This week we're taking a closer look at Powell's Pick of the Month The Imaginaries by Emily Winfield Martin.
Portland-based artist/author Emily Winfield Martin’s gorgeous, gauzy illustrations have enticed and astounded me since I first encountered them in her 2013 picture book Dream Animals
. Here, snippets of found text inspire fantastical landscapes, people, and creatures; each page is a tiny world I want to dive into and explore. — Madeline S.
Our favorite picture books are often the ones that speak to children and adults alike. Authors like Mac Barnett
and Mo Willems
never fail to make our families laugh out loud with the absurd situations their characters find themselves in (a duck and mouse living the high life in a wolf’s stomach
? An elephant who can balance three animals and a piano on his trunk
?), while more serious books like Dreamers
and The Stuff of Stars
soothe, educate, and astound with their artistry and inclusivity.
Other beloved picture books edge more toward adult sensibilities while still igniting young imaginations, and Emily Winfield Martin’s The Imaginaries: Little Scraps of Larger Stories
fits squarely into this category. The Imaginaries
pairs Martin’s dreamy paintings with mysterious scraps of text that function as the first line in a story: “She hadn’t believed in the night garden”; “The future is a rumor the past told the present.” It’s easy to envision a nightly ritual of picking one illustration and using the prompt to tell an original bedtime story, but you definitely don’t need a child at home to enjoy this puzzling, pretty book. With its lush imagery and open-ended text, The Imaginaries
serves as wonderful inspiration for journaling, drawing, or just calming, end-of-day page-turning, when you want to relax into the deep lap of make-believe.
Winfield’s paintings are full whimsy, often featuring ethereal, wide-eyed women and children, and their gentle animal companions. Ships, sea creatures, and flowers also feature heavily. Martin paints in muted jewel tones that convey an appealing dustiness, like the images are treasures pulled from the back of a possibly magical antique shop. The effect is almost twee, but for the tiniest suggestion of danger in the text and the mild discomfort or blankness on many of the characters’ faces. This lends The Imaginaries
-esque tinge that makes it interesting instead of cute, and a satisfying place for anyone to start a story.
Check out the rest of our Picks of the Month here