BOOK REVIEW: Frederick, a children’s book in praise of creativity

Lionni, Leo - Frederick cover (2)Frederick
by Leo Lionni

This classic picture book opens with a family of field mice preparing for winter. They are busy collecting seeds and grains–all except Frederick that is. When his field mice friends ask him what he’s doing, he tells them he is busy collecting sun and colors. It sounds like he’s just being lazy, but in the dark days of winter, his efforts warm his family.

Lionni, Leo - Frederick (1) (1)

Frederick is a sweet narrative about the importance of creativity and imagination, something Leo Lionni had in spades. The Interweb said that Lionni, a 1984 AIGA medalist, would draw pictures to illustrate the stories he told his grandchildren. During a long train ride, however, he found himself without his drawing materials. Instead, he tore scraps of colored paper to create images, and his collage technique was born.

It was these college-based illustrations that originally drew me to Frederick, and they were a delight, simple and expressive. At times though, I found myself amused because Frederick looked a little high. Hey, it was written in the sixties: who knows what Lionni was thinking!

Lionni, Leo - Frederick (3)

Frederick’s lesson is that balance is necessary; art and wonder can be as crucial as food. It’s a book that will charm children and adults alike.

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