Sunday, May 19, 2013

Liza Lou

One of my favorite books as a kid was Liza Lou and the Yeller Belly Swamp.

It's written by Mercer Mayer, who also wrote such classics as There's a Nightmare in My Closet and The Little Critter series.  These were also among my favorites, and before I could read them on my own, I figured out they were drawn by the same person.  I'm not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but as a pre-reader, I spent hours poring over these illustrations, so much so that when I came across something else drawn by Mayer, I recognized his style.

I ordered this book for my daughter last year, and was gratified when, on the day it showed up on our doorstep from Amazon, she immediately wanted to read it.  And then, when we were finished, she wanted to read it again.  And again.  And again.  Last night she asked for it again, so I pulled it out and read it to her.  It was late, though, and it's not a super fast read, so I skipped some sentences to make the experience go a little faster.

She caught me.  Scolded me.  And told me to READ IT RIGHT.

Then she asked me to stop so she could look at the pictures.  Which is fine and everything, but it was late, and I was impatient, so I told her to wait until we were done, and then she could go back and look at her favorites.

She did, and then asked me which illustration was my favorite.  I showed her.

Like I said, I'm no artist. Really, I'm the opposite of artistic.  But I've always loved this illustration, the way that Mayer did the close-up of the little girl, so we know how small the fly is, how her eyes are calm and serene, but the possum's eyes are frightened (because SPOILER ALERT that blue bottle fly is really the Sly Swamp Devil, who we all know will jump down inside a person and steal her soul away).  And even as a kid, I thought the color of Liza Lou's skin was beautiful.

While talking to my daughter, I pointed out the things I liked---her skin, her eyes, the possum's eyes, and then I pointed to the hands.  I think the hands are just beautifully drawn, and told her that.  She pointed to the heel of Liza Lou's hand, the one holding the cork, and said, "I think that looks like two kidneys!"

Well. So it does.


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