The Lion and the Unicorn and other Hairy Tales
In Jane Ray’s third exquisite collection of beastly tales she has inhabited and interpreted several stories and expressed the retellings in words and pictures. In a departure from the bright jewel-like illustrations usually associated with her, here she has used flat instead of glowing colours. The pictures are two-tone or black and white, delicately etched and cross-hatched, and carefully matched to each story. For example, in the Inuit tale ‘The Old Lady and her Son’ where the illustrations, especially those using blue, are reminiscent of the etchings on whalebone known as scrimshaw.
The human invention and feelings behind the tales are very present. Significant characters are depicted facing each other directly: Theseus and his father, the Old Woman and her Polar Bear son. The emotion in this last story is clear in the body language of the bear when his human mother dies. Tiny figures from the first story Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit adorn the heads of the pages. Encapsulated on the page, the latter will always be able to stay ahead of the former.
There is a range of mood and tone throughout the collection and humour is not neglected. It can be found in poems by Ogden Nash, a Flanders and Swann song and Kipling’s ‘How the Rhinoceros Got His Skin’ complete with an illustration depicting his ‘top suit’ with R for Rhinoceros on the pocket.
Also: The Emperor’s Nightingale and other Feathery Tales (9781910716540), Boxer Books £16.99
The Little Mermaid and other Fishy Tales (9781912757848), Boxer Books £16.99