- Publisher: DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley)
- Format: Paperback | 32 pages
- Dimensions: 244mm x 290mm x 5mm | 204g
- Publication date: 2 January 2002
- Publication City/Country: New York, NY
- ISBN 10: 078948191X
- ISBN 13: 9780789481917
- Edition statement: American Paperb.
- Sales rank: 4,535
Four different voices tell their own versions of the same walk in the park. The radically different perspectives give a fascinating depth to this simple story which explores many of the author's key themes, such as alienation, friendship and the bizarre amid the mundane.
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Anthony Browne is the acclaimed author and illustrator of Gorilla (winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal) The Night Shimmy and Zoo (winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal.) The Shape Game was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal.
By Bev Collins 26 Oct 2013
BROWNE, A. (1998). VOICES IN THE PARK. New York: DK Publishing, Inc.
Anthony BrowneΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’s Voices in the park (1998) is contemporary realistic fiction, in the form of a picture book. On the surface this book is about a trip to the park, told from four different viewpoints. At a deeper level, Browne is highlighting the theme of socio-economic and personality differences. In typical Browne style, the heart of this book is its unique surreal artwork, providing a rich visual feast for the eyes.
The voices referred to in the title belong to two families. There are Charles, his mother and ΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬ΕVictoria, our pedigree LabradorΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬Β; and Smudge, her father and Albert - ΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬Εsome scruffy mongrelΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬Β to quote CharlesΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’ mother. Victoria and Albert hit it off from page two, much to MotherΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’s annoyance. One striking picture shows Mother with her hat blown straight up off her head, the flowers standing up off her scarf and vectors drawing the eye to her. The reader is aligned with Smudge looking at Mother from a high angle close up view, emphasising MotherΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’s superiority. (SheΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’s) ΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬ΛΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬ΓΖΖΖβΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ¦really angry, the silly twitΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’ thinks Smudge.
Browne very effectively separates his characters in multiple ways. Each is introduced with a heading (First, Second, Third and Fourth Voice). A different font for each voice cleverly represents their characteristics of judgment, depression, oppression and cheerfulness. The characters are drawn as gorillas, whose wonderful expressions range from proud self-righteousness and alarm to sad longing and joy. They represent different seasons, shown visually through form, colour and shadow. A lamp post creates a stunning vector separating the elegance of MotherΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’s world and the shabbiness of DadΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’s. The same post later highlights CharlesΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’ gloom and SmudgeΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’s hope. Layout in this picture has the children at the bottom looking at each other, offering the viewer freedom to focus on the top. CharlesΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’ landscape is overcast, with storm clouds and leafless trees. SmudgeΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’s background depicts light, clear blue sky, leafy trees and a fairy tale castle.
Although the illustrations appear simple, each visit becomes an adventure of exciting discovery. ΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬ΕI know itΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’s a waste of time but youΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’ve got to have some hope, havenΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’t you?ΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬Β asks Dad as he reads the paper in search of a job, a picture of The Scream on the paperΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’s cover echoing his despair. However ΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬ΕSmudge cheered me up. She chattered happily to me all the way home.ΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬Β The wall passed on their return journey is transformed from drab to warmly glowing by the lamp post, which is now a huge flower. More examples of intertextuality appear as Santa, previously begging by the wall is now dancing on his toes beside The laughing cavalier and Mona Lisa. The latter two, previously trapped, miserable and sitting in a puddle, have escaped their frames and are in each otherΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’s arms, dancing. One senses a feeling of victory, highlighted by King KongΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’s silhouette on top of the nearby high rise, itsΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’ dull grey windows transformed to bright yellow, green and red. The overall mood has changed from bleakness to joy.
Voices in the park is a treasure for all age groups ΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β the very young for the simple story and stunning illustrations, and for older readers the deeper meaning calling from each page. Anthony Browne has hit the mark with this book, which in his own words, ΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬Εleave[s] a gap that is filled by the readerΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬β’s imaginationΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬ΓΖΖΖβΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ¦ΓΖΖΖΖΓΖΖβΓΖβΓβΓΒ’β¬Β A book well worth reading again and again, Voices in the park is a valuable addition to any library.