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Voices in the Park [Paperback]

Anthony Browne
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 15 2000
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.

Frequently Bought Together

Voices in the Park + The Name Jar + Those Shoes
Price For All Three: CDN$ 26.00

  • The Name Jar CDN$ 8.54
  • Those Shoes CDN$ 7.60

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Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Browne again proves himself an artist of inventive voice and vision as he creates perhaps his most psychologically complex work to date via a commonplace experienceAa brief sojourn to a city park. The author of King Kong and the Willy stories again features anthropomorphic chimps, who provide four unique perspectives: an uppity, overbearing mother and her glum son, Charles; and an unemployed fellow and his cheerful daughter, Smudge. What transpires factually is simple: the two children play together, their dogs do the same, the adults keep to themselves. Yet Browne reinvents and overlays the scene as each parent and child in turn describes their version of the events, altering light, colors and words. Browne sets up the tension by starting off with Charles's stylishly dressed mother, who lets her "pedigree Labrador," Victoria, off the leash and then scoffs at "some scruffy mongrel"(Smudge's dog). The matriarch similarly describes Charles's newfound friend as "a very rough-looking child." Through Charles's eyes, readers watch the tops of lampposts, gray clouds and a leafless tree take on the shape of his mother's large chapeau, as her hat-dominated figure casts a shadow over the boy. In the succeeding page, Browne cleverly frames a shift in Charles's mood with an illustration divided by a lamppost: threatening clouds and bare trees give way to blue skies and blossoming branches when a smiling, pigtailed (anything but rough-looking) Smudge on the sunny side of the park bench invites Charles to play on the slide. Browne offers readers much to pore over. His images reflect the human psyche; some are eerie (Edvard Munch's "The Scream" appears in the want ads; a burning tree provides the backdrop for mother and son's silent exit from the park), others uplifting. For example, the subjects of two portraits leaning on the park wall, a gloomy Rembrandt self-portrait and a weeping Mona Lisa, transform into a dancing couple under a street lamp fashioned from a flower, as the jobless man departs the park, cheered by his daughter. Although some discomfiting tonesAin both pictures and textA appear in the vignettes, Browne also celebrates the redeeming power of connecting with another human being. His creativity invites youngsters to tap into their own, as they look for clues between the trees and add their own spins to Browne's four interconnected tales. Ages 7-11.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 5-A mother takes her son and their dog to the park, where she thinks about dinner and turns up her nose at the "frightful types." Meanwhile, an unemployed father sits on the same bench and searches the want ads while admiring his daughter's chatter and their dog's energy. The two kids, of course, find one another. In four short first-person narratives, each of the characters recounts the same outing from a different perspective and at a different emotional level. The mother is annoyed. The father is melancholy. The boy is bored and lonely, then hopeful. The girl is independent and outgoing, yet observant. The real "voices," however, are not found in the quiet, straightforward text, but in Browne's vibrant, super-realistic paintings in which trees are oddly shaped, footsteps turn to flower petals, Santa Claus begs for change, and people happen to be primates. Some of the illustrations appear in smaller squares while others are full bleeds so that even the margins become part of the narrative. Browne's fans should find this even more satisfying than Willy the Dreamer (Candlewick, 1998). Because readers will want to compare pages (did that building turn into a castle?) and tarry over every detail, this book is best suited to independent reading. Even prereaders will be intrigued by the way a simple visit to the park can literally be "seen" in so many different ways.
Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
It was time to take Victoria, our pedigree Labrador, and Charles, our son, for a walk. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Most helpful customer reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish there was a rating above 5 this is so good! March 19 2002
By A Customer
This brilliantly illustrated story is about four different characters, a bossy woman, a poor man, a lonely boy and a young girl, all apes. Each of the moods of the characters personality is reflected in different seasons and each in a different font. With each voice described you begin to understand the story and the events that are occurring in the park that day. One voice at a time you begin to see them all fit together. The little girls story at the end ties them all together.
I believe that with the story the author is suggesting that we open our eyes and see the big picture. Appreciate what is happening around you. I may not be hitting this right but I read this book over and over and I see a deeper meaning in this story then just to describe the occurrence in the park. I believe that the author wanted to show the simplicity in children's thoughts and show that they are so peaceful and appreciate and want to know everything and everyone without any prejudice or immediate assumptions. Also within the pictures there are so many hidden meanings that you wouldn't notice first off. The pictures display the emotions of the character. An example is one picture where Charles, a boy being reprimanded by his strict mother, meets smudge, a happy go lucky girl. His side of the picture is all gloomy skies and her side is happy and colorful.
There are beautiful paintings in this book that catch the eyes of any age. The creativity of using different fonts was wonderful; it keeps kids interested in what they are reading. I love this book and I feel that every time I pick it up I will find something that I had not noticed before and I love books like that.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My students enjoyed this book very much. Jan. 27 1999
By A Customer
Our class has discussed the book for a week, pointing out all the interesting things that are on each page. We just wanted to know a little something about the author and why he uses gorillias in his books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensitive, sweet, surreal book for kids & adults Sept. 22 2000
A rare book that combines exceptional kid-friendly artwork with a sensitive and subtle look at class. How many children's books do that? An outstanding choice for young readers and adult aficionados. I find something new in the illustrations every time i reread it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book April 5 2009
This is a wonderful book which shows how different people perceive the same events in different ways. It also shows how children are much more tolerant of people's differences than adults are. A great teaching aid for illustrating "voice in literature"
The illustrations also tell more of the story, and I notice new things every time I read it.
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