Aart Jan Venema (Illustrator)
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April 30, 2019
8.6 X 0.4 X 11.1 inches | 0.9 pounds
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About the Author
Aart Jan Venema is a Dutch illustrator whose editorial work has featured in The Guardian, the FT, Wall Street Journal, Green Man Festival, Science, ZEIT and many more. He is also the winner of the World Illustration Award, 2017. This is his first book.
KIRKUS STARRED REVIEW: Deeply colored illustrations are quirky and cartoony offering plenty to look at. Readers can spin their own stories about the characters as they hunt for objects and people, named in the verses. The story brings the many characters together to share a dinner party, with a message of friendship between diverse people, but it's the artist's weirdly funny sensibility that shines out of every page. CHILDREN'S BOOK & MEDIA REVIEW: Night Windows is a unique blend of a traditional picture book with a beginning-middle-end story, and a search-and-find book. Each page of this book is a delightful feast for the eyes with countless small details just waiting to be devoured. The bright, kaleidoscopic illustrations succeed at depicting the lively stories going on behind each window. As the tenants start to mingle, the scenes get even more colorful and exciting, aiding in the delivery of the book's simple message of the magic of stepping outside one's comfort zone. Night Windows makes an excellent bedtime story; the intricate illustrations require time and care, which may make it more tricky to read to a class or group. The text is syncopated, making it fun to read out loud. The words take a bit of a backseat to exploring the vivid pictures, but tell a nice story that could be helpful for a child going through a similar experience of moving, or trying something new. Rich with humorous and hidden content, this book is sure to be a hit. FOREWORD REVIEW: From a bench outside his noisy building, a lonely boy observes each apartment as it is perfectly lit against the dark night sky. This is an illuminating tale about making friends and coming home. Rhyming verses track the boy's findings until one evening he realizes he isn't alone on the bench anymore. Audiences can follow along through the ever-changing window pictures, search for objects in I Spy fashion, or simply enjoy the animated tale of moving to a new city. READ IT DADDY REVIEW: Here's a really fascinating little storybook, at once visually appealing but dive inside and you'll find a really original story too... Once again Cicada Books seem to have a knack for signing up original ideas from amazing author-illustrators. In "Night Windows" by Aart-Jan Venema there's a really relatable theme at the heart of a tale of a young boy who moves from the countryside to the big city. Aart-Jan's astonishingly brilliant art lends itself well to each scene as the boy gradually adjusts to his surroundings in the urban sprawl, and begins to better understand the other folk who call the city home. Here's a book that once again proves Cicada are willing to take some pretty neat chances with a picture book concept that feels utterly fresh and vibrant, diverse and interesting just like the people you'd find in any city. Thoroughly enjoyable, conveying a message of what displacement and homesickness feels like when you first uproot and move to a new place. We like this one a lot! TOPPSTA REVIEW: This is a heartwarming tale about fitting in and making friends, illustrated in Aart Jan Venema's distinctive, intricate style. Packed with hilarious details, Night Windows is a beautiful book that will keep children young and old entertained for hours. THE AOI: The first word that springs to mind when pouring over Aart-Jan Venema's illustrations is 'bustling'. Every scene he paints in Night Windows is alive with an atmosphere of movement and visual noise, a feeling which is encouraged by a richness of detail that will tug eyes of any age this way and that, as they constantly find new things to delight over. The story is one of a young boy feeling overwhelmed and alienated by life in a strange new city, and the hurried viewing pace that is provoked by such lively illustrations will place the reader somewhere in a gentler version of that hectic head space. Despite their undeniable busy-ness, the pages never feel over-cluttered. Every tiny narrative clue is placed carefully so we can find it, and each one adds a little extra depth to the many colourful characters we meet through the eyes of our storyteller. The drawing style is vibrant and playful, and there is an animated quality to to everything - from a bamboozled sewing machine to the knowing expressions on the faces of two marble busts that appear decidedly more at home and at ease than their human co-habitant. The child's perspective, the use of rhyme, and the spot-the-little-details narrative style would suggest that this book's message is aimed solely at younger readers. In actual fact, all of these qualities are delivered in a way that gives the book a far richer urban cultural and social texture than might first be observed. The written flow of Ziggy Hanaor's rhymes are more reminiscent of a rap lyric than a nursery story, and there are subtle nods to certain social dynamics that will only be noticed by an older audience. When one of the boy's neighbours asks if he can count all six hats in the scene, the child replies: "Seven, there's one on your head." This is an enjoyable moment that will engage children in playful counting and observation, but it also exemplifies that effortless ability found in every child: to see so plainly what adults have made themselves blind to. This neighbour revels in observing his world and its inhabitants, but he is so preoccupied with outward observation that he forgets his own equally important place in that same world, and the things he shares in common with his fellow humans. In this moment, Night Windows touches on issues of mindfulness and inclusivity - an important social theme for children and adults alike - and Venema's thriving illustrations prove a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable classroom for such a lesson.