Anthony and the Gargoyle
Anthony and the Gargoyle
Jo Ellen Bogart and Maja Kastelic have collaborated to produce an enjoyable and endearing wordless picture book, Anthony and the Gargoyle. Wordless books are a wonderful resource to introduce young children to books and reading, and this one will serve that purpose well. However, this is a book that is not limited in its appeal only to younger readers.
Jo Ellen Bogart photographed gargoyles on her visit to Notre Dame Cathedral while in Paris. This experience inspired Anthony and the Gargoyle because, in the book, a gargoyle magically hatches from an egg-shaped rock that rests besides Anthony’s bed. Later, Anthony is looking through a family photograph album with his mother and sees a gargoyle that looks like the new hatchling. When Anthony learns the photograph is from Paris, he senses the baby gargoyle must feel terrible loss at being separated from its mother. While Anthony is struggling to resolve that issue, his parents learn of an illness in their family. They travel to Paris to visit Anthony’s ailing grandmother. This trip affords an opportunity for Anthony to reunite the hatchling with its gargoyle parent.
In addition to the cathedral, readers might recognise other Paris landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Arc de Triomphe, and the bridge, Pont Alexandre III. Such inclusions add authenticity to the Parisian setting and also add interest for older readers. Additionally, these inclusions add extra layers of detail and beauty to the artwork. Kastelic’s illustrations were painted with gouache and then coloured digitally. Some pages contain a full-page illustration while other pages are divided into three or four graphic-novel-style panels. Throughout the book, the colours are muted. My own personal preference is for bright, vibrant colours. However, in the mind of this reviewer, the muted colours serve to form a bridge between the realistic detail of the depictions of architectural wonders and the otherworldly elements involving the animated gargoyle. Were the colours more vibrant, that “dreamlike sense” might be lost and a reader might become confused by the mix of realism and fantasy. Despite my general personal preferences, the muted colours are a terrific artistic choice made by an abundantly talented illustrator. Anthony and the Gargoyle is a fun book that children and adults will enjoy. Moreover, it is a skillfully executed book that readers of various ages will appreciate and admire.
Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. He specialises in literature for children.