LOUISE LOVES ART BY KELLY LIGHT IS NOW IN BOOKSTORES!!
I preordered Kelly Light’s debut picture book, Louise Loves Art, in August. I had seen Louise’s big red glasses and lanky gray cat all over The Horn Book magazine, Publisher’s Weekly, everywhere there could possibly be an announcement of the exciting new picture books for fall.
I had the opportunity to meet Kelly approximately two and a half times: once at the NESCBWI conference when I took her Character Design workshop (she gave us large cookies! and helped me with sketches for a Beaver character I was creating) and once at the SCBWI winter conference in NYC (where I completely flubbed the name of the chapter book series that she illustrated – Elvis and the Underdogs). She was a joy to talk with and full of genuine warmth.
The half time I’ve met her is through several encounters on Facebook and commenting on her blog. She is an open, focused, joyful online presence and I’ve been excited about her book release.
So, in light of my recent arrival (no Light pun intended), I decided to use my blog space to write an illustrator’s review of Louise Loves Art, which Kelly is currently touring around the country.
For kids, the book is an adorably dynamic story about Louise, her younger brother Art, and their elegant gray cat. Louise is very focused on drawing a masterpiece and creating a show where she can display all her artwork. Her little brother Art is looking for ways to get Louise’s attention. Their cat is a Greek-chorus like presence who hangs out with them and keeps the story rolling.
Near the end of the book, Art is finally able to get Louise’s attention in a shocking way. Louise’s response to this is the truly magical part of the story.
The illustrations have a neo-retro style that is full of vitality and FUN. Kelly’s background in animation shines here as each character’s body and facial expressions are pushed to the limit and convey with complete clarity their emotions, thoughts,and personalities. We are moving with the characters. We are in their house, romping through the rooms and finding space to hang pictures on the fridge with scattered alphabet magnets.
Kelly’s skill in incredibly accurate and descriptive drawing is also evident here. A flick of the foot, a slump of the shoulders, visual overlap and interaction between characters, what she chooses NOT to draw, are all signs of her mastery of drawing and make for a completely confident experience.
The book’s color palette is limited and focused, which serves the story and retro style very well. Besides black, white, and red, the only other color used in the story is the yellow for Art’s hair. This color choice makes him stand out in the imagery, as he does in the story, as something outside of Louise’s very focused, 3-color world of work and success.
For creators of all kinds, this is a story about the relationship of an artist to the work she is driven to do, and her relationship to Art, the fragile but insistent voice that drives all creative endeavors. The character Louise is the head, the brain, the force that has taken her very far in becoming the artist and creator she wants to be. Her little brother Art is the heart, the fearless and free center that we need to return to time and again to make sure we are on track.
Louise’s drive, focus, and openness make for an engaging, lovable, unique picture book character, one that I am very glad now exists in the children’s book world. More Louise, please!!!