By Mary Smith
Well-read, self-aware, and talented are three words that describe Alison Paul, author and illustrator of The Crow: A Not So Scary Story. Paul was inspired by the work ofÂ Edgar Allen Poe, relying specifically on Poe’s “The Raven” as a poetic muse as sheÂ guides us through a child’s imagination in her book. Paul’s narrative addresses a newer generation of young readers, and her hand-dyed cut-and-torn paper illustrations testify to the depth and power of imagination.
In his third stanza of “The Raven,” Poe writes, “And the silken, sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain / Thrilled me-filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before.” Paul’s illustrations capture this sentiment–depicting the crow as a king, a burglar, a wizard, and a pirate. When her character, a little boy awakened from his sleep, sees a crow through his window, he imagines a terrible, mighty, and villainous creature. Enhanced by the intricacy of Paul’s collages, The Crow reminds us of the power of imagination, the power of fear, and the effect of losing sleep.
Alison Paul studied art at the Rhode Island School of Design and continues to live and work in Providence. Her forthcoming book, Sunday Love, is scheduled for release on Valentine’s Day 2010 and promises to be another original and compelling contribution to children’s literature. In addition, she currently has an artÂ show, Blackbirds & Burglars, at The Everyman Bistro on the West Side of Providence, whichÂ featuresÂ sneakÂ peaks of the art included in her new book. And while you wait for Sunday Love, pick up a copy of The Crow from Books on the Square, one of Providence’s favorite independent bookstore.
By Alison Paul
$16.00 Houghton Mifflin
Books on the Square
471 Angell Street, Providence, RI
Mary Smith is a freelance writer who lives on the West Side of Providence. Visit her blog at www.kidace.blogspot.com.