can only assume that if this were a full-body illustration of Zora Neale Hurston or her fictional best friend, Carrie, from the story, it would reveal this girl to be wielding a knife at the reader:

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