Monday, April 6, 2009
Review #22: Adam Raccoon at Forever Falls
Dad: Happy Easter week! We just read Adam Raccoon...
Gracie (age 8): ...at Forever Falls. I love Adam Raccoon. He's so cute! There's a whole series of Adam Raccoon books.
Dad: I think we're only missing one. There's one about playing soccer that we don't have.
Gracie: Awww! I love soccer! I want to see that book.
Dad: These are written and illustrated by Glen Keane. And truly, Glen Keane is my favorite artist on the entire planet.
Isaac (age 10): What if he's in outer space right now?
Gracie: Dad! How could you say that, right in front of yourself!?
Dad: Ha... I'm not my own favorite artist! Now, Glen Keane is not typically known for children's books. He is a well-known, well-loved animator.
Gracie: A movie person?
Dad: Yeah - animation. Like when you guys made flipbooks the other day. But he makes big "flipbooks" that are actually movies. Glen Keane is the artist who animated Beast in "Beauty and the Beast" and Ariel in "The Little Mermaid" and the character Aladdin in "Aladdin"...
Isaac: Those are big flipbooks! Those are two-hour shows!
Dad: ...and he did the eagle in "Rescuers Down Under" and Silver in "Treasure Planet" and Tarzan in "Tarzan." Remember that sketchy picture of the Beast I have up next to my drawing table? That's a copy of a picture Glen Keane drew. See how in "Forever Falls" he uses big, thick, smudgy pencils in his illustrations? That's the same thing he uses for his animation.
Isaac: I want to get one. I want his big, smudgy pencil!
Dad: His illustrations are loose and sketchy because he's used to drawing fast for animation. Hundreds and thousands of pictures.
Lily (age 6): You mean he's speed drawing?
Dad: So, I told you about Mr. Keane. Now, you tell me about Adam Raccoon.
Lily: He's a terror!
(laughter by all)
Dad: I don't think he's a "terror"! He's more... mischievous.
Isaac: Adam Raccoon is really mischievous, and he likes sparkly things.
Gracie: I like sparkly things too.
Lily: And he likes swimming.
Gracie: I love swimming!
Isaac: That's one of my favorite things to do.
Lily: Me too.
Isaac: And he likes cookies - but that's a different book. There is also a lion character that is the king.
Lily: King Aren.
Isaac: Adam finds a pond that he's not allowed to go in.
Lily: No swimming! Because the swimming hole was deathly!
Lily: Deadly. He did not obey.
Isaac: A bird says, "Go in that pond," and Adam goes in the pond.
Lily: It was beautiful, and he thought he could stay in there forever. But the river swept and sweeped him away!
Isaac: He's going to go off the waterfall. While he's falling off the waterfall, King Aren jumps into the river and throws Adam to shore...
Lily: Oh my goodness -- he has a big throw.
Isaac: ...and King Aren falls off the waterfall instead.
Lily: He went over the waterfall into the deep. Adam felt bad and sad. Then King Aren shot out of the bushes!
Isaac: He's still alive.
Lily: And Adam felt happy, excited, glad!
Gracie: This book is fun.
Lily: I like it because there's duckies in it.
Dad: When I teach art lessons, this is one of the books I will always, always show when I talk about Color. It is the best book for teaching how artists can use color to influence emotions. What colors do you see when Adam is safe and calm and fine?
Gracie: Everything is blue.
Isaac: Blue and green.
Dad: What happens to the sky as soon as Adam starts to get into trouble?
Isaac: And yel-l-l-l-l-low.
Dad: As he gets closer to the falls, those "danger colors" start taking over the blues. See how much orange and red is in the water now...
Dad: And at the climax when they're finally going over the falls: Even though the background is totally sky and water, is there any blue used at all?
Lily: All pink and red!
Dad: Then, what immediately happens to the colors when Adam is safe and King Aren disappears? Where did all the reds and yellows go?
Gracie: They got soaked up by sadness.
Isaac: It's all greens and purples and blues.
Gracie: Even the flowers are sad.
Dad: And when King Aren shows back up?
Lily: Happiness. Yellow and orange.
Dad: You don't even notice any of this while you read, but it helps guide your emotions. An artist still could have used blues and purples at the reunion scene, but it wouldn't have seemed as happy.
Gracie: Forever Falls aren't scary anymore!
Isaac: This story is kind of like Adam and Eve.
Dad: Do you think that's why... his... name... is.....
Dad: It never dawned on you before, did it? You didn't even make the connection while you were saying it! But now the lightbulb goes on.
Gracie: In the Bible, Adam was the very first man. In this book he... must be the very first raccoon.
Dad: Ha ha... I don't think he's the very first raccoon. But he represents us.
Gracie: Adam represents Adam. And us!
Dad: He's kind of like a kid, isn't he.
Isaac: And the king is supposed to represent God? The lion?
Lily: Because God takes care of us, and He looks after us all the time because He's everywhere. You know... we could be sitting on God right now...
Gracie: The bird was tempting Adam to go into the water. So that one must be the serpent, only he's a bird.
Lily: That IS the serpent!
Gracie: What do those ducks symbolize?
Dad: Not everything represents something else. Hey, do you remember what we call the lessons Jesus taught when He told stories?
Dad: So, why did I pick this for our Easter story?
Isaac: Because it's about Salvation.
Dad: Right! The text doesn't ever say "salvation," but we sure can learn about it through the storytelling.
Isaac: I get this story now! I know how this relates.
Gracie: It's just like how Jesus gave His life for us! King Aren threw Adam onto shore, but then he fell. He traded his life for Adam. Just like Jesus died for us, in our place.
Isaac: We all are sinners, like when Adam was falling off the cliff. But Jesus saved us, He died for our sins, and He came back to life.
Dad: Books with crosses and tombs might do a good job of relating the details of the Easter story. But I can't think of a single picture book that does a better job of conveying the meaning of the Easter story. Rescue from disobedience and death.
Gracie: It's an important book.
Author/Illustrator: Glen Keane
Published, 1987: Chariot Books
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