Awake Beautiful Child
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by Gracia Lam
Published by McSweeney’s, 2015
The draw of Awake Beautiful Child is undoubtedly the gorgeous graphic illustrations by Gracia Lam, which owe some debt to the great Paul Rand and his brethren. Muted colours, clean lines and a great feeling of movement give the pictures a real sense of whimsy. Unfortunately, the text, by the normally reliable Amy Krouse Rosenthal (her Little Pea / Little Oink / Little Hoot are modern classics) is uninspired; the book is made up of three-word phrases (made up of words beginning with the letters A, B and C) that allow for no narrative flow or cohesion. (There is an effort to create short stories in the book, roughly three spreads long each, coded by colour, but it’s frankly not enough.) They might be interesting doodle starters (and they’ve certainly inspired Lam to do some great work) but they don’t exactly make for a compelling read.
That said, the artwork is enough to recommend this book, especially for design lovers. You might find yourself tempted to cut the book up and frame the pages as nursery decoration… (Not a bad idea, actually.)
It’s also hard to not notice that, despite there being a large number of different characters represented int he book, there is not one of colour. It’s a bit disappointing, especially considering the recent and welcome trend towards diversity in children’s literature. It would have been so easy in this one…
Kinderlit requested and received a copy of Awake Beautiful Child in exchange for an honest review. Read more about our review policy HERE.