Tag Archives: Leonid Gore

Clockwork

Author: Philip Pullmanclockwork

Illustrator: Leonid Gore

My rating: 4.5 of 5

In a small German town, a group of townsfolk gather by the fireside in the tavern to hear a story. And a horrifying tale it is, in keeping with the usual for Fritz, one of princes and strange happenings and creepy clockwork makers. But things go from typically frightening to truly terrifying when said creepy clockwork maker walks right into the tavern in a gust of wintry air as if he’d stepped right out of Fritz’s story by magic.

I love Philip Pullmans’ writing, both the craftsmanship of it and the variety of it. I think Clockwork might be surprising–and possibly disappointing–to those who know his work mainly from the His Dark Materials books. Rather than being some big fantasy tale, Clockwork is a tightly woven, neat little fairy tale of novella length. And viewed as what it is, I think this book works excellently. The characters are distinct, and you get to know exactly what you need to about them to really appreciate the roles they play in the story. And the interwoven storylines fit together while still leaving just enough unexplained to maintain the eeriness of the story. The atmosphere and the tension that’s developed throughout is one of the strongest points of this story, to my mind–one of the reasons this works best as a novella, since this atmosphere would be impossible (or at least exhausting for the reader) to maintain through a longer story. Finally, this book has the makings of an excellent fairy tale: the sense of rightness, the magic, the darkness, and the happy ending. For those who love a good dark fairy tale, I would definitely recommend Clockwork.

 

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Behold the Trees

Author: Sue Alexander

Illustrator: Leonid Gore

In this creatively illustrated picture book, Sue Alexander speaks of the trees and their place in what is current-day Israel from the times of ancient history to the present day. She speaks movingly of the lush growth that once covered that land; of the ignorance, war, and lack of care that eventually caused the land to be nearly barren; and of the world-wide efforts which have led to the planting of thousands of trees and to a renewed life in the land. Behold the Trees is a unique blend of ecology and history. In a lesser author, it would be a truly boring and didactic work; however, Alexander’s deft writing and Gore’s craggy, earth-toned illustrations craft this into a moving story instead. I probably wouldn’t read this as a picture book for small children, but I think Behold the Trees is a beautiful book that everyone should read at least once, if only for the perspective it provides.

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