{book} crazy hair


DAY 09

Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman, Illustrated by Dave McKean

HarperCollins, 2005, 2009.

I was looking to reread The Wolves in the Wall, but they only had Crazy Hair available on the Library shelf. Was I disappointed? no. When I think of Illustrators a child should experience at least once in their young picture book career, Dave McKean makes the list and Crazy Hair answers the Why? rather nicely.

{more than including an image of one of the animals in the rhyme, it isn’t too far a stretch to note similar emphases between the man’s and tiger’s features, thus binding ones attributes to the other. And striped hair is pretty crazy, too.}

A young girl named Bonnie meets a guy with crazy hair who really does have some wild things going on with and in it. While she thinks to tame it as she has done her own, she gets pulled in and comes to embrace the marvel and imagination of crazy hair.

Playing with/The pretty birds,/Teaching parrots/Naughty words,

Neil Gaiman pens some fun rhymes in celebration of the untamed—from the wild to colorful to the musical to the daring… Who better than Dave McKean to illustrate a rescue of Bonnie (and Reader) from the creativity-stifling notion that is well-groomed hair? [Truly, I wish I had had this book when I was younger and arguing with mom over getting my straw-straight hair into flat and even straw-straight lines.]

{it is fun to watch the bear on Bonnie’s shirt change with and mimic her; externalizing the internal (as the hair is doing for the man in the story). And the mention of comb-eating bear in its place in the story? her new totem perhaps?}

McKean’s sense of the bizarre (which couples perfectly with the text and themes) guarantees a weird and exciting experience. The colors are vibrant, even the white pops. There are kinds of texture and movement going on, without being too overwhelming or creating an environment too difficult to follow. I find McKean’s work inspiring as well as a reminder of how marvelous picture books are for introducing the young to so many different creative forms of expression.

Fans of McKean’s and/or Gaiman’s work will enjoy Crazy Hair and will hardly be surprised at how Gaiman knows so much about crazy hair and the things going on inside of it. New fans await, however, and Crazy Hair and The Wolves in the Wall will get you and/or yours on track for enjoying the more grown-up Gaiman/McKean-paired works to come. Or even the unpaired—these are names to know, and Crazy Hair is a good introduction to the creative forces to which they ascribe.

{images belong to Dave McKean}

fun Neil Gaiman children’s book site

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Carl V. says:

    I’m ashamed, as a card-carrying Neil Gaiman fan, to admit that I have yet to read this one. And now that I see the images I feel really bad about not having done so. McKean does indeed have a sense of the bizarre and it works so well when couple with Gaiman’s words. McKean’s work has angles and a sense of movement that may not be entirely unique (given that I haven’t seen all art ever created) but is very unique within the spectrum of artists I am familiar with.

    This makes me want to go home and re-read The Wolves in the Walls. 🙂

    1. L says:

      I wasn’t aware of this one until I saw it on the shelf.

      I do view McKean as unique; it is in the unity of his creative vision and execution. I was thinking about McKean and how successful a storyteller he is in his medium, how he is able to relay and sustain his vision through long sequences rather than accompanying a block of text here and there. His style is so unexpected in how natural and reflexive it comes across despite how simultaneously weird it is, like: Of course we can communicate so many ideas and emotions in this form; keep staring, it’s okay.

      mmm, yes, The Wolves in the Walls!

      1. Carl V. says:

        I remember a lot of buzz from Gaiman fans when this came out and when I didn’t snag a copy for myself right away I promptly forgot all about it until I saw your post. McKean really is a successful storyteller. I think that comes out not only in his artwork but also in his stamp on Mirrormask. It is a delight to see McKean’s illustrations come to life on the screen. I’d love to see he and Gaiman do another film collaboration like that.

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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