Archive for July 21, 2010
Book: The Giver, by Lois Lowry
Illustrated by: Lucy Knisley
This scene from the fourth chapter is a weird one. Jonas is fulfilling his last few volunteer hours as “an eleven,” so he rides his bike to the “House of the Old,” to join his friends in caring for the elderly of the community. There, he bathes a woman who tells him glowingly about a “release” that took place earlier, when an man at the house of the old was “released” from the community.
There’s a lot of talk of physicality in this scene. It’s explained that within the community, seeing anyone naked is forbidden (excluding the elderly and the very young). Much time is spent describing the steamy room and the woman’s frail skin and Jonas’ friend, Fiona, who, nearby, is washing an elderly man.
It’s always been a really eerily visual scene to me. The strange sexuality of this moment points out how the rest of life within the community is decidedly un-sexual. Reproduction is handled through designated birthmothers who are (one assumes) artificially inseminated. Even “mothers” and “fathers” are assigned to one another, and seem to behave like just good pals.
Man, this is such a great, creepy book.
In this chapter, Jonas and his family gather around the breakfast table to discuss their dreams from the previous night. Jonas shares a confusing, uncomfortable dream, in which he is trying to bathe his friend Fiona as he did for the elderly woman in the previous chapter. In the dream, Fiona laughingly refuses, which makes Jonas “angry.” His mother explains that the dream is his first “stirring,” which indicates that he has reached the time when he should begin to take the daily pills that are taken by all adults in the community.
Another creepy one. The dream is actually less sexual than the bathing scene from the former chapter, but it’s strange that Jonas is consumed with a kind of anger in his dream. This frustration, while perfectly natural in sexy dreams, reflects how repressed the sexuality is within this community, so that sexuality manifests as frustration and “wanting” in Jonas’ dream.
Congratulated on reaching the age that allows him to join his parents and friend Asher in taking the pills, Jonas becomes proud of his new status and takes the pills. As soon as he’s taken them, he tries to recapture the “pleasurable feelings in the dream,” but they quickly slip away and vanish.
They drugged the sexy right out of this community!
I thought these two chapters went so well together that they should post both at once. Next month: The start of the The Ceremony!
When we last saw him Atreyu had just set out on his quest to find a cure for the Childlike Empress. Since visiting the glass towers of Eribo he has ridden through many wondrous parts of Fantasia, he has encountered the Nothing itself in the Howling forest. In his dreams a great buffalo told him to seek out the Ancient Morla, a giant turtle and perhaps the oldest creature in their world.
Morla lives in the swamps of despair however and Atreyu loses his dear little horse Artax, when the poor creature becomes to sad to go on and lets herself sink into the mud of the swamp.
Though he manages to find the aged turtle, Morla scoffs him and tells him the end of the world doesn’t matter to her. She’s so old, she doesn’t care about anything befalling Fantasia, she’s outlived everything so far. But if he does insist on an answer, perhaps Atreyu should seek out the Southern Oracle.
The Southern Oracle however lives on the other side of Fantasia, and Atreyu continues his journey, though much sadder, slower and wearier. Still he does encounter Falcor a luck dragon and it is the nature of those creatures to bestow good fortune on their friends and companions. So Atreyu does make it to the Southern Oracle, where he is received into the care of two gnomes who can tell him all about the three gates that anyone who wishes to visit Uyulala, the oracle, must pass.
So that is where we find him now, standing before the two sfinxes who guard the first gate.
A slightly different picture this month, as I realised too late that the drawing I had made for the scene I wanted to illustrate, was lovely, spiffy and all that, but that I had no way to finish it on time, seeing as how I have no scanner this week. The unfortunate consequence of house and dog sitting for my mum, while she’s in France. So while I do get the advantages of a week in a nice house to myself, said nice house does not have any device for putting drawings on the internet.
That’s why I decided to go back to the style of the very first thing I made for Picturebook Report, the title page. You see in the actual book, every chapter has a wonderfully illustrated title page with the first letter of that chapter in beautiful calligraphy. This is then my version of those ‘official’ illustrations.
So here you are:
Chapter : The Three Gates
Falcor was still sleeping when….