Skip to main content

The Man from the Land of Fandango written by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by Polly Dunbar

In New Zealand, Margaret Mahy, who died in July of this year, was a  national treasure. Here in the States, we don't know her as well as we should, but perhaps you know Bubble Trouble or Down the Back of the Chair, the first two picture books she wrote with illustrator Polly Dunbar. Their final pairing, The Man from the Land of Fandango, was just released here and it is every bit as playfully fantastical and charming as their first books.

The Man from the Land of Fandango is one rollicking rhyme about a man who "is coming to pay you a call. With his tricolor jacket and polka-dot tie/ And his calico trousers as blue as the sky/ And his hat with a tassel and all." As the illustration shows, the man from the land of Fandango is about to spring to life from a painting by two children. Mahy clearly has a love of language (animals "tingle and tongle and tangle/ Till tomorrow turns into today) and her rhymes are as sweet on the tongue as the cake that is eaten in a "friendly fandanical way." My favorite comes near the end of the book, and, considering my passion for books about food, I guess it makes sense...

He comes in at the door like a somersault star
And he juggles with jelly and jam in a jar
And custards and caramel creams.

Dunbar matches Mahy's words perfectly, taking the story to another level. While I couldn't find any interior illustrations for The Man from the Land of Fandango, I have reviewed other books by Polly Dunbar and I highly recommend you take a look at her work. Even without Margaret Mahy's lovely, mellifluous way with words, Dunbar can illustrate and write a fabulous story.

Source: Review Copy


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…