Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The Sounds of the City
Symphony City by Amy Martin is, to put an already-overused term to work again, visually stunning. From the endpapers with overlapping circles of color to the black-white-taupe-and-red first page to the spreads with tree branches outlined against brick buildings, every page is gorgeous. She uses both line and color in bold, eye-grabbing ways as she tells the story of a lost little girl following the music she hears in the city, from musicians playing at the subway station to those practicing in their apartments.
The book opens with that little girl getting separated from her mother. Her mother boards the subway and the little girl loses her grasp of her mother's hand and fails to get on the train with her. This scenario is probably one of my children's (and my) worst nightmares. If you are reading this to a sensitive city child, I'd expect, at a minimum, a lot of questions.
I think this book, like Frank Viva's Along a Long Road, another triumph of illustration, would be better if it were wordless. I don't think the text adds all that much to the story and in some ways takes attention away from the illustrations.
Ultimately, though, this book is simply so beautiful to look at that it is worth picking up, despite my reservations.