Thursday, November 21, 2013

Throwback Thursday: The Jumblies

"Far and few, far and few are the lands where the Jumblies live.
Their heads are green and their hands are blue and they went to sea in a sieve."

I think I could recite this whole book. Edward Lear's The Jumblies was one of the books I forced my father to read ad nauseum. If I had to pick a book that was the seed that germinated in me the desire to become both a writer and an illustrator, it would have to be this one. I was utterly enthralled with this edition. Lear's poem tumbles off the tongue deliciously. The a rhythm of it like gently rocking ship, much like the sieve that the harlequin-like imps, the Jumblies, take on a voyage to an enchanting far off land. Rand's watercolor illustrations in charming, gentle pastels draw you into a surreal realm of possibility.

The Jumblies has been published as a children's book several times illustrated by different artists, including another of my favorites, Edward Gorey. But I have to say, this edition by Ted Rand captures the dreaminess of the poem, and cements it as an anthem for dreamers everywhere. I think there are plenty of creative souls out there who have at one point or another been totally aware that they are embarking on a dangerous journey in a metaphorical leaky sieve. And yet they sing on "O Timbaloo! How happy we are!" The phrase was my seven year old version of "I am the Master of my Fate, I am the Captain of my Soul".

These are probably the most whimsical and stylized illustrations in Rand's portfolio. I almost didn't recognize him as the same artist who illustrated the elementary school must-reads Knots on a Counting Rope and The Tree that Would Not Die. Rand excels at bringing to life stories generally based on historical events or in real life cultural settings. 

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