Imagine a night when you can ride your bike right up the stairs to your bed. Imagine a night when your toy train rumbles on its tracks out of your room and roars back in, full sized, ready for you to hop on for a nighttime adventure. Imagine a night when a farmer plays a lullaby on his fiddle, and his field of sunflowers begins to dip and sway to the rhythm. Imagine a night when ordinary objects magically become extraordinary...a night when it is possible to believe the impossible.
With the intrigue of an Escher drawing and the richness of a Chris Van Allsburg painting, renowned Canadian artist Rob Gonsalves depicts that delicious time between sleep and wakefulness, creating a breathtaking, visual exploration of imagination and possibility that will encourage both children and adults to think past the boundaries of everyday life, and see the possibilities beyond.
Not quite a narrative and not quite a catalogue, this volume presents a series of hallucinatory paintings, loosely unified by atmospheric lyrics. Gonsalves specializes in optical illusions. In his Escher-like cover image, a moonlit row of pine trees reflects in a dark lake; on close observation, viewers see the mirrored space between the trees transforming into a ghostly procession of women in white gowns, illumined by sepulchral lamplight ("Imagine a night.../ ...when moonlight spills/ across the water/ to make a path/ for the lightest feet"). In two candlelit images, narrow cathedral windows metamorphose into tall men in monks' robes. An artist cuts his curtains into the silhouette of a city skyline, so that the distinction between the cloth and the horizon becomes unclear. Children glide over brown and green patchwork quilts, which turn to farmland, or cheerfully aim their wagons and bikes down a scary, roller-coaster steep street. Thomson (Stars and Stripes,reviewed May 26) has the task of retrofitting prose to the finished images, which are related conceptually but like the pictures in Guy Billout's recent Something's Not Quite Right do not form a story. Each of Thomson's passages begins with the title words, and implies more pleasant dreams than the artist's playful but edgy images suggest: "Imagine a night... /...when candlelight rises/ on butterfly wings/ to greet the lonely stars." A concluding gallery of the plates emphasizes the artificiality of the secondhand narration, but Gonsalves's work nevertheless casts a spooky spell. All ages.