Book Review – The Wreck of the Zephyr

TITLE: The Wreck of the Zephyr
AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR: Chris Van Allsburg
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHED: 1983

In The Wreck of the Zephyr, a boy finds a boat on the hillside and an old man sitting near the boat. He asks the old man about it and then the next 95% of the story is the man telling the story of how it came to be there.
It’s got the same type of ending issues I had with Abdul Gasazi, so again, I’m going to recommend this for older kids (5+).

I liked the story enough, but it was told as a bunch of quoted paragraphs from the old man on the bench. I wish it would have been one of those things where they do a prologue of “how did this boat get here” and then just told the story. I think it lost a lot of the impact it could have had this way.
The illustrations were gorgeous, again done by Allsburg himself, and this time in full color. I could certainly see the appeal of the artwork, although the colors used had the same passive feel as the story.

I intentionally waited a couple weeks to write this review, and really, I can tell you the overall gist of the story, but the details didn’t really stand out. So I’m going to only give this a 3/5. It’s a high 3, but only a 3. Worth reading if you’re reading all of them, but he’s got others that are better.

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Book Review – The Garden of Abdul Gasazi

TITLE: The Garden of Abdul Gasazi
AUTHOR & ILLUSTRATOR: Chris Van Allsburg
FORMAT: Hardback
PUBLISHED: 1979

To continue my ‘read all the books’ of Van Allsburg, I picked this one up for no reason other than I liked the artwork on the front (all the topiaries are animals).
In the story, a little boy is asked to dog-sit, and of course he messes it up. The dog runs straight into a garden clearly marked as “no dogs” and the magician inside takes the dog.
There is some really cool magic-y stuff that happens in the story, and I like how it ended, although I do have to say that with the ending, it might be suitable for slightly older children (like 5ish?)…

I don’t really have a lot to complain about with this story, so I won’t. I give it a solid 4/5 pages.

Book Review – Z was Zapped

TITLE: The alphabet theatre proudly presents the Z was zapped : a play in twenty-six acts
AUTHOR & Illustrator: Chris Van Allsburg
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHED: 1987

I was talking to a friend of mine about a movie and discovered it was a children’s book first, so I looked the author up and came up with a whole list of titles. But this one is so far my favorite.
In fact, it’s my favorite because the thing reminds me a little of Edward Gorey, except with letters instead of people, which makes it a little more friendly for the masses. In each case, something happens to a letter of the alphabet. Really, there’s not much to say about this one. I hope it’s not too much a spoiler (it should be obvious!) that Z, for instance, gets Zapped.

My only issue with the book is the layout. On the right hand side of the page, we have the illustrations – black and white by the author himself. On the left, we have the text. But in this case, the illustration leads, so when you’re looking at a page that tells you what happens to P, the illustration is showing what happens to Q. When it’s telling you that B is badly bitten, you’re looking at the picture of C being Cut to Ribbons. I wish you were reading and seeing the same letter, you know?

In all, I think it’s awesome. I tried to read it to the baby and he even liked it (he’s seven months old).
If it weren’t for the layout issue, I’d give it a five. Alas.

4/5 pages.

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