Can You Imagine?
Can You Imagine?
I love to draw.
But today I don’t feel inspired.
Maybe a journey will give some fresh ideas.
Wallace Edwards is recognised as one of Canada’s premier picture book illustrators. His new book is entitled Can You Imagine? It is an excellent resource for budding young authors and illustrators because it gives a glimpse into the life and work of Wallace Edwards in that it shows where he gets some of his ideas and, indeed, where we might all get ideas for stories and artworks. The book begins with an artist pig sitting at his desk and then standing before his easel. In the first instance, blank white sheets of paper stare back at the pig. In the second instance, an empty canvas yawns before him. Lacking the necessary inspiration to begin, the pig decides to take a journey outside. That journey yields many and varied ideas so the pig can immediately set to work once he returns home.
Edwards’ illustrations for the book were rendered in watercolour, coloured pencils, and gouache. The abundantly colourful, intricately detailed illustrations are a highlight of a fun book. The artwork shows that, for Wallace, inspiration can be drawn from everyday things—littered throughout the illustrations are such commonplace items as a spoon, playing cards, candy canes, and the tools of a young artist’s trade—crayons, coloured pencils, lead pencils, and paint brushes. It is equally obvious that Wallace (and his pig protagonist) is inspired by nature. The journey takes the pig past all sorts of vibrantly colourful birds, animals, and plants. Indeed, it is a nature scene outside his front door that eventually proves the inspiration for the pig’s latest artistic creation.
The written text in Can You Imagine? is concise. The large, clear black font on white backgrounds makes it easy to read. This will hold its own appeal for developing readers. However, it is the artwork that will stimulate most excitement. Edwards’ surreal art style will appeal to young readers. They will enjoy identifying new details each time they open the book. Can You Imagine? is creative, fantastic, and filled with whimsy.
Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He specializes in literature for children.