Friday, May 7, 2021

John Classen sees Samuel Beckett in a hilariously dark picture book


Sky to Rock
By John Klassen

“The Rock from the Sky” is a children’s book that concerns, at least in part, a rock. Naturally then it takes into account other rocks: Rock in the Weight of Godot, Landscape in the Rock, Sisephus pushes upward each day only to see the slope, the rock Prometheus is chained while His liver eagle eats. You know, baby stuff.

Rock, even in children’s books, such as William Stague’s “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble,” breaks down the bad things: despair, harshness, imprisonment. But in this beautiful, extra, funny book by John Klassen – The Caldcott Medal Winning Writer “I want my hat back,” “It’s not my hat” And “We got a hat” – The rock indicates something different: doom. Wow.

With its muted, desolate landscape, “The Rock from the Sky” is particularly hilariously dark about social relationships. It has three main characters in five stories – a hat-wearing turtle whose favorite spot is at the exact spot where a giant boulder is about to fall, an armadillo wearing a hat who stands in this place to stand with the turtle Worried about. And a barrett-clad snake who joins the armadillo.

These animals can easily fit into the “Waiting for Godot”. They are waiting. They are isolated. They wear hats. And their conversation is reliably flat – like “Frog and Toad” without Fromy. Here are the turtles and armadillo:

“What do you think of my chance?”

“Actually I feel bad about it.”

“Got a bad feeling?”

“Yes.”

I hope I’m not going too far to say that “A Rock from the Sky” is a rock falling from the sky. Thankfully no one was crushed. Before the rock landed, the turtle, fortunately, enlisted Armadillo and the snake in their safe place. All three see Boulder falling from a distance.

The second story, “The Fall”, shows after this. The turtle reaches over a fallen rock, then falls on its back and refuses to flip it to the right to help Armadillo. Here are some of their chitchats:

“Were you climbing on it?”

“No.”

“Have you fallen?”

“No.”

The third story is yet Oder. Armadillo and the turtle envision the future, involving a ruddy forest and a fourth character, who looks like a guard tower with a giant eye on top. This lonely, angry panopticon vaguely remembers Eve in “Wall-E”. She destroys.

Do things get heated before the book is over? No.

In the fourth story, Snake and Armadillo sit by a fallen rock together to watch a sunset. It was nice? Not necessary. These two animals, which now live in the old turtle seal field, abandoned it.

The final story begins with the turtle’s bravado: “I see how it is.” There is enough room for just two. Maybe I will move to another place by myself. Maybe I’ll never come back. “His” friends “say nothing. Nevertheless, the tortoise returns to its place, followed by a spooky, wobbly radiate.

I will not give the end. Suppose it contains another rock from the sky.

Although this delicate deadpan book tells the story of children’s love and companionship, its message is not remotely warm or fuzzy. he is beautiful.

If Samuel Beckett had written a children’s book, it could be. We are alone, our friends cannot be trusted and doom is awaited. Good night sweet



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