"review" · Children's · fiction · Illustrator · juvenile lit · Picture book · recommend · sci-fi/fantasy · Tales

ah, nicoletta

It has been some months since I featured one of my favorite Illustrators Nicoletta Ceccoli. The blog “7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast” posted on a new picture book by Ceccoli and they had this video where Ceccoli talks about her work. I immediately went to see if the Library has some picture books with Ceccoli’s name on them.

The Girl in the Castle inside the Museum

written by Kate Bernheimer, pictures by Nicoletta Ceccoli

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2008.

Once there was a small castle on display in a museum. When children visited, they’d press close to the glass globe in which the castle sat. For they’d heard that if they looked hard enough, they’d see a tiny girl inside….

Can you see her?

Here is an original fairy tale that feels like a dream—haunting, beautiful, and completely unforgettable. ~dust jacket

Inside the Castle inside a Museum that is Inside the Story that is this book, which was inside the imagination of Kate Bernheimer and Nicoletta Ceccoli. Dreamers inside dreams who have dreams wherein the reader is brought to mind.

The story and its images would defy the dimensions of a page. Ceccoli plays with dimensions (some Escheresque details), media, and shadows, while Bernheimer acknowledges the reader in a theatrical violation of the fourth wall. The story resides in simultaneity, multiple planes living and interacting. Reader and character alike are enlivened; the reader inspired to dream by the one they would dream about.

Even if the reader doesn’t leave their photograph in the frame on the girl’s wall, the reader has already kept her company.

The Girl inside the Castle inside the Museum is an equal parts disturbing and enchanting fairytale. I highly recommend it.

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“Well, now that we have seen each other,” said the Unicorn, “if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you. Is that a bargain?” ~Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (and epigraph to A Dignity of Dragons by Jacqueline K. Ogburn)

A Dignity of Dragons: Collective Nouns for Magical Beasts 

by Jacqueline K. Ogburn, illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli.

Houghton Mifflin, 2010.

With inventive groupings, luminous artwork, and a fact-filled glossary, A Dignity of Dragons makes for a bestiary to treasure. For within its pages, you’ll learn about all the creatures you may be lucky enough to see, if know where to look. ~dust jacket.

“Everyone has heard of groups of animals—a pride of lions, a charm of hummingbirds, a school of fish. If you came upon magical beasts gathered together, what would you call them?” (2) Jacqueline K. Ogburn is marvelous in her response to this question. A Dignity of Dragons is a fun and enchanting read.

A dazzlement of Quetzalcoatls/An arch of rainbow snakes

A few groupings I especially liked (that are not already mentioned): A grapple of griffins. A resurrection of phoenix. A continent of kracken. A flurry of yetis. A pandemonium of fauns. A faculty of centaurs.

A flame of feng hwangs/A resurrection of phoenix/A flash of firebirds

If the reader is curious who some of the creatures are, or to whom they belong, there is a glossary at the back. This is a beautiful book and a must see for lovers of magical creatures. And Nicoletta Ceccoli was the perfect fit as an illustrator for this collection of collective nouns. Kirkus writes,

Every figure is pretty, but the illustrator staves off preciosity by injecting plenty of drama into her compositions — like a scary “riddle of sphinx” gazing down clinically on a small pilgrim or a ship of ancient design being attacked simultaneously by a “vengeance of harpies,” a “tangle of gorgons” and a (bare-breasted) “chord of sirens.” Enthralling fare for addicts of myth and fantasy…

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my two other posts featuring books Nicoletta Ceccoli illustrated: here & here.

A Dignity of Dragons images from 7 Impossible Things for Breakfast on their review of said book.

Both these books fit into the Once Upon a Time Challenge (V): The first book being a fairytale, the second dealing in myth