From its stunning cover image and title to the very last illustration, FArTHER ($17.99, Templar Books, all ages) by Kate Greenaway Medal winner Grahame Baker-Smith will take readers to new picture book heights.
Baker-Smith has written and illustrated this deeply touching and immensely satisfying book as much for adults as for children. The art, a bit Da Vinci meets Dali and Dutch Masters, is spectacular, magical and will beckon you back again and again to study every last detail. If you’d like to learn more about how the art is created, read this wonderful article from the Telegraph in England. England also happens to be where Baker-Smith calls home.
The book introduces readers to a narrator looking back on his childhood with a father consumed by a dream to fly. Visually stunning, the pictures of the inventions are at once elaborate and chaotic cluing readers into the mind of the boy’s inventor father. The father’s preoccupation with all things flight often left the young boy wanting for his father’s attention. But when he eventually got the attention it was as special as any of the dad’s creations.
Sadly one day the lad’s father is called to war, never to return. The corresponding artwork – red poppies – is significant in its symbolism for those who gave their lives for their country and is worn on Remembrance Day in the U.K. It’s interesting to note that when the dad is shown tinkering with his flying machines, his work table is a mess. When the boy grows up and pursues his father’s dream of flying, his table appears organized. It’s subtle things like this that make each page a treat to explore.
Now a father, the narrator has hopes and desires for his own son and wonders if the child will aspire farther than his grandfather or father. Regardless of what may happen in the future, the dreams of this family are firmly planted in each new generation making the sky the limit.
Reviewed by Ronna Mandel