Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Nancy Willard & illustrated by Leo Dillon & Diane Dillon & Lee Dillon

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-15-262210-1
Publisher: Harcourt

Bosch, the late-medieval Dutch artist, painted extraordinary surreal scenes, their whimsical details meticulously depicted. Willard imagines that Bosch's house is crowded with his own fantastical creatures, driving his housekeeper wild with :three- legged thistles asleep in my wash" and a dragon to " get to my sink"; meanwhile, the insouciant Hieronymus gazes abstractedly at the mayhem, palette in hand. The housekeeper flees, only to find that she misses the excitement; fortunately, her trunk contains some of the weird creations, including a "pickle-winged fish" on which she rides home to a loving welcome and the promise of more help—''till death do us part'' (a mellower feminist message than that in Anthony Browne's Piggybook, 1986, and even more imaginative). Willard wraps this gossamer plot in enchantingly musical, comical verse ("In this vale of tears we must take what we're sent,/Feathery, leathery, lovely, or bent"). The Dillons now include son Lee, who provides an elaborate frame sculpted in silver, brass, and bronze for the paintings, to which he also contributed. His bronze figures peer in astonishment at the marvelous action within the frame, painted with a Bosch-like precision and irrepressible invention; additional drawings and a beautifully hand-lettered text also contribute to the lovely, spacious format. Like Bosch's menage, this may not suit quite everyone; but, for those with minds and hearts open to its wit, artistry, and merriment, a rare delight. (Picture book. 4+)