Monday, January 20, 2014

Picture Book Monday with a review of The Land of Neverbelieve

The world is full of people who wish they could visit a place that is populated by weird and wonderful plants, animals, and people. Why else do so many of us like to travel to Narnia, Middle Earth, down a rabbit hole, and other places that exist on the pages of books. Today's book is a title that book travelers will find most intriguing. It is full of lovely annotated artwork that is breathlessly odd and beautiful.


The Land of NeverbelieveThe Land of Neverbelieve
Norman Messenger
Picture Book
For ages 8 and up
Candlewick Press, 2012, 978-0-7636-6021-5
One day the author is “quietly puttering about at sea in my boat,” when he sees an island that looks so amazing he cannot resist going over to investigate. From the moment he sets foot on the sandy beach the author is “spellbound,” because the island is populated by plants, animals and people the like of which the world has never seen. The people on the island explain that this island, unlike most islands that stay in one place, likes to move on a regular basis. It has legs that allow it to stand up and walk off “to a fresh location.”  Working quickly the author sets about recording what he sees and learns using words and pictures. He knows that time is short and that the island could move on at any time. Thankfully for us, before the island can set off for pastures new, the author is able to create some extraordinary annotated drawings that show us what he saw when he was on the island.
   The author begins by showing us a map of the Land of Neverbelieve. Among other things we are able to see where the mountains are, where the Hamlet is, and where the crop garden is located. Next we see the little houses that the islanders live in that are “delightfully colorful, fanciful, and quirky.” A fold out page reveals that the houses perfectly complement the islanders. They all have features that are decidedly animal-like and tend to favor clothes that are very colorful and creative.
   We next go on to look at some very odd trees, and then on to the plants and animals that are found in the “mysterious marsh” and “rushing stream.” Here you will find a frog with legs that are incredibly long and an enormous snake that has three heads.
   If you think that these creatures are odd then you should see the creatures in the “Happy Forest Clearing.” They can change their appearances in dramatic ways, transforming, and linking, and they can “stand upside down or even downside up.”

   With careful attention to detail the author takes us to all the places shown on his map, giving us a complete picture of the Land of Neverbelieve and delighting us with his lovely artwork and interesting notes.

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